What To Eat NOW: Easter Recipes

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What To Eat NOW: Easter Recipes

Let’s look at a typical Easter menu and talk about why it’s problematic.  I’ve got some easy recipes that are lighter and healthier!

Everyone loves a great holiday meal, but how you feel afterward often isn’t worth the momentary satisfaction.  For me it’s not just about the possible weight gain.  After all, I can work just about anything off.

It’s more about the fact that it takes my digestive system a while to get back to normal after a meal like that.  Heavy, greasy food causes problems from top to bottom, if you know what I mean.

We all know how much more likely we are to give in to temptation after we’ve done it once.  I’ve been known to go on a week-long binge, gain three pounds, and have to go on a two-week sugar fast AGAIN to remedy the damage.

I’ve got some ideas to change problem foods into healthy choices.  Don’t you feel empowered already?

Green Salad

The General loves Caesar salad.  Loves it.  However, since your typical restaurant Caesar has more calories than a 10-oz sirloin and a loaded baked potato, you can see why it’s not the best idea.

I let it slide because hubby dearest is slim and is also a great  intuitive eater, but a food-loving mesomorph like me can’t get away with that sort of thing.

Instead, I prefer a walnut-feta spinach salad with a quick homemade raspberry vinaigrette.  Simple, delicious, and won’t break the calorie bank.

Spinach Walnut Feta Salad
Modified from a Taste of Home Recipe
Serves 8

*   2 cups fresh raspberries
* 1/4 cup agave nectar or mild honey (preferably sage or tupelo)
* 1/3 cup olive oil (I like ¼ c. olive oil with 1 T. flax seed oil, too)
* 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar or cider vinegar
* 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (or soy sauce)
* 1 (6 ounce) package fresh baby spinach
* 1 small red onion, thinly sliced, pulled into rings
* 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
* 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring raspberries and agave/honey to a boil. Cook for 1 minute. Strain and discard pulp. In a blender, combine the raspberry juice, oil, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce if desired; covered and process until smooth.
2. In a salad bowl, combine the spinach, onion, cheese and walnuts. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing; toss to coat. Refrigerate any remaining dressing.

Protein

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t eat pork at all.   There are lots of reasons to avoid it, like trichinosis and parasites, and that’s good enough for me.  However, I think the nutrition facts speak for themselves.

Honey Baked Ham brand’s ham contains 209 calories and 19 grams of protein per 3 oz serving.  Compare this to leg of lamb, which contains 162 calories and 24 grams of protein.  Why the disparity?

Fat of course.  The ham has 13 grams of fat per serving, where the lamb only contains 6.6.   That’s because lamb isn’t marbled like most meats.  Its fat is mostly on the outside, which is easily carved away.  Naturally, this leads to leaner cuts being available.

There are a couple of cuts to avoid if you’re watching your fat intake.  Blade and roast, for example, are high in both fat and calories.

My favorite preparation of lamb is roasted leg.  I prefer bone-in, as it is more moist, but it’s a bit more labor intensive in the end.

Rosemary Leg of Lamb
Modified from Allrecipes.com
Served 8-10

*  3cloves garlic, sliced
* 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
* salt to taste
* ground black pepper to taste
* 4 pound leg of lamb
* Olive oil for rubbing, if desired

1.   Cut slits in the top of the leg of lamb every 3-4 inches, deep enough to push slices of garlic down into the meat. If using olive oil, massage it in now.  Salt and pepper generously all over the top of lamb, place several sprigs of fresh rosemary under and on top of the lamb.
2. Roast at 325-350 degrees F (165-175 degrees C) until the lamb is cooked to medium well . Do not overcook the lamb, the flavor is best if meat is still slightly pink.

Green Vegetable

You all know how much I love asparagus.  It’s green, it’s springy, it’s delicious.  Pan frying, however, is not.  The only oils I advocate cooking with are olive oil and coconut oil.  Because you have to cook at high temperatures to pan fry, you risk burnt oil (never tasty).

More than that, the properties of even healthy oil changes at smoke point.  Your formerly heart-healthy oil is now just as bad as refined vegetable (read: soy and corn) or canola oil.

Instead, let’s try green beans with lemon and hazelnuts.  Lemon is alkalizing to the body, and just downright tasty.

Hazelnuts provide the fats that you need to assimilate fat-soluble vitamins and a nice crunch.  They are also
the lowest nut in saturated fat.  What’s not to love?

