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    A guide to the best Easter treats – you may be surprised!

    Yes it’s Easter – a delight for some and a worry for others on the food front! Relax, choose your Easter treats wisely and enjoy this special time of year without feeling bad…

    Let’s start with chocolate – I admit it, I’m a chocaholic! After the few weeks of lent every year I really, really look forward to a chocolate treat at Easter. Many people say they’re addicted to chocolate but in reality it’s sugar they’re hooked on… let’s take a closer look:

    A typical small-medium Easter egg (in the shops at 3 for €5 these days) like the Cadbury’s Buttons 128g  contains 678 calories and a whopping 72g sugar – around 3 times the recommended daily intake and just so you can visualise it that’s 18 teaspoons of sugar… or the equivalent of 2 cans of Coke – and these are among the smallest Easter eggs around!!!

     A single (40g) Cadbury’s Creme Egg has 177 calories and 26.5g sugar – just over the daily limit so if you have one of these as your Easter treat then you’re just about OK! Same goes for the little Malteser bunnies (29g) – it’s the small portion that wins the day at 156kcal and 15g sugar

    My own preference would be for dark chocolate – some people find it too bitter but it’s just a matter of getting used to the lower sugar content… you honestly will find after a while that regular milk chocolate is just too sickly sweet once you stay off high sugar foods for a while. Mind out though, you can easily get hooked again! Dark chocolate – 70% cocoa solids or more – is a better choice, but not all dark chocolate is the same – Bourneville actually has slightly MORE sugar than regular Dairy Milk chocolate and only 36% cocoa solids!

    Calories are about the same in dark and milk chocolate, but a typical 70% chocolate like Lindt Excellence (they do a 220g Easter egg) contains 27g sugar per 100g – so about half of your typical milk chocolate. The difference is, it’s easier to be satisfied more easily with the higher fat but lower sugar content of the dark chocolate so a little goes a long way.

    Make it fun for kids (and adults!) by setting clues for an Easter egg hunt and adding little non-food gifts too…  Bottom line is portion size when it comes to chocolate – a little is fine (40-50g for an Easter treat, not every day!) but when you look at the stats in an article in the Independent this week, for example that sales of Easter eggs in Ireland this Easter holiday are predicted to top €38.5m – that’s around €8 for every person in the country… an awful lot of chocolate!

    Instead of focussing on chocolate, how about a special homemade treat like these hot cross buns from the master Paul Hollywood… I made them last year and they were gorgeous, it was worth the effort just to enjoy that wonderful smell in the kitchen when they were baking and the anticipation of enjoying them! They work out at 226 calories each or 277 with a level teaspoon each of butter and jam.

    A nice dessert for Easter Sunday if you want to keep it simple is to buy a sponge flan case, a 200g one will serve 6 people, you can top it with 180ml cream, whipped and about 450g prepared fruit like berries/grapes/kiwi/pineapple – delicious, nutritious and low enough in sugar at about 290kcal and 16g sugar per portion.