I’ve put together a vegetarian Easter menu to please herbivores and meat-eaters alike, packed with nutritious ingredients like spring peas, asparagus, fresh herbs, squash, sweet potatoes, flavored-packed farro and spelt, and organic dark chocolate. Fiber-rich plant-based dishes help you feel full and provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals to help offset the negative effects of too many sugary treats from Easter morning. For healthy vegetarian menu tips, read on.
Menu: Vegetarian Easter Dinner
Green Pea Soup with Fresh Tarragon and Pea Shoots (from Epicurious.com)
Reverse Risotto (from Vegetarian Times)
Spring Asparagus with Asiago Gratin (from Leite’s Culinaria)
Coconut Chocolate Pudding with Coconut Flakes (from The Kitchn)
Tips For A Healthier Vegetarian Easter
Tip 1: Choose Organic Produce
Opt for organically grown vegetables such as peas, herbs, asparagus and herbs; your body will thank you! Locally grown, organic produce from your farmers market is ideal — the less distance from field to plate, the more nutrients and the smaller the environmental impact.
Tip 2: Opt for Better Dairy (or none at all)
Organic butter, cheese and yogurt from pastured animals not only tastes delicious, they’re also better for you since the animals are free of hormones and antibiotics. Find local dairy products at your farmers market, or visit Eat Wild and Local Harvest to find nearby dairies. Vegans can replace butter with organic, extra-virgin coconut oil, known for its healthful properties, and substitute cheese with organic raw nut cheese (found at most health food stores).
Tip 3: Serve Nutrient-Rich Grains
Increase the nutrients in the Reverse Risotto by swapping out organic farro or spelt for Arborio or Carnaroli rice (be sure to change cooking times accordingly). These ancient grains are rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Many gluten-intolerant people are able to tolerate either grain without difficulty, though it’s wise to check with guests first. Organic short grain brown rice is a nutritious gluten-free substitute. For the Spring Asparagus, use whole grain breadcrumbs instead of processed white ones.
Tip 4: Choose High Quality Oil and Salt
The quality of the oils and salt you use in cooking makes a big difference for your health. Organic, extra-virgin olive and coconut oils are unrefined, unprocessed and contain superior flavor and health-giving properties (think slim waist and glowing skin) than conventional oils. Salts such as Himalayan salt crystals or Real Salt from Utah have a higher mineral content and are free of toxins.
Tip 5: Use All-Natural Sweeteners
Your chocolate pudding will be just as delicious with organic coconut crystals which are unrefined, full of nutrients and have a lower glycemic load than processed granulated sugar (translation: You’re less likely to have a sugar-induced energy crash).
Tip 6: Antioxidant-Rich Organic Raw Chocolate
Boost antioxidants and other essential health-supporting nutrients with organic raw cacao and cacao powder (a super food!); organic unsweetened cocoa powder and 60% dark chocolate are also good choices.
Enjoy your Easter feast!