Healthy Easter Treats

Growing up I remember Easter with chocolate bunnies, malted eggs, jellybeans and a variety of other marshmallow and chocolate treats. This was all on top of the traditional Easter Egg. Below I have listed some healthy alternative Easter treats.

Healthy Marshmallow Recipe (or Homemade Peeps)

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These fluffy honey-sweetened homemade marshmallows will deliver all the flavor but none of the health-compromising refined sugar. Plus, these can be made in a coconut or chocolate version (see below) based on the recipes plans or preferences. This simple recipe will make you wonder why you ever bought marshmallows at the store. But remember, sugar that comes from whole foods like honey or fruit is still sugar, so remember to eat these as a treat, not a regular snack.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. grass-fed gelatin (or agar agar for a vegan option)
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

1. Lightly grease a loaf pan. Then cover with parchment paper (with enough to hang over the sides of the pan one way), then grease the parchment paper.
2. Put ¼ cup of water in a medium bowl (or in the bowl of a mixer with attached whisk) , and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Set aside to soften.
3. In a small pot, place the honey, salt, and the other ¼ cup of water. Heat on medium heat. Using a candy thermometer, bring the mixture to 240 degrees. (You can also test it by dribbling a little of the liquid into a bowl of ice cold water. It should be in the candy stage of forming little soft balls when cooled in the water and taken out. It takes about 7-8 minutes to reach this temperature. ). Remove from the heat immediately when reaching temp.
4. Using a hand mixer on low, very carefully mix in the hot syrup into the gelatin mixture by pouring the hot syrup in a drizzle down the side of the bowl. Once it’s all combined, add the vanilla and increase speed to high. Beat for 12- 15 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and fluffy (it will look like marshmallow fluff). *Scrap into the prepared pan and leave, uncovered, for 4-12 hours to dry. Cut into squares, serve as is or for an extra treat cut with bunny cookie cutter to create little bunny ‘peeps’.

*If making Peeps you will want to divide the mixture into parts (as many as you need) an add food coloring to make the various color peeps before leaving to let dry. Then proceed to cutting with cookie cutter. You will need to coat the cutter lightly with cooking oil to keep marshmallow from sticking.

Homemade Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs

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Total Time: 10m
Yield: 6-9 eggs

Ingredients

Filling

  • 1/4 cup peanut butter OR allergy-friendly alternative at room temperature (homemade recipe here)
  • dash salt
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 more tbsp of the sugar

Coating

  • 3/4 cup (3.6 ounces) sugar free chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Mix the first three ingredients together in a bowl into crumbly dough. Also, I put the dough into a plastic bag to shape into a ball with less mess.) Add the extra 2 tbsp. sugar if it’s too gooey, and add a little more pb if it’s too dry. (Different brands of peanut butter will yield different results.) Taste the dough and add a little more salt if desired. Form dough into egg shaped ovals** (like Reeces eggs). Freeze the dough for an hour or until firm.
  2. Meanwhile, melting the chocolate chips and coconut oil for 30 seconds in the microwave. Stir until smooth.
  3. Next dip frozen peanut butter eggs into melted chocolate. Set on tray with wax paper and refrigerate until chocolate is set.

**Note Alternatively, you can use candy egg molds. Instead of shaping peanut butter pour mixture into egg molds and freeze for about 1 hour. Remove from mold Next melt chocolate chips and coconut oil and then dip peanut better eggs. Set on wax paper and refrigerate until set.

Filled Plastic Eggs

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Growing up our family always had the traditional Easter Egg Hunt. What made it an extra special treat was my mom used to hide a few plastic eggs filled with special treats. She would put a variety of Easter surprises in them. You can fill ‘em up with dried fruits or peeled snacks and/or nuts or even little toys!

Healthy Easter Egg Popsicle

Saw this on a Pinterest post and thought it’s the perfect Easter morning brekkie!

The ‘healthy’ snacks that are secretly making us fat and what to eat instead…

It’s common to reach out for a small to stave mid-morning hunger pangs but your snacking choices may be doing you more than good.

