Time to celebrate!
Thank you for all the great comments and questions on my last post about the end of my Lenten healthy eating experiment! I will be getting to your questions soon. First, I need to take a short mental break from dieting to catch up on all the other things we have been doing.
First, I think it is only necessary to comment on all the wonderful foods we enjoyed on Easter. Just as “work hard, play hard” is a maxim many people aspire to, “diet hard, feast hard” is probably the corollary.
I spent almost all day on Saturday in the kitchen preparing for Easter.
Easter Egg Dyeing
Earlier in the week, my children decorated hard boiled eggs. I found these egg painting kits at the dollar store and bought one for each of them. It was a little hard to get the eggs in and out but other than that, they were easy to use and the paints washed off of skin easily with soap and water.
Each child had a unique egg painting technique: here fingerpainting,
My son prefers to mix all the paints together into mud-like colors and paint the eggs with that. His brown eggs were actually quite beautiful. My daughter said they looked like dinosaur eggs.
This daughter preferred to paint in bold stripes.
The gorgeous finished eggs!
My menu of Easter foods was eclectic. The children had some sweets picked out that they wanted. I wanted to make a traditional Greek Easter bread as a reminder of my heritage. For the main courses, however, I tried to choose clean eating recipes so that we would have at least a few healthy things among all the treats. Some of the recipes I had been eyeing during my diet.
Greek Easter Bread
I used this recipe from Chow for my Greek Easter bread:
Two spices used in Greek Easter bread are mahlepi (mahlab in Arabic), an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a cherry and mastic, the sap of the mastic tree, known as the “tears of Chios.” I found them at our local Mediterranean foods shop called “Nile Market.”
Zesting an orange for the Easter bread.
Kneading the dough with my daughter.
The braided dough awaiting final rising.
I was trying to think of a healthy family-friendly dish that we could all eat. Meatballs were an easy choice. I used this recipe for turkey meatballs from actress Jessica Alba that was posted on Martha Stewart’s website. I liked that they had some vegetables snuck inside of them.
I used a bit more vegetables than the recipe called for. My children saw me making these and vowed that they would not eat them. Fortunately, once they tasted the finished product they changed their minds.
I saw an adorable picture for cupcakes decorated like rabbits on a recipe website. It seemed that it was just a piece of clip art and there were no specific instructions how to make them. I used a store-bought package of carrot cake and made it into mini-cupcakes. We decorated them with store bought cream cheese frosting, marshmallows, colored sugar and mini Reeses pieces. The children helped and loved this project!
The girls worked hard on the decorating while their brother worked hard on tasting all of the candy toppings.
The bunny cupcakes in progress.
Just after I started my healthy eating diet, my daughter requested that we make a rainbow layered cake. I looked up some ideas online and found that we would have to make 7 layers of cake all tinted the colors of the rainbow. I was not thrilled with this idea. Soon after, we were shopping at the grocery store and my daughter found a “spring” cake with two different colored layers: one pink and one yellow. This seemed to satisfy her rainbow cake notions so we bought the cake mix to make for Easter. It sat on the counter for weeks and my daughter continually reminded me that we needed to make it. When finally the day came, she was so excited!
The cake mix!
Frosting the layers. We didn’t go to the trouble of properly leveling the cake so the layers were even. We just did our best to frost it and put it together the best we could.
My daughter’s decoration for the top of the cake.
This caked ended up being quite a source of hilarity (and stress) for me. This cake went through several iterations before it was eaten.
What happens when you leave a 2-year old alone with a cake. He put his fingers all over the top!
My attempt to repair the cake before my daughter saw her brother’s damage.
Breakfast: preparing for the sugar infusion to follow with a mango smoothie and grain-free granola.
For breakfast, I used two recipes from Dr. Sandra Cabot’s website:
The mango smoothie is delicious and the granola smells awesome but tastes a bit bland. Still, if you are doing clean eating, you just crave the fats in the nuts and it has a nice crunch.
Then, it was time to indulge! We had so much candy it looked like a candy factory exploded in our house! Here, an Easter bunny Kit Kat for my Kit Kat loving daughter.
Easter isn’t complete without Peeps! Here: party cake Peeps for my marshmallow loving daughter.
We sliced into the finished Greek Easter bread. It has the same dense crumb I remember from my grandmother’s recipe but a totally different flavor. This bread was more citrus-inspired with the orange zest. It was very delicious, though! My grandmother used anise (a licorice flavor) which I will have to try next time.
The bunny cupcakes were delightful treats. They were small and it was shockingly easy to devour handfuls of them.
For lunch, my husband and I were both ready for a break from sugar. All of these are clean eating recipes. We had lamb chops with two types of salad.
For lunch, I chose all clean eating recipes. For me, it was important psychologically to associate clean eating with celebration and not just as a sort of dieting punishment. Clean food can be extraordinarily delicious.
All of these lunch recipes were winners. We enjoyed them all!
For dinner, we had Jessica Alba’s meatballs along with a simple salad of kale, cabbage and carrots with the leftover balsamic lime vinaigrette. Everyone devoured the meatballs, including the children!
After asking me about it all day, it was finally time to cut into the Easter cake. By this time, the cake had gone through another decorating iteration. My daughter (the chef) decided that it should be covered in Peeps and chocolate eggs.
As I was cutting the cake, my daughter kept saying, “Please let it come out right! Please!” When she saw the slice had the layers just like the picture on the box, she was elated! The Peeps made it even better too!
As you can see, our Easter was thoroughly delicious!
Did you make anything special for your Easter celebration? Please share in the comments.