By Dr. Felicia D. Stoler
DCN, MS, RDN, FASM, FAND
Stop! Before you stock up on plastic eggs and grass, and harsh, chemical egg dyes, remember that Easter and Earth Day are just a few days apart. There are simple ways your family can celebrate this glorious season and still be good to Mother Earth. It can be as easy as raiding your crafting nook and spice drawer, and reading the ingredient labels on your Easter treats. For example, if bunny or egg-shaped chocolate candy is an Easter basket must-have, choose a variety made with responsibly sourced ingredients such as fair-trade cocoa beans and all-natural, non-GMO Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil. This will satisfy your sweet tooth and your need to care for the planet. Read on for more of my earth-friendly Easter tips.
Choose earth-friendly basket fillers
Unless you have oodles of cellophane left over from previous years, forgo the plastic grass in this year’s Easter basket. A better choice is to use shredded paper. If you don’t have a paper shredder (or have one that shreds too finely for your liking), you can make your own by cutting ¼-inch strips from colorful junk mail. Another option is to use cotton yarn. It’s soft and cradles eggs gently. Plus, it can be knitted or crocheted into something new when the season is over, or simply reused next season.
Shop for certified sustainable candy products
While seasonal candies are tasty, they always aren’t the best for our planet. Look for jelly beans made without synthetic dyes, artificial colors and high-fructose corn syrup, which is commonly made with genetically modified corn. When it comes to chocolate confections, many American candy companies, such as Hershey’s, Ghirardelli and Nestle have already committed to using responsibly sourced ingredients such as cocoa and palm oil. Much of the palm oil used in the United States is sustainably grown and produced in Malaysia, one of the world’s most eco-friendly countries.
Color eggs naturally
You don’t need to buy an overpriced kit to color eggs. There are many all-natural dyes that you can make with ingredients you will find in your kitchen. Simply simmer the food or spice with three cups of water, two tablespoons of white vinegar and one teaspoon of salt for 30 minutes or until desired color is reached. Strain the mixture, and then add your hard-boiled eggs to the dye. Leave your eggs in the solution for at least 20 minutes or even overnight (in the fridge) for a deeper color. If you want a more vibrant, shiny color, rub your eggs with a small amount of Malaysian palm oil once they are completely dry. Here are a few foods to try:
3 tablespoons turmeric or cumin: yellow
1 cup finely-chopped spinach: green
½-cup red beets: pink
1-cup thinly sliced red cabbage: blue
Peels from two yellow onions: orange
About the author: Dr. Felicia D. Stoler, America’s Health & Wellness Expert™, is a registered dietitian nutritionist, exercise physiologist and expert consultant in nutrition and healthful living. She was the host for TLC’s reality show, Honey We’re Killing the Kids. She is the author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes™: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great (Pegasus 2011). She specializes in integrating behavior modification to influence positive health outcomes.