Growing up, Easter was always about the Easter Bunny sneaking into our home while we slept and leaving candy eggs hidden all over our house for us to find. He also usually left a bucket or Easter basket for each of us with a large chocolate bunny and maybe a small toy or two. A special Easter Breakfast typically consisted of hot cross buns, the boiled eggs that we would have dyed or painted the day before, kipper, grapefruit, and candy (I think my mom tried to balance out the candy with a fairly high protein breakfast, which totally makes sense to me). Easter was otherwise marked by a walk, spending time with family, and a big family dinner, although what we ate changed from year to year.
When I became a mother, I wanted to keep these traditions intact. I have very fond memories of my childhood Easters. I’m not sure why these memories aren’t full of the stress and dysfunctional family dynamics that I always associated with Christmas; but, I’m happy they don’t. Instead I just remember simplicity, happiness, good food and candy. My daughters’ first Easters were similar to my childhood ones. The Easter bunny came while they slept, and hid chocolate Easter eggs around the living room and kitchen. An attempt at calming the sugar highs with high protein foods and fresh air was made, but typically unsuccessful. Were we that crazy on sugar when we were kids? As a parent, Easter (or Halloween or any day that is celebrated with high-sugar junk) has not met the standards of my childhood memories. I seem to spend it negotiating how many candies, how many bites of healthy food, dealing with tantrums, and generally not enjoying myself. When I asked my mother why Easter was so much better than Christmas, she explained that it was because Easter was on her terms whereas Christmas was taken over by her parent’s generation. That explains why Easter is not as fun for me as a parent. My children have always been super sensitive to sugar and food dyes. And hyperactivity, sugar crashes and the ensuing tantrums definitely do not qualify as “Easter on my terms”.
So, I am rethinking Easter. This comes partly because this is my first ever Paleo Easter and the way I feed my family just won’t work for the kind of sugar benders we used to have. We don’t eat much sugar at all in our house anymore. Even a couple of paleo cookies or a bowl of dried fruit can send my kids on a blood sugar roller-coaster. I shudder to think of what a handful of store-bought Easter candy would do! But I still want to retain that magic that I felt as a kid. So this year, I sent a letter to the Easter Bunny. It read:
Dear Mr. Easter Bunny,
We greatly appreciate you coming to our house while we sleep and hiding such lovely treats for us. It is so much fun to search for the plastic eggs you hide every year and open them to find a surprise. We wanted to let you know that we are eating much healthier now and don’t like to eat very much sugar. This year, could you please leave us something other than candy in the plastic eggs?
With sincere thanks,
The Ballantyne Family
It turns out that the Easter Bunny is quite happy to leave small toys instead of candy hidden around your house (and it also turns out that the post office can deliver letters to the Easter Bunny). This year, the plastic eggs will be filled with Lego pieces (the bigger pieces and a couple of other small toys will be in Easter buckets left on the hearth). We get to enjoy hunting for eggs and then we get to sit and build something really cool!
Our Easter treats will all be homemade (and portion controlled!). In addition to my Paleo Creme Eggs, I am making chocolate eggs filled with unsweetened almond butter and I will be following a recipe for a coconut filling from Eat Like a Dinosaur by The Paleo Parents. I have made some amazing paleo hot cross buns (recipe coming this week!), which will be eaten on the side of eggs and bacon for breakfast (I’m the only one in my house that likes kipper, isn’t that sad???). We will go for a family walk. We will have lamb for supper with some delicious veggies. We will avoid sugar crashes, gut-irritating foods, and tantrums of all kinds. This will be Easter: simple, happy, good food, and candy. But on my terms.