Our lovely stateside fitness guru Christine Bullock has come up with some great alternative gifts and ideas for Easter. Let’s hope our weather is half as good as the sunny warm climate of California!
Planning and celebrating holidays is a treat all year round, but Easter always tends to stand out as a family favorite. There is something in the fresh Spring air that that brings out a lightness and brightness in everyone around. Easter is the perfect holiday to bring family and friends together for a cheerful daytime celebration. As a fitness and nutrition specialist I am always thinking about creating healthy routines – and that includes establishing fun and healthy holiday traditions. I know it can be hard to make-over long standing not-so-healthful holiday rituals (did someone say eggnog?), but Easter is the perfect holiday to start adding healthy traditions to your family’s routine.
Read on to find out some of the easy and healthy traditions that my family has grown to love. I hope you embrace a few of my favorites and feel inspired to start some healthy habits of your own!
Give Gifts that Grow
Easter is a wonderful opportunity to focus on nature and the abundance of Spring. It’s the ideal time to slow down and give thanks for the Earth’s bounty. The fruits and vegetables that we eat every day really do give us life by providing us with the nutrients that we need to survive and flourish every day. It is incredible and it is simple, but it’s true. These plant foods take time and care to produce. My favorite gifts to give at Easter are plants.
Rather than bringing a bouquet of flowers as a hostess gift, bring a small plant. It smells lovely, it lasts forever and it can produce endless bouquets for years to come. I also love to gift small strawberry plants to the kiddies. The strawberries that they grow will be organic and extra delicious, and the process of planting, watering and waiting is a purely educational experience. Fresh fruits and veggies make gorgeous centrepieces as well. If you are hosting the holiday try decorating with bowls of seasonal citrus fruit. These beauties will serve double duty as decorations today and smoothie ingredients tomorrow!
Build Bountiful Baskets
The Easter basket is an essential element of most families holiday ritual. Children usually come to anticipate and expect a bountiful Easter basket with the same excitement that they reserve for Christmas stocking and birthday presents. Routinely gifting kids an Easter basket filled with playful goodies rather than one filled with processed treats really trains them to anticipate and appreciate the right things.
I like to create easter baskets filled with colorful gifts like a pair of patterned flip-flops and a plush new beach towel. Toys are great additions too because they get kids moving and playing together – Easter is all about bonding with family and friends after all. Sidewalk chalk is perfect here because it comes in pretty seasonal colours and provides hours of entertainment. Be creative. You can add jump ropes, nerf balls, pool toys — whatever suits your children’s age and interests. If your kids love craft projects, then colouring books and paper airplane kits are the way to go.
Don’t be scared to leave sweet treats out of your baskets all together – remember you are establishing the tradition and if they don’t have it, I assure you they won’t miss it. But, if you do want to add some edible goodies, go for it, just be mindful about each addition. Choose quality over quantity. That might mean adding one beautiful, decadent organic chocolate bunny or a single gourmet cupcake in a favourite flavour. These special items will get kids far more excited than a basket full of candy and will teach them to look at food, even sweets, in an appropriate way.
Serve a Seasonal Spread
I am a serious advocate for seasonal cooking and eating. When you choose locally grown, in-season produce you are getting the tastiest, least expensive and most nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables available. Plus, you don’t have to speculate as to whether or not your produce has been waxed or irradiated for preservation and transportation! Cooking with the seasons is fun and it is a great way to create an inspired Easter menu.
Offer up a backyard barbecue themed Easter spread this year – it is simple and inviting. Make easy appetizers. A big fruit bowl and beautiful veggie platter should take center stage here. Everyone loves dips with their veggies, so serve something delicious and nourishing. I like to play around with dip recipes throughout the year so that I really have some stars to bring to parties and serve at my own get-togethers. This year I am making the vegan pumpkin hummus from my Evolution20 program. If you want to serve chips and dip, homemade salsa and guacamole are always fresh fan favourites.
The main course is the primary reason why I love a barbecue theme – the single serving mains allow me to feed my carnivores, vegetarians and vegans full and tasty meals. I cook up grass-fed beef burgers, salmon patties and quinoa burgers. All amazing options. Buns are available, but entirely optional because I set out an inviting toppings platter compete with large leaves of crunchy lettuce, wedges of avocado and slices of local tomatoes.
With the side dishes I stick to my barbeque theme and offer a few different salads. It’s nice to set out a traditional green salad. I keep this one super simple by sticking to Bibb lettuce, radishes, some thin red onions and a nice mustard vinaigrette. But I also offer a few surprise salads – possibly a cucumber and mint salad, a crunchy broccoli and almond slaw, or even a bowl of roasted veggies dressed up and disguised as a salad.
Of course there must be dessert! At my house, guests never fail to show up with platters of cookies and decadent cakes, so as the hostess I like to provide a nice clean dessert option. I’ll be serving a pretty platter of chocolate dipped fruits! These are healthy, decadent and the perfect end to a daytime barbecue meal.
Happy hosting and a happy, healthy Easter to you and yours.