Spring has pretty much sprung. The days are longer and warmer and the first holiday long weekend of the new season is just around the corner. Easter is a great opportunity to bring families together after a long cold-winter and may be the first time that everyone will see each other since Christmas. It’s a special time, and I am here to help make it that little bit more special with a few helpful tips to keep your Easter as healthy as it can be. Here are my four steps to a healthier Easter dinner:
1. If you aren’t already, try offering fish option
Some people will be avoiding meat and serving fish on Easter for traditional and/or religious reasons. Even if you are not one of them, I recommend you consider serving a fish option such as salmon, trout, herring, sardines, mackerel, tuna or snapper. Canned varieties of these fish are absolutely fine as well.
Most Canadians do not consume enough vitamin D and fish are among the richest natural sources of this important nutrient. It’s been a cold, dark winter and most of us would not have had the sun exposure necessary for our bodies to create the vitamin D we need. Easter is a great time to top up on vitamin D before the great weather hits!
2. Serve vegetables, and serve them as plainly and naturally as possible
I am quite sure that there will be many rich and delectable dishes available to your guests, so why not let your vegetables get away without being drenched in oils or other sauces. I suggest using herbs and spices, rather than salt, oils and sauces to dress your veggies.
When I say serve your vegetables naturally, I mean as close as possible to their original form. Opt for baked or roasted potatoes with the skin intact, rather than mashed potatoes. I also recommend choosing baking or steaming rather than frying or boiling if you are planning to prepare common green vegetables such as broccoli.
I would also try to offer a raw vegetable option, such as a leafy green salad. Keep the dressing on the side so your guests can control the amount they consume (preferably something oil/vinegar based).
3. Provide healthy alternatives to baked goods for dessert
Easter is a time of celebration and I fully appreciate that baked goods and treats are cultural holiday staples at this time of year. I’m not asking you to forego preparing and offering these treats, only that you try to make more nutritious alternatives (such as a fruit tray) equally available to your guests. If they still want the baked goods, at least you tried!
4. Choose lamb over ham
I know that lamb and ham roasts are two popular Easter dinner choices. If you are going for a red meat this Easter, I am going to recommend you opt for lamb over ham. Ham, by definition, is a processed meat because it usually undergoes salting, smoking or curing.
Unfortunately, this processing leave ham high in sodium and other compounds that are not ideal for our health. For this reason, I recommend you opt for lamb over ham this Easter weekend.
There you have it, the four steps to ensuring you have a happy and healthy Easter dinner. I hope you will take some these points to heart as they truly will make a difference in the overall nutritional quality of the meal you provide for your family. Regardless of what you do end up serving on the day, I wish you a happy and healthy Easter holiday!
Feature Image Credit: ProFlowers
About the Author: Andy is a Toronto-based private practice dietitian and nutrition writer/blogger. He also holds a master’s degree in public health nutrition from the University of Toronto. If you are interested in learning more about Andy and his services, or you’d like to read more of this nutrition content, you can do so at AndyTheRD.com