Green Beans with Lemon and Hazelnuts

Modified from Allrecipes.com

Serves 8

*   1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
* 1/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
* salt and pepper to taste

1.   In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook beans 3 to 8 minutes or until tender. Drain and place in a large bowl.
2. Add olive oil, lemon zest, hazelnuts, salt and pepper.

Potato

I know, I know, it feels like love.  That bubbly, cheesy potato pan, with the crusty top and plume of aromatic steam.   Heaven’s name?  Potatoes au gratin.

However, when you picture the crusty sides being stuck in your arteries, it’s not quite so appetizing, is it?

I am not the world’s biggest fan of potatoes.  What can I say, I prefer sweet to savory.  However, I wouldn’t’ tell anyone they couldn’t have their Easter fix.  Instead, let’s look at a healthier, less heart-attack inducing way to eat them.

If I have to eat potatoes, I prefer them roasted.  Actually, besides raw, I prefer just about all starchy veggies roasted.  Because roasting draws out the natural sweetness of the vegetables, they don’t need much adornment.

How does that benefit you?  Ease, of course.  When you taste a food’s natural properties, you have less work to do.

The smaller size of fingerling potatoes means that they only cook for about 20 minutes.  Goodbye, 60-minute casserole!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Recipe from Foodnetwork.com
Serves 8

*  4 pounds small fingerling potatoes
* 12 cloves garlic, crushed
* Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling, 2 to 3 tablespoons
* Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 500 degrees F.
Spread potatoes out on a cookie sheet. Scatter garlic over potatoes. Coat lightly with extra-virgin olive oil and season potatoes with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.

Dessert

Finally we come to dessert.  Carrot cake is my favorite food.  Well, to be more precise, CAKE is my favorite food, and carrot one of my most-cherished varieties of cake.

That said, carrot cake is super high in fat, and any attempts at healthifying it, besides replacing half the oil with applesauce, are downright disastrous.

The cream cheese and powdered sugar frosting?  Blood sugar crash waiting to happen.

How about we go with something altogether different?  Personally, I’d love to see a lighter ending to the meal (but still cake, of course).

I love this strawberry rhubarb angel food cake from eatbetteramerica.com.  As I choose to eat whole foods, you’ll never find me slathering mine in hydrogenated oil (read: Cool Whip).  Instead, a well-placed dollop of real whipped cream sweetened with honey or agave hits the spot.

I make my own angel food cake from scratch because, well, it tastes better.  Those drops of almond extract I add seem to take the cake from Styrofoam-plain to heavenly ambrosia.  Do what you have the time and budget for!

Strawberry-Rhubarb Angel Food Cake
Recipe modified from EatBetterAmerica.com

Cake
1    box white angel food cake mix (if using store bought, omit water and orange peel)
1 1/4    cups cold water
2    teaspoons grated orange peel
Filling
2    cups sliced rhubarb (can use frozen)
1/2    cup sucanat
2    tablespoons orange juice
1 1/2    cups sliced strawberries

Frosting and Garnish
1    cup heavy cream, whipped (can add 1 T. honey or agave while whipping)
1/2    cup sliced strawberries
1.    Move oven rack to lowest position (remove other racks). Heat oven to 350°F. In extra-large glass or metal bowl, beat cake mix, water and orange peel with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds; beat on medium speed 1 minute. Pour into ungreased 10-inch angel food (tube) cake pan. (Do not use fluted tube cake pan or 9-inch angel food pan or batter will overflow.)  Skip if using store bought.
2.    Bake 37 to 47 minutes or until top is dark golden brown and cracks feel very dry and not sticky. Do not underbake. Immediately turn pan upside down onto glass bottle until cake is completely cool, about 2 hours.
3.    Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, mix rhubarb, 1/2 cup sucanat and the orange juice. Cook over medium heat 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool 15 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups strawberries.  Refrigerate about 1 hour.
4.    Run knife around edges of cake; remove from pan. Cut cake horizontally to make 3 layers. Fill layers with filling. Serve with whipped topping and fresh sliced berries, if desired.

High Altitude (3500-6500 ft): Follow High Altitude cake mix directions for angel food pan, adding orange peel to batter.

We saved time, we saved our hearts, and we don’t need a 2-hour nap after Easter dinner.  Isn’t that a refreshing change?  I hope you love your Easter menu!

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