Easter is a time of the year most of us will be tempted to over indulge, but before you tuck into your crème eggs or chocolate bunnies consider our top tips for a diverse and well-balanced food intake.
Just because you are looking to stay healthy over the Easter period doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the delicious foods that are associated with this time of year. Here at Champneys HQ we’ve gathered together some healthy alternative recipes, expert ways you can stay active and little tips to help you manage your chocolate consumption whilst still enjoying the perks of the Easter holidays.
Nicky Corbishley, who describes herself as a recipe creator and chocolate devourer, runs the Kitchen Sanctuary food blog and she recommends stretching the legs and going out on long walks.
“Get out with the family during the Easter holidays. We love going for long walks and trips to the park. Get on the monkey bars and the see-saw with the kids, it’s a lot of fun and the kids love it when the grown-ups join in!”
Lucy Jones, an award-winning dietitian who runs her own site, also believes walking is a great way to stay active this Easter.
“Lighter mornings and evenings mean that a nice walk in the park or woods becomes a real option again post winter. Make this fun by planning an Easter egg hunt and doing the hiding of the eggs beforehand on a set route.”
You can take a look at the best walks around Champneys resorts in our best autumn walks guide.
Here at Champneys, our health management services can help you on the road to reducing your chocolate intake or improving your diet. Our boot camps are also popular during the Easter period as you can achieve your fitness goals through a collection of fun indoor and outdoor activities.
If you are instead just looking to relax, then you should choose a massage, which ranges from a lava shell relax massage to an aromatherapy back massage.
Eb Gargano, who runs the Easy Peasy Foodie blog, believes Easter is a great time to get active and says you can combine socialising with exercise.
“For many of us, it is also the school holidays, which is another great opportunity to get active. I try to get lots of exercise in by being active with my kids – taking them swimming or chasing after them at the park! Much better for them (and me!) than staring at a computer screen for hours on end.
“I am also a big fan of running to keep active…and with the weather getting better and the evenings becoming lighter, this time of year is a great time to start or get back into running. My local club is starting a beginner’s running course, and I am sure many other clubs are too!”
Another idea is to set-up a healthy Easter egg hunt for your family and friends.
Jenny Paulin, who runs the Mummy Mishaps blog, adds, “Well an Easter egg hunt could be made bigger and better by finding some park or woodland nearby and hiding non chocolate eggs (e.g. plastic ones or card ones) and then going out to find them all.
“Make it last an hour and lots of exercise and fun is had by all. Plus just one egg could be handed out as a prize at the end.”
While there are lots of resources out there that will tell you to completely avoid chocolate over the Easter period it is something that Kirsty from The British Dietetic Association disagrees with.
“We know the more you deprive yourself of things, the more you tend to crave them. Have some of what you fancy but try to eat it mindfully when you do, try not to eat it when you’re absolutely starving and sit down and take time to enjoy it. Taking note of your hunger cues can be useful to help with controlling cravings, waiting until you’re hungry enough to feel the benefits of eating something, but not until you’re so hungry you find you’re eating hard to control.”
Priya, an award winning, experienced registered dietitian and nutrition professional who runs the Dietitian UK site, also feels it is important to still enjoy some chocolate over Easter.
“Allow yourself to really enjoy your chocolate. Make a choice about which chocolate you like best, then savour it and enjoy every mouthful. Tune into the smell, sight and taste of it. Chocolate is of course a high fat, high sugar food but it is also a food that is delicious and brings pleasure. Restricting yourself or not allowing yourself any chocolate can be detrimental and just lead to you eating more of it at a later stage. I’m a huge believer in letting yourself have a little of what you really love and staying away from diets. Normal balanced eating means you can have any food, and it is all about listening to your body and regulating your intake according to your hunger and fullness signals.”
Eating chocolate as a treat after dinner rather than a snack is something Eb Gargano recommends.
“After a meal you are more full, so you can generally only manage a little bit of chocolate, whereas if you have it for a snack in between meals, you are more hungry, so more inclined to wolf down large quantities of chocolate! If I get hungry between meals, I make sure I have a small healthy snack rather than chocolate!”
Although milk chocolate tastes great, it's not nearly as good for you as dark chocolate is. Milk chocolate contains less of the original cocoa bean than dark chocolate does and it can often be diluted with milk solids, sugar, and cream.
Jo Travers, Registered Dietitian and the author of The Low-Fad Diet, says, “Chocolate is undoubtedly one of life’s pleasures and no-one should have to skip it altogether, but there are good ways to consume it. Dark chocolate is higher in healthy compounds called polyphenols and flavonoids, and lower in sugar so I’d always choose dark where possible. It also gives a great chocolate hit so you may need less of it to be satisfied. If you are eating the higher-sugar varieties, eat them with a meal as the food in your digestive system will slow down the release of the sugar into the blood stream, reducing the likelihood of blood-sugar spikes.”
Lucy Jones, adds, “Stick to dark instead of milk or white. The richness of the chocolate hits the spot earlier making it easier to stick to sensible volumes. There are also health benefits to moderate consumption so a win win. Go for options in individual wrappers to help with portion control and have miniature eggs rather than breaking into larger ones.”
Now there are lots of exercise classes available to you and Twist Studios, who offer personal training in South East London, recommend trying these out.
“Easter can be a busy period for many of us either travelling or just spending time with family and friends. This can lead to your usual gym regime being neglected. Both HIIT (Examples include: 30secs exercise / 30secs rest, or 1min exercise / 30secs rest) and TABATA (8 x 20secs exercise / 10secs rest = 4mins total per exercise) workouts are great, especially if time is of the essence.
