Ahhh Spring! So many flowers, birds, warm weather… wait, is that still snow on the ground?
It may still be chilly and white outside, but there are still plenty of opportunities for joy in the early New England spring. One welcome event this March that you or a friend may observe with a big dinner and plenty of treats (besides Saint Patrick’s Day!) is Easter!
- Single Servings of Nut Butter
Candy doesn’t have to be the only favorite snack! Try adding a single squeeze pack of your favorite nut butter, like Justin’s Almond Butter packets for a healthy fiber and protein filled snack.
- Chocolate Covered Fruit
For a chocolate fix with a healthy dose of fruit, dip whole strawberries, grapes, or banana slices in melted chocolate. Microwave the chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring between spurts, until smooth (or use a double boiler). Place the chocolate covered fruit in mini muffin papers so the chocolate doesn’t smear all over the rest of the basket’s contents. To scale back on the chocolate, drizzle the melted chocolate over fruit with the tines of a fork. For an added crunch, roll the fruit in chopped nuts like almonds, walnuts, pecans, or pistachios.
- Individually-Wrapped Treats
King sized chocolate bars may be exciting, but individually wrapped stars and shapes of chocolate offer built-in portion control. Instead of buying a whole bar, pick up a bag or two of chocolate pieces from our favorite local chocolatier.
- Dark Chocolate
This time of year, drug stores and grocery stores stock their shelves with bunny- and egg- shaped treats… which are loaded with sugar, syrups, and hard-to-pronounce additives. While you don’t need to forego candy completely (that’s just cruel), you can choose a healthier chocolate bar by keeping a few things in mind. To reap the benefits of dark chocolate, choose a bar with 70 percent or more cacao. Healthy bonus points: Cacao has been shown to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk for coronary heart disease. Make sure the first ingredient on the label reads “cocoa butter” or “cocoa liquor.” When sugar is the first ingredient, it may taste sweeter, but it has far fewer health benefits. Organic chocolate bars, while generally a little pricier, are more bang for your buck. Why? They’ve got fewer ingredients (usually just cocoa, sugar, and sometimes an emulsifier, vanilla, and milk) while other bars feature artificial flavors and cocoa processed with alkali (which knocks out some of the flavanol antioxidants) .
- Peanut Butter Eggs
Name one person that doesn’t like peanut butter eggs. (Thought so.) Though store-bought eggs taste like the nectar of the Easter Gods, they’re often oversized and full of not-so-healthy ingredients. The filling, for instance, often contains more sugar than actual peanuts. Make your own PB eggs with recognizable ingredients and switch things up with almond butter for more fiber, iron, and vitamin E.
- Gold Fish (or Bunnies!)
Cheesy snacks make an Easter-appropriate basket filler when they’re shaped like bunnies! Annie’s cheddar bunnies come in a whole-wheat variety, but it doesn’t take much to make your own, too!
- Homemade Peep
Easter without peeps is like Christmas without milk and cookies, Chanukah without gelt, and St. Patty’s day without green beer. For a healthier marshmallow chick remix, ditch the corn syrup and white sugar in favor of honey. These peeps are not particularly healthy, but at least they’re free of preservatives, artificial dyes, and carnauba wax (the main ingredient in car wax).
- Graham Bunnies
Just like Gold Fish, feel free to make your own graham snacks without hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Annie’s bunny grahams are a great choice for a pre-made version, which comes in a handful of varieties (such as vanilla, chocolate, and gluten-free snickerdoodle).
Not everything has to be sweet and crunchy! After your Easter festivities, calm down with a gift of assorted teas. Republic of Tea is a great choice, as well as the pretty tea bags from Tea Forte.
- Filled Plastic Eggs
Those classic plastic Easter eggs are a genius way to pre-portion treats. Fill ‘em up with dried or dehydrated fruits or nuts, seeds, healthy trail mix, granola, or cocoa nibs. Surprise!
If you have any other tips for how you stay on track during Spring holidays, leave a comment below!
Blog post written by Trainer, Sarah Oliver
VIM is now offering nutrition services with Trainer & Nutrition Coach, Christine Galvin!
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