Items we consider healthy such as cereal bars, bran-flakes and low fat biscuits, are full of sugar which, while they may provide a temporary energy boost, will end up making you crash.

When preparing snacks, choose low-energy releasing foods and avoid sipping on smoothies or fruit juices.

When preparing snacks, choose low-energy releasing foods,  rather than items which are full of saturated fat and sugar  

When preparing snacks, choose low-energy releasing foods,  rather than items which are full of saturated fat and sugar.

It might be tricky to resist mince pies but hold off for the big day itselfA handful of dried fruit will hit the sweet spot while getting one of your five a day.

It might be tricky to resist mince pies (left) but hold off for the big day itself. Instead try a handful of dried fruit (left) to hit the sweet spot, while getting one of your five a day.

Nutritionist Dr. Sarah Schenker told FEMAIL: ‘So many people are misled by snacks which we’re told are healthy, in reality, people need to be thinking about the nutritional content and how that can help you maintain your energy levels.

‘Snacking still has negative connotations that need to be overcome – which I fully support. Introducing convenient and nutritious foods can overcome the stigma of snacking and help us to become more active and healthier.’

Here she shares ten snacking swaps you can make to ensure you are consuming all the right foods.

SWAP: Low-fat biscuits

FOR: Oatcakes with hummus

Oatcakes have much lower sugar content than many low-fat biscuits on the market and are a great source of fibre. Top this with hummus for a fix of essential vitamins and minerals.

SWAP: Mince pies

FOR: Dried fruit

This time of year can be tricky to resist, however if you’re holding off for the big day itself, then try a handful of dried fruit to hit the sweet spot, while getting one of your five a day.

SWAP: Cereal bars

FOR: Peanut butter on wholemeal toast

Cereal bars are often packed with hidden sugars which can undermine any nutritional value. Peanut butter is a natural source of protein and helps maintain energy levels, perfect if you have a big day ahead.

Cereal bars are often packed with hidden sugars which can undermine any nutritional valuePeanut butter is a natural source of protein and helps maintain energy levels

Cereal bars (left) are often packed with hidden sugars whilst peanut butter (right)  is a natural source of protein and helps maintain energy levels

There is nothing wrong with snacking but make sure you choose foods which are light and healthy  

There is nothing wrong with snacking but make sure you choose foods which are light and healthy

SWAP: Lighter crisps

FOR: Vegetable sticks and avocado dip

Light crisps are often high in salt, as an alternative, swap for vegetables sticks and an avocado dip. Avocados are high in antioxidants and provide you with good, monounsaturated fats that can help keep hair and skin healthy.

SWAP: Processed fruit bars

FOR: Mixed raisins and nuts

Whole fruit has a much higher water content contributing to hydration, helping to prevent dehydration that can be a root cause of the afternoon slump.

SWAP: Smoothies

FOR: A glass of milk

A glass of milk provides essential calcium and minerals and is comparably much better for you than a smoothie, which contains large amounts of sugar.

Light crisps are often high in saltVegetable sticks and avocado dip

Light crisps (left) are often high in salt so swap for vegetables sticks and an avocado dip (right)

SWAP Fruit Juice

FOR Coconut water

There has been some debate as to whether fruit juice should continue to count towards your 5-a-day as the process of juicing releases the sugars, having similar impact to added sugars, particularly on teeth. Coconut water has less sugar than most fruit juices and could be a better choice for adults and kids looking for a beverage that is less sweet. It also provides electrolytes that can help you rehydrate more effectively.

SWAP Strawberry ice cream

FOR Greek yoghurt with frozen berries

Strawberry ice cream is loaded with sugar and light on any actual fruit. You can get the same effect by swirling frozen berries through protein and calcium packed Greek yoghurt with a fraction of the sugar content.

SWAP Bacon on toast or a bacon butter

FOR Poached eggs on toast or a fried egg sandwich

Although both eggs and bacon provide protein, that’s where the nutritional similarities stop. Bacon is high in salt and there is concern over the effect that the preservatives contained can have on the gut. Eggs on the other hand are rich in many essential vitamins and minerals needed for good health.

