Easter, a time for togetherness and wholesome foods.
Anything that brings a family together is my favourite time of the year. Easter, Christmas, family dinner, birthday parties and family holidays are my greatest joys.
This is also a time for me to nourish my family, not make them sick with ultra-processed foods, like commercial chocolate Easter eggs and hot cross buns.
Easter food traditions, from giving Easter eggs to eating hot cross buns, have been a part of our Easter celebrations for years.
Celebrating Easter is most commonly associated with the Christian faith. However, some Easter traditions are also pre-date back to Pagan rituals too. These rituals celebrated the arrival of Spring and the equinox which occurs around the same time.
The history of Easter rituals
The egg is symbolic, representing the earth, new life and resurrection. In Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime, the egg is a symbol of light. When Dinewan the Emu quarreled with Brolga the dancing bird, Brolga angrily grabbed an egg from Dinewan’s nest and launched it into the sky. The yolk struck wood, caught fire and was transformed into a dazzling sun that illuminated the world.
The hot cross bun has varying symbolizations. It is not only paganism but Christianity that lays claim to this bun. The pagan Saxons baked buns marked with a cross at the beginning of spring to honour the goddess Eostre, which is likely where the name Easter comes from. The cross represents the rebirth of the world after winter, the four quarters of the moon are the four seasons and the wheel of life. I quite like that symbolism.
The Christians saw the crucifixion on the bun and replaced the pagan meaning for a Christian one – the resurrection of Christ at Easter. The cross representing the cross on which Jesus died.
With these long-held traditions in mind, it doesn’t mean you can’t have chocolate Easter eggs and hot cross buns it just means to choose these foods wisely. They can be healthy, it’s all about the right ingredients.
Easter goodies, the healthy way
This Easter I’ve purchased some Easter bunny moulds to make chocolate for everyone that comes to my home. I make my chocolate with simple ingredients including Changing Habits Cacao Melts, cacoa butter, Changing Habits Rapadura Sugar and a pinch of Changing Habits Seaweed Salt. It’s easy to do, it tastes great and is good for your health. With those foundational ingredients I can make a whole host of different flavoured chocolates. I can add roasted nuts, chilli, peppermint oil, That Healthy Co Wild Collagen Reds or Foraged For You The Mothers Blend for extra nutrients.
Click here for the yummiest Changing Habits Rocky Road Easter Eggs recipe.
Let’s look at store brought Easter treats
Once you get into the swing of making these chocolates you will find it hard to go out and purchase chocolate that are laced with additives. Here is an example of the ingredients in a chocolate Easter egg I found in the grocery store.
FULL CREAM MILK, SUGAR, COCOA BUTTER, COCOA MASS, MILK SOLIDS, EMULSIFIERS (SOYLECITHIN, 476), FLAVOURS.
Yes, it is similar ingredients to my chocolate recipe but quality is something that may be missing in these ingredients. The added full cream milk and milk solids could also have canola oil and soy lecithin added, it all depends on whether the milk is instantized.
Sugar is the next ingredient; it will be white and void of all nutrition unlike Rapadura Sugar which is unrefined and filled with nutrition. Emulsifiers (soy lecithin and 476) 476 is known as polyglycerol esters of interesterified ricinoleic acid made from castor oil or soy oil.
The process of interesterification has taken over from partial hydrogenation which was shown to create trans fats (bad for the heart). Interesterification creates a whole new fat called an IF (interesterified fat). Preliminary research shows that it causes a prediabetic state, margarine and solid vegetable oils are made using this process. You sometimes wonder why we have had a surge in diabetes. 1.7 million people in Australia now suffer from this lifestyle food related disease.
Emulsifiers (soy lecithin and 476) have an uncanny ability to destroy the bacteria in our microbiome that helps make our mucus layer that protects the gastrointestinal lining, which in turn can prevent against inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic syndrome and other chronic inflammatory diseases.
What seems to be an innocuous ingredient, when piled with everything else we eat they become a menace to health. It would be interesting for you to go into your pantry and have a look at the packaged foods that have emulsifiers. Many foods have them as they keep ingredients combined.
The last ingredient is flavour in this Easter egg from a favourite brand, while it seems like a little word it is something quite more. It can have up to 100 ingredients in the flavour or it can be made using synthetic biology/bioengineering (genetic engineering of microbes to produce the right flavour). For instance, vanilla flavouring can be made with the genetic modification of a microbe with a gene from the vanilla pod placed on plastic to make the flavour. It’s up to you whether you really want to feed things like this to your family. Once you know it’s hard not to know how they manipulate microbes and chemicals to make us think their ultra-processed foods are food.
Here are the ingredients from another chocolate that’s a favourite in many households.
SUGAR, COCONUT (CONTAINS PRESERVATIVE (223 ( SULPHITES)), GLACE CHERRIES (CHERRIES, WHEAT GLUCOSE SYRUP, COLOUR (163), ACIDITY REGULATOR (330), PRESERVATIVE (223 ( SULPHITES)), COCOA MASS, WHEAT GLUCOSE SYRUP, SWEETENED CONDENSED MILK (MILK, SUGAR), VEGETABLE FAT, COCOA BUTTER, MILK SOLIDS, COCOA POWDER, GELATINE, INVERT SUGAR, EMULSIFIERS (SOY LECITHIN, 476), COLOURS (120, 160c), FLAVOURS, MINERAL SALT (500).
The mind boggles.
Now let’s look at hot cross buns.
My mother made hot cross buns from scratch. Good Friday was always church and then home for hot cross buns, scrambled eggs and black coffee. She would start them the day before and only use the best of ingredients. The basics – wheat flour, yeast, butter, sugar, eggs, milk, mixed dried fruit, mixed spice, real vanilla and salt. Click here for the Changing Habits Hot Cross Buns recipe.
These are the ingredients in a hot cross bun from Woolworths.
WHEAT FLOUR (VITAMINS (THIAMIN, FOLATE)), FRUIT MIX (24%) (SULTANAS (COTTONSEED OIL), CURRANT (SUNFLOUR OIL)), WATER, SUGAR, CROSSING MIX (WHEAT STARCH, WHEAT FLOUR, CANOLA OIL, EMULSIFIER (475, 471). THICKENER (415), SALT), CANOLA OIL, GLAZE (WATER, SUGAR, VEGETABLE GUM (440), ACIDITY REGULATOR (330), PRESERVATIVE (202), EMULSIFIER (435)), YEAST, SPICES, WHEAT GLUTEN, IODISED SALT. CONTAINS: GLUTEN. MAY BE PRESENT: EGG, mILK, PEANUTS, SOYBEANS, SESAME SEEDS, TREE NUTS, SULPHITES AND LUPIN.
As I have gone through the chocolate ingredients, I could go through each of the hot cross bun ingredients, numbers, emulsifiers, thickeners, preservatives and dubious ingredients grown using chemicals that not only destroy soil health but your health. I could let you know how each is made and what they do to your health, but I think you get the picture. For a full run down I suggest you read my book Lab to Table.
If you would like to learn more about nutrition, the best thing you can do for you and your family is to study one of our nutrition courses. This Easter when you enrol in the Introduction to Nutrition course you get the course for $97 (usually $197) plus you receive a FREE Lab to Table audio book. Find out more here.
Why not make this Easter a time to nourish you, your family and planet earth by choosing good quality food, ingredients and get back into the kitchen to feed and nourish your family to heal this nation.
Best Selling Author
Founder of Changing Habits, Changing Habits Farm and The Nutrition Academy
Producer of the Documentary What’s With Wheat