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Tips for a Healthy Easter Dinner

March 28, 2012
It's easy to prepare a healthy Easter dinner full of spring flavor with our easy Easter dinner recipe ideas. (Photo by: iStockphoto)

Easter doesn’t have to mean candy comas and too much honey-glazed ham. I’ve put together a holiday menu that’s packed with nutrient-rich ingredients like watercress, strawberries, and carrots. Plant-based dishes help you fill up more quickly and give your body the nutrients it needs to offset the negative effects of too many chocolate bunnies and marshmallow Peeps! And while ham isn’t exactly a health food, you can do your body a solid by choosing a ham that’s free of antibiotics and hormones; for more healthy tips, read on.

Menu: Easter Dinner

(Vegetarians, take note: I’m cooking up a meat-free Easter menu to share with you next week.)

Thyme Honey-Glazed Ham (

Roasted Potatoes, Parsnips and Carrots (Jamie Oliver)

Watercress Salad with Verjus Vinaigrette (Food and Wine)

Ricotta Cake with Strawberries (Martha Stewart)

Tips For A Healthier Easter

Tip #1:  Serve Local, Antibiotic- and Hormone-Free Ham

Make your way to your local farmer’s market and find out who offers ham made from grass-fed pigs raised without antibiotics or hormones. You can also use the Eat Wild and Local Harvest websites to find local markets and producers.

Tip #2:  Choose Organic Produce

Choose organically grown strawberries, watercress, and root vegetables; your body will thank you for sparing it a side of pesticides.  Look for carrots and potatoes in blue, red, orange and yellow at your local farmer’s market; these deep colors are a clue that the veggies are rich in antioxidants and other important nutrients. Locally grown organic produce is ideal — the less distance from field to plate, the more nutrients… and the smaller the environmental impact.

Tip #3:  Choose High Quality Oil and Salt

You might not realize that the quality of the oils and salt you use in cooking makes a big difference for your health. High quality organic, extra-virgin olive oil and coconut oil are unrefined, unprocessed and contain superior flavor and health-giving properties (think slim waist and glowing skin).  And salts such as Himalayan salt crystals or Real Salt from Utah have a high mineral content and are toxin-free.

Tip #4:  Use All-Natural Sweeteners

A honey-glazed ham deserves 100 percent pure, local, raw honey, a natural sweetener that is filled with nutrients.  And your ricotta cake will be just as scrumptious with organic coconut crystals, which are unrefined and have a lower-glycemic load than processed granulated sugar (translation: you’re less likely to have that sugar-induced energy crash).

Tip #5:  Opt for Better Dairy and Eggs

Organic milk, cheese and eggs from pasture-raised animals not only taste more delicious, they’re also much better for you, since the animals are free of hormones and antibiotics. Find out who carries local dairy and eggs at your farmer’s market, or visit the Eat Wild and Local Harvest websites to find local producers.

Enjoy your Easter feast, and let us know if you have any additional tips or tricks for making holidays healthier!

Main photo courtesy of iStockphoto. Photo of watercress salad by Flickr user anjuli_ayer. Photo of honey by Flickr user misone2000.

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