SWAP: Bran flakes

FOR: Porridge

Although they contain fiber, bran flakes are still relatively high in sugar, which means they have a higher GI, releasing their energy more quickly. Porridge will give you a slow release of energy to ensure you start your day right.

How to make the perfect fried egg to go with your sandwich

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/embed/video/1232313.html

Bacon is high in salt and there is concern over the effect that the preservatives contained can have on the gutEggs are rich in many essential vitamins and minerals needed for good health

Bacon (left) is high in salt and there is concern over the effect that the preservatives contained can have on the gut. Eggs (right) on the other hand are rich in many essential vitamins and minerals needed for good health

The tips are part of Sun-Pat’s Spread the Energy study, which revealed that 24 per cent of teenagers felt they lack the energy needed to take part in after-school activities.

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It Was Hard To Snack Healthy Until I Learned These 22 Delicious Metabolism-Boosting Ideas

 

Snacking can be a huge downfall of a healthy lifestyle. Thankfully, you don’t have to go hungry between meals. Here are some great ways to keep your metabolism boosted with delicious and healthful choices. Some of these ideas are absolutely to die for and yet healthy as can be! Who knew snacking could be so yummy AND good for you?

1. Baked Zucchini Chips
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These chips are far from your average potato chips, and much healthier

2. Butternut Squash Chips
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Simple, Healthy, and Delicious. These chips are also super easy to prepare.

3. Banana, Chocolate, and Almond Butter Bites
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You can substitute peanut butter to make these if almonds aren’t your thing.

4. Granola, Peanut Butter, and Apple Sandwiches
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Sweet, Crispy, and Delicious

5. Spicy Sriracha Popcorn
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just add a little Sriracha sauce to some butter and drizzle over freshly popped popcorn

6. Vietnamese Spring Rolls
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Just wrap frsh shrimp, veggies, mint, and herbs in rice paper for an amazing snack.

7. Dried Apple Chips
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You can even make these chips in the microwave!

8.Avocado Toast with a Sunny-Side up Egg
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Instead of butter, spread avocado on a piece of toast and add an egg.

9. Avocados and Hard-Boiled Eggs
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Simply chop up an avocado and a couple of hard boiled eggs for a quick pick-me-up

10. Cauliflower Crust Mini Pizzas
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All the flavor of a pizza, with very few of the carbs.

11. Baked Carrot Chips
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Brush carrot slices with olive oil, and just pop them in the over at 375 for 10 minutes.

12. Cheerios and Peanut Butter Bars
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You can substitute other cereals for this recipe, but they are all delicious.

13. Ants on a Log
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Classic snack idea, with a few new twists.

14. Greek Yogurt Ranch Veggie Dip
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This dip is packed with protein.

15. Yogurt-Covered Fruit Bites
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Just coat your favorite fruit with yogurt, freeze, and enjoy

16. Cottage Cheese Guacamole
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Adding cottage cheese to your guacamole is a unique way to boost your protein your diet.

17. Healthy trail mix
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Why buy pre-made trail mix why you mix up your own.

18. Peanut Butter Honey Yogurt Dip
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Sweet, tangy, and super healthy.

19. Cucumbers Stuffed with Herb Cream Cheese and Cherry Tomatoes
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Simple but incredibly delicious.

20. Quick Pico de Gallo
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A great dip to accompany almost any meal, and makes a great snack.

21. Prosciutto and Fresh Mozzarella on Garlic Toast Crackers
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A fancy, healthy snack to impress your guests.

22. Mediterranean Cucumber Roll-Ups
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With feta, hummus, and peppers, these roll-ups are healthy and delicious

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5 Mistakes That Are Made When Going Gluten-Free – What You Should Know

Whether it’s due to celiac disease, autoimmune disease, or simply a desire to eat better, more and more people are adopting a gluten-free diet. This can have a huge impact on your overall health, but only if you do it right.

If you haven’t removed 100% of the gluten in your diet, you won’t realize the full benefits and, especially in the case of autoimmune disease, you may continue to experience symptoms from very trace amounts of gluten.

