Easter can be one of the hardest holidays to stay healthy given the amount of sugar and hot cross buns that are intelligently marketed towards us. So here are a couple of healthier substitutes you can turn to this Easter, so you can still enjoy, but with a healthier twist so you can have a healthy Easter.
Did you know sugar is more addictive than cocaine? Research published in the Public Library of Science showed that sugar is far more addictive than its illegal more refined counterpart. Yet there doesn’t seem to be a Sugar Anonymous club just yet. Although sugar doesn’t cause breakouts and bad skin in and of itself, it does exacerbate the condition if you suffer from skin dysfunction (cur acne and breakouts).
So what are some of the ways you can cheaply, and effectively swap out the more nefarious sugar, with a few healthier treats?
I know what you’re thinking, surely raw chocolate is still chocolate therefore it’s still bad for you? Only if it has supposedly ‘healthier’ sugar substitutes like agave nectar or corn syrup. But when the only sweeteners are cacao butter and coconut oil, the raw chocolate is definitely a health giving treat.
So why is this?
The process of making raw chocolate means the ingredients are not overheated or cooked at high temperatures, this is literally what makes the ingredients raw in nature. By extracting the ingredients through lower temperatures, the health giving compounds within the ingredients stay active rather than being burned out. For example, magnesium (a stress reducing compound) is potent in cacao, but not when it is extracted at high heat. So when you’re eating raw cacao chocolate, you’re providing your body with a de-stressor, which you may need if you’re coordinating a massive family lunch around Easter.
Cacao is a phytonutrient, which means it contains a plant based nutrients that promote health giving compounds. According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, cacao has been found to stimulate improved thinking skills – a great side benefit to eating chocolate!
This is the raw chocolate my family and I eat, and because the raw chocolate is dense, you only need one small block and it feels like you’re eating a brownie!
Carob doesn’t come from the same beans as cacao but comes from small carob pods. I’m personally not a huge carob fan because it reacts directly with my skin, that’s why I stick with raw chocolate. But if you can take the carob, then definitely do it and it’s a much better alternative than the over-the-counter choccies!
Like cacao though, carob is a polyphenol (ie a phytochemical) which is a powerful compound sourced from plant based foods) that contain antioxidant properties – similar foods include tea, wine, berries, olive oils. The polyphenol has several health giving benefits, but in the main, these can protect you from free radical damage as well as protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation (which can severely disrupt your collagen and promote wrinkles and fine lines).
Out of the carob brands I have tried, I am a fan of the Carob Kitchen (Banjo Bears).
Getting that chocolate ‘hit’ doesn’t have to be just through food – you can also drink chocolate in (literally!). Here is absolutely one of my favourite recipes from the clever cookies over at Hemsley & Hemsley on their Mexican Hot Chocolate. You only need half a mug each as it’s very very rich (great for the hips, and the hip pocket too!).
- 1/2 x 400g can of coconut milk
- 2 x tablespoons cacao powder
- 1 x tablespoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 x sprinkling of cayenne pepper or chilli flakes
- 1 x sprinkling of pink himalayan sea salt
Put all ingredients in a small pot on the stove and simmer at low-medium heat for about 4 minutes, it should heat up and ready for you to drink! Like I said, it is fairly heavy so you don’t need a full mug. It will definitely fill you right up, so don’t have it before lunch or dinner, it’s a great substitute for a mid afternoon snack.
Cold cross buns
Now walking past the Baker’s Delight smelling hot cross buns, without a health-friendly option is a bit of a tease, so I decided I’d just make my own with a bit of spark. Just because you’re healthy doesn’t mean you should have to miss out!!
Healthy cold cross bun recipe:
- Handful of dates
- Handful of cashews
- Two teaspoons cacao powder
- One teaspoon coconut oil or grass fed butter
- Small dash of water
- Two sprinklings of cinnamon
- Two heaped tablespoons of chia seed
- Desiccated coconut for decoration
Blitz everything except the desiccated coconut in your nutribullet or processor for a few seconds until you get a thick paste. Scoop out the mixture (two tablespoons at a time) and start rolling the balls into ‘bun’ like shapes. Once you have 4 of your buns, sprinkle desiccated coconut in crosses along the tops.
There you have it, cold cross buns!
Raw peppermint slice
If you are really stuck, and hankering on a chocolate craving (don’t stress if you do, it’s totally normal) why not substitute the chocolate for a fabulous healthy dessert? This is absolutely one of my favourite recipes for dessert, it is so dense, flavoursome and filling it feels like you’re eating liquid gold. If you’re looking for a killer Easter dessert to bring to a family function, I definitely recommend this one, especially if you’re a mint fanatic. This recipe is from one of my favourite healthy cookbooks – the A Whole New Way to Eat from wholefoods store AboutLife – written by Vladia Cobrdova.