“These can be done with limited space and little or no equipment burning a lot of calories in a very short time. In order to burn the most calories you'll get the most out of explosive, full body movements and those activating the bigger muscle groups (legs).”
Here is an example of a 20 minute workout based on a TABATA format from Twist Studios:
- Mountain Climbers
- High Knees running
- Tuck Jump Push Ups
Twist Studios, adds, “I would suggest completing these exercises first thing in the morning and eating within 20mins. This will then give you the rest of the day to spend with family and friends.”
It is tough to stop yourself from eating too much chocolate at Easter with all the delicious Easter eggs on sale, but it is important you are mindful of your chocolate consumption.
Nicky Corbishley, says, “I’m a true chocaholic, so I find it a real challenge to have lots of chocolate in the house over Easter.
“Don’t buy too much of it in the first place. We used to buy our kids a pile of Easter eggs, then they’d get lots from other people too. Now we tend to get them a non-chocolate gift instead (art sets and cinema tickets are popular in our house).”
At Champneys we know how easy it is to devour a tasty chocolate egg in one sitting and for those of you looking to reduce your chocolate consumption, Easter is a challenging time. Jenny Paulin has a great recommendation to help you limit your chocolate intake.
“Being a massive chocolate egg eater myself, I know how hard it can be to limit ones intake. I would recommend breaking the eggs up into pieces and dividing them up into food bags/pots so sensible portions are easily available when the munchies attack. Alternatively, ask for non-chocolate gifts if your willpower is too weak!”
- 40g cacao butter
- 40g raw cacao powder
- ½ vanilla pod - seeds only
- 10g rice syrup (or sweetener of choice) - you can add more but try this first
In her blog Vicki says, “So, if you spent the Easter weekend pigging out on chocolate, give this little recipe a go. It is choc (tadah) full of anti-oxidants, iron and magnesium so you needn’t feel guilty about eating it. In fact, I rather think a little piece for breakfast can’t be a bad thing! Of course you don’t have to use ‘egg’ moulds to make your chocolate in. Little cupcake cakes would do fine, but I do urge you to fill them with my strawberry fondant because it is simply delicious!
“I deliberately only make small batches of homemade chocolate…so there is less temptation. Feel free to scale the recipe up to the quantity you desire.”
- 5 tbsp Nutella
- 30 raspberries
- 4 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
- 5 tbsp golden caster sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 150 ml buttermilk
- 70g good quality dark chocolate melted
- 150g plain/all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
If you have mountains of chocolate piled high in your home, then a great way to use some of it up is to use it as an ingredient for mini desserts.
Nicky Corbishley, says, “I like making mini desserts (using up some of that chocolate) – like these chocolate raspberry bites that are only 85 calories each.”
These tasty treats only take 10 minutes to cook and after leaving those to cool for 5 minutes you and you’re friends can enjoy these miniature muffins.
- 2 salmon fillets
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 large celeriac, peeled and roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 tbsp goat chevre
- 1 bunch watercress, roots removed and washed thoroughly
- 2 tbsp capers
- 2 lemons
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- Sea salt, to taste
Jo Travers, who also runs The London Nutritionist site, recommends this dish, “Celariac is great in March and April and it makes a delicious alternative to potato. Watercress is also in season and is full of vitamins and minerals such as folate and potassium. Both of these go very well with salmon and the Scottish salmon season starts in February and March so is a sustainable time to buy it from there.”
This healthy Easter recipe comes from fitness entrepreneur Lorna Jane Clarkson and you can find the whole method for preparing and cooking the meal here.
- Spiced Rack of Lamb
- 3 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
- 3 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
- 2 lamb racks 6 bone, French trimmed, approx. 400g each
- 3 tablespoons runny honey
- 1.5 kg mixed root vegetables chopped into large chunks (I used parsnip, sweet potatoes, beetroot and carrots)
- 2 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil
Over Easter it is naturally easier to focus on sweet recipes, but Eb Gargano from Easy Peasy Foodie says try to focus on savoury recipes.
“To stay healthy at Easter, I tend to avoid focusing on too many sweet recipes (there is already enough chocolate and baked goods circulating at Easter!) and instead focus on savoury recipes, which tend to be more nutritious - I am particularly passionate about roast lamb! Lamb is a rich source of protein, as well as providing several vitamins and minerals, such as zinc and B vitamins, which contribute towards good health and wellbeing… I make sure I also include lots of vitamin rich vegetables too.
“My favourite roast lamb dish is my Spiced Rack of lamb, with Honey Roast Root Vegetables. It would make a lovely centrepiece on Easter Day!”
Kebab from the Children’s Food Trust.
- 1 apple
- 1 pear
- 16–18 blackberries
- 1 small lemon (juice only)
Another great way to get your 5-a-day is to chop up some fruit and to thread it onto a skewer to make fruity kebabs. The Dietitian UK’s Priya, recommends this:
“To help balance out that chocolate make sure you have a good range of fruit and veggies around the house. Fruit kebabs with a little melted chocolate to dip them in can be a nice alternative.”
- 500g strong white bread flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 heaped tsp mixed spice
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g butter, chopped into cubes
- 200g mixed dried fruit
- 7g sachet easy-blend dried yeast
- 200ml milk
- 2 eggs
Crosses & glaze
- 3 tbsp plain flour
Easter is the perfect time to make these delicious treats and they’re simple to make and are surprisingly healthier than you may realise.
Kirsty from The British Dietetic Association, says, “Hot cross buns are always a good one at Easter time as they are relatively low in sugar and fat.”