Here are five of the biggest mistakes people make when going gluten free and how to avoid them:

1. Not learning which foods besides wheat contain gluten.

This is a really critical first step to going gluten free. You probably know that gluten is a protein in wheat, but it is also found in rye and barley, and oats can contain gluten because they are harvested on the same equipment as gluten grains. Remember the acronym “BROW” when reading labels; it stands for barley, rye, oats and wheat.

When you first decide to go gluten free, you’ll probably immediately realize that you need to eliminate wheat based foods like bread and pasta, but did you know that gluten is also found in soy sauce, licorice and artificial crab? Learn the common and not-so-common sources of gluten and read labels carefully.

2. Filling up on gluten-free processed foods.

Gluten free food products are everywhere these days, which certainly makes transitioning to a gluten-free diet more attainable for some people. However, these products are generally even less nutritious than their gluten containing counterparts. Breads, crackers, cookies and other processed foods contain high levels of starch and sugar that wreak havoc with your blood sugar and promote inflammation, and provide little in terms of nutritional value.

Also, these foods are not necessarily one hundred percent gluten-free; they can contain up to 20 ppm (parts per million) of gluten. This tiny amount is not enough to trigger a reaction from a single serving, but if you are eating large amounts of “gluten-free foods” like cereal, bread and pasta for every meal, you could be ingesting enough gluten to impair the progress of your gluten-free diet.

3. Not focusing on high quality gluten-free foods.

Many people come to a gluten-free diet because of a particular health issue. Instead of simply replacing gluten containing processed foods with gluten-free processed foods, put the emphasis on whole foods that are naturally gluten-free like meat, eggs, fish, vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds.

These foods help reduce inflammation (unlike high starch gluten-free foods which promote inflammation) and in conjunction with the elimination of gluten can have a huge impact on how you feel overall. If you have been unwell for a some time, your body may be deficient in micronutrients, so load up on healthy, naturally gluten-free foods to help replenish your stores.

4. Forgetting about personal care products, cosmetics, vitamins, supplements.

This might not seem as obvious to people who aren’t used to dealing with food restrictions, but it’s a common source of accidental gluten. Even though you aren’t eating them, personal care products and cosmetics can still enter the body. Be particularly careful with eye and lip products, as they sometimes contain vitamin E that is derived from wheat germ.

Check the labels on your vitamins, supplements and check with your pharmacist for ingredients of any prescription medication you take. Gluten is found in everything from iron supplements to headache medication, and it’s important to read the labels each and every time.

5. Not learning about cross contamination.

Before you first go gluten-free, it’s hard to imagine how little gluten it actually takes to trigger a reaction. Gluten-free foods made on shared production lines or prepared in the same kitchen as gluten containing foods run the risk of being cross contaminated with gluten. It takes as little as 50 ppm of gluten — about the size of 1/100 of a piece of bread — to trigger a reaction in people with celiac disease. To be truly gluten-free, food needs to be stored and prepared separately.

When first going gluten free, you’re going to need fresh condiments that are free of crumbs, a new toaster (if eating bread), new cutting boards and super clean cooking surfaces. Do not share food prep surfaces, cooking surfaces or utensils with gluten containing foods. When eating in restaurants, be sure to ask about their allergy protocol and don’t be shy about asking about ingredients in seasonings and dressings.

Now that you know the top five mistakes people make when going gluten-free, congratulations on your decision and good luck! You’re going to love the way you feel.

Want to try some Gluten Free Recipes? 15 easy & amazing here.

Health Benefits of Cherries

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Tart cherries are loaded with important nutrients. You would have to eat an entire sack of them to obtain all of the nutrition you can get by sipping the juice. Many antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents are in tart cherries. Tart cherry juice contains just 137 calories per 1-cup serving, and it is beneficial for cancer prevention, heart health, as an anti-inflammatory agent and offers protection against a host of other conditions.
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Cherries help ease arthritis pain

shoulder-arthritis

For those who suffer from arthritis and gout, you will be relieved to find out that adding cherries to your diet can greatly decrease the intense pain associated with those ailments. Excess uric acid in the blood is the culprit behind the excruciating pain that causes swelling, tenderness and inflammation.  A study done by the USDA found that uric acid can be reduced by as much as 15 percent by eating 2 cups of Bing cherries. Cherries can also help reduce painful inflammation by decreasing the amount of C-reactive protein produced. So add a little zing to your diet by choosing Bing (cherries).

