“Easter time is the time for eggs and the time for eggs is Easter time. Chocolate eggs, sugar candy eggs, and lots of coloured hard-boiled eggs.”
Growing up, we used to sing this song for the Easter hat parade at my primary school. Back then, kids with a food intolerance or sensitivities were as rare as hen’s teeth, and we all ate chocolate bunnies and hot cross buns with vim and vigour. Nowadays, things are a little bit different.
The results of the CSIRO Healthy Diet Survey1 of 40,000 Australian man and women showed that these adults consumed, on average, 3.3 serves of chocolate per week. That’s the equivalent of 32kg of chocolate per year, and looks like 16 family sized blocks of chocolate, or 32 Golden Bunnies.
AM I ALLERGIC OR JUST SENSITIVE?
Even though they are often used interchangeably, food allergies, intolerance, and sensitivities are not the same thing. Food allergies are an immune mediated response to a substance (allergen) that stimulates the production proteins (allergy antibodies) which act to identify and react with foreign substances 2. Symptoms of food allergies can include hives, swelling of the lips or face, wheezing, difficulty breathing or even anaphylaxis.
Food sensitivities however can be a little less dramatic and noticeable. They can cause bloating, excess gas, bowel disruptions (either constipation or diarrhoea), sinus or stuffed up noses, temper tantrums, migraines or a foggy brain. Food sensitivities can be harder to pin-point, and may be more difficult to test for.
HOW TO STAY ON TRACK OVER EASTER?
The same way you stay on track with your gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free routine usually; by being prepared! There have been many parties I have gone to, and in attempt to not ‘put out’ the host, or ‘be difficult’, I have eaten the foods graciously provided, only to experience an influx of symptoms the following day. I understand that cooking gluten free hot-cross buns, or sourcing dairy-free chocolates may be difficult for some family and friends, which is why I am usually prepared. Here are some tips to make it a bit easier to stay on track over Easter.
- If family or friends wish to gift your child sweet treats over Easter, but your child has intolerances, considering buying some treats you know your child can eat safely, and give them to family or friends to gift to the child.
- Have a Pot-Luck Sunday lunch. If your friends and family are planning a big gathering for Sunday, consider making it a Pot-Luck meal. Every family brings a dish. If you make something you know you and your family can eat, you are guaranteed to have something there to enjoy. Consider making labels for all food ideas, identifying which ones may be suitable for intolerances.
- BYO – when In doubt about what options may be provided, I just pack enouh snacks and a meal to last me the duration of the function.
WHAT ABOUT SUGAR?
I am a big fan of ‘everything in moderation’, but I also understand that some foods are better for us than others. Too much sugar in your diet can lead to fatty liver disease, increase your cardiovascular disease risk, cause inflammation in your body, and may attribute to poor gut function. Dr. Axe has written a great article about sugar here
If you are making your own sweet treats this Easter, consider experimenting with some of these refined sugar substitutes.
- Pureed apples
- Maple syrup
- Real fruit jam
I’M NOT A CHEF!
So, you’re not a chef, baker or patissier? Never fear, I have done the oh-so-hard job of trialling some gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free Easter treats. Please remember that these items are meant as treats, and are being suggested as alternatives to chocolates for food sensitivities, and will contain sugar in some form.
Chocolate Bark Recipe
- ½ of cup of Cacao Butter
- ½ cup of Raw Cacao Powder
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Nectar, Agave, or Maple syrup
- pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp each of Goji berries, walnuts, pepitas; roughly chopped. You can use other ‘toppings’, such as toasted slithered almonds, other nuts and seeds.
- In a double boiler gently melt cacao butter, and coconut oil together.
- Add inyour choice of sweetener and whisk to combine.
- When completely combined, remove from heat and add your cacao powder and sea salt, whisk until all lumps are removed and the mixture is smooth
- Pour the mixture onto a lined baking tray (I use baking paper). Spread the mixture out so its 2-4mm thick. Sprinkle with your toppings of chice.
- Pop in to the fridge for a couple of hours, until it has set nicely. Once set, use a sharp knife to break slab into shards. Serve on a platter with other treats, or enjoy a piece with a nice cup of tea.
Creamy Tummy Gummies
- 1 400ml can of coconut milk, full cream
- 1 tsp vanilla essence, or a vanilla bean
- 40g maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
- 4-5 Tbsp grass fed gelatin
- ½ Tbsp cacao powder
- In a small sauce pan, pour HALF of the coconut milk, all the vanilla, and sweetener and whisk to combine.
- Once combined, keep whisking and sprinkle in the gelatine a Tbsp at a time. It will thicken. Whisk well and set aside
- Divide the remaining Coconut milk into to vessels. Add the cacao powder to one of these. Set both aside
- On a very low heat, with careful not too over heat or boil, heat up the milk with the gelatin vanilla, and sweetener. As the gelatin dissolves the mix will become a smooth liquid. Keep stirring, and don’t allow it to heat about luke warm,
- Pour half of the heat mix into the cacao milk, mix well.
- Pour the other half of the heated mix into the plain milk. Mix well.
- Pour the chocolate milk mix into moulds or a lined tray, pop in in the freezer for a couple of minutes.
- Take the mould/tray out of the freezer, and pour the plain milk on top of the set chocolate.
- Return to the fridge and allow to set. If you made these in one big tray, once set, remove from mould, cut into small cubes, and store in an airtight container.
- Enjoy the creamy Tummy Gummy Treat.
1.Hendrie, G., Baird, D., Golley, S., Noakes, M. (CSIRO) Healthy Diet Score 2016. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 2016. https://www.totalwellbeingdiet.com/media/524038/16-00679_CSIRO-Healthy-Diet-Score-2016_WEB_singlepages.pdf
2. The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA). Food Allergy. https://allergy.org.au/images/pcc/ASCIA_PCC_Food_Allergy_2016.pdf