Cherries help fight cancer

purple-cherries

The distinctive deep red pigment cherries are known for comes from flavonoids; powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body. Cyanidin is a flavonoid from the anthocyanin group found in cherries that helps keep cancerous cells from growing out of control. And, for cherries with the most anthocyanins go for sweet cherries with the deepest pigment; crimson-purple rather than bright red.

Cherries help you sleep

cherry-sleep

If sipping a cup of chamomile isn’t enough to induce restful sleep try having tart cherry juice before bed. Tart cherries contain melatonin, a hormone that helps make you feel sleepy. Two tablespoons of tart cherry juice has been shown in studies to be just as effective as a melatonin supplement. So, pour yourself a little cherry juice nightcap for a tasty bedtime sleep aid.

Cherries and blood pressure

blood-pressure

Cherries are an excellent source of potassium, which helps to lower blood pressure by getting rid of the excess sodium in our body. Eating cherries helps keep potassium and sodium in balance, and can prevent hypertension from occurring. One cup of cherries has the same amount of potassium as a banana making it a great substitute when you are not in the mood for banana.

Cherries help keep you trim

keeping-trim

Eating cherries can help you lose weight and stay trim.  A cup of cherries is less than 100 calories and packs in 3 grams of fiber, which will keep you feeling full longer. Also, these little beauties contain many B-vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin and vitamin B6; these vitamins are crucial for metabolism and convert nutrients into energy. What could be better than eating cherries to help you stay fit & lean?

Here are some great recipes using cherries!

 

10 Surprising Foods You Can Freeze

You already know that the freezer is a good place to stow steak and chicken. But it works equally well for some far less obvious items.

Try freezing the following (you’ll find more detailed instructions by clicking on each item). You’ll save money, waste less — and make cooking a lot more convenient.

• OPENED WINE: 6 months

Wine-testing

Can’t finish the whole bottle? Freeze leftover wine in ice cube trays and transfer to freezer bags. Great for cooking, in sauces, stews and the like.

• EGGS: 1 year

eggs

Crack open and mix in a touch of salt (if using for savory dishes) or sugar (for baking or deserts); place in freezer bags or airtight containers.

• BROWN RICE (UNCOOKED): 1 year

brownrice3

Brown rice has a higher oil content than white rice, so its shelf life isn’t nearly as long. But it’ll keep for several months longer if you freeze it.

• BUTTER: 6 months

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Butter freezes well, so stash a stick or two in the freezer (leave in the original wrapping and place in a freezer bag) and you’ll always have some on hand when you need it.

• MILK: 3 months

BrooklynMilk_Preview_960

If you’re constantly running out, freeze a backup supply in an airtight container. Thaw in the fridge and stir well before using — the texture may be a little grainy, but it’s fine for cooking and usually okay for drinking.

• NUTS – INCLUDING PECANS, ALMONDS, WALNUTS: 1 -2 years (depending on the type)

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Thanks to their high oil content, nuts are especially prone to going rancid. Freeze them and they’ll stay fresher longer.

• FRESH HERBS – INCLUDING BASIL, CILANTRO, PARSLEY: 6 months

herbs

Most recipes call for only a sprig of herbs, but you have to buy the whole bunch. Freeze what you don’t use in ice cube trays, covered with a bit of water, and then transfer to freezer bags.

• TOMATO PASTE: 3 months

tomato

Rarely do you need to use the whole can at once. Freeze dollops of leftover tomato paste on a cookie sheet or in ice cube trays and transfer to freezer bags for use in future recipes.

• BREAD: 3 months

Bread

If you can never seem to finish a whole loaf before it gets rock-hard or moldy, freeze it. Bread toasts just fine, straight out of the freezer.

• MAPLE SYRUP (100% PURE): keeps indefinitely

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Sure, it’s more expensive than the imitation stuff. But pure maple syrup keeps forever in the freezer — so you’ll never have to waste a delicious drop.

Source: Still Tasty