Don't Let Easter make a Bad Egg out of your child!
Easter is a special time of year when children anticipate the Easter Bunny, religious devotees celebrate ‘new life’, and a well-earned holiday is had by all. However, many parents are well aware that happy children often face the ‘sugar blues’ after consuming their Easter delights. The ‘sugar blues’ refers to that ecstatic state your child enters shortly after eating sweet foods, which is closely followed by irritability, tantruming and dismal deeds! Yes, we love to surprise our children with Sunday morning
Easter Bunny gifts, but I’m sure most would agree that the behavioural lows that follow the sugar highs can be equally as dramatic.
What we used to eat
Long ago, our ancestors’ bodies were mainly fuelled by plant foods: vegetables, leaves, roots, bark, nuts and fungi, and milk and meat if they were lucky. In most ancient civilisations, eating honey, fruits, sweet plants, and insects such as ‘honey ants’, were a rarity and a treat. The scarcity didn’t matter though: people’s bodies functioned well and children had abundant energy.
Humans are designed to function on glucose, a simple sugar which doesn’t need to come solely from sweet foods. Our bodies have specialised functions dedicated to supplying this energy source from the diet. For instance, complex carbohydrates, and sometimes fats and proteins, are broken down and converted into a steady flow of blood glucose. We are also equipped with energy storage areas, such as glycogen and fat, to draw upon in times of need.
The discovery of sugar
A few hundred years after the first Easter, early historical recordings reported ‘a reed which gives honey without bees’: cane sugar. It took centuries for the fame of sugar to spread throughout the Old World. When agriculture expanded during the industrial era, cane sugar became readily accessible and cheap to buy. It quickly evolved from being an occasional food to a regular in modern food recipes.
Why sugar is addictive
There is a sinister reason why sugar has exploded in popularity has bloomed at an insatiable rate. Due to a biochemical reaction in the human body, sugar is addictive. There is a neurological pathway from the mouth up to the brain’s ‘happy registry’, also referred to as the ‘pleasure centre’ or the ‘reward centre’. Drugs find their way there unaided; sugar forges a highway along the same route.
What happens to your child’s body
When consumed, blood glucose levels dramatically rise and the brain’s pleasure centre is stimulated, resulting in energy, exuberance and a sense of gratification. But soon these levels fall to a significantly lower point, leaving people reeling (and children squealing) for more. This emotional cycle creates a physical routine of people ‘fixing’ with sugar foods to avoid feeling low.
It is commonly understood that most habits start early in life, so it is of interest that scientists record children’s tastebuds perceive sweetness more quickly and of higher intensity than adults. (Parents, for your information: alcohol is basically sugar.)
Our bodies are not designed to process sugar in large quantities on a regular basis. Eventually, the systems controlling energy conversion within the body can become exhausted, and the long-term effects are dysfunctions such as diabetes, obesity,premature aging, immune suppression, depression, and ADHD symptoms.
Sugar comes in many disguises
Once you investigate the ingredients labelled on your current food items, you will probably be shocked to find that even savoury foods, such as potato chips and rice crackers, often include sugar.
Sugar also has several names – corn syrup, dehydrated cane juice, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose, highfructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltodextrin, malt, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar, rice syrup, saccharose, sorghum syrup, sucrose, syrup, and treacle.
What can we do as parents?
Knowing that our kids are probably consuming far more sugar than is healthy, should we deny them they pleasure of Easter eggs and other sweet treats?
My answer is to promote good health, but restrict sweet foods to rare treats.
FOOD IN FOCUS - EGGS
Eggs (from hens, not Easter bunnies) are nuggets of power, containing vitamins, minerals and essential elements. They are an ideal source of protein, which is why the addition of eggs to sweet recipes can help slow down the release of sugar into kids’ bloodstreams. Interestingly, the humble ‘googy egg’ or ‘cackle berry’ is also one of the only foods containing the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D, necessary for strong bone growth.
HERE ARE SOME HAND TIPS TO BEAT THE 'SUGAR BLUES' THIS EASTER:
- Healthy first. Give your child a healthy meal or snack before eating Easter eggs. The complex carbohydrates, proteins and fats contained in the meal will help reduce the rate at which sugar enters the bloodstream.
- Offer other treats too: replace solid chocolate gifts with other Easter treats containing less sugar and healthier ingredients like one of the Coast Kids recipes below.
- Say no to choco: consider a nonconfectionary Easter treat, such as a soft toy bunny or Easter stickers.
- Little bunnies: Reduce the actual quantity or size of chocolate treats you purchase this Easter – you will survive without the excess!
FUN EASTER EGG RECIPES
Eggshell preparation for recipes
- Tap a small hole in the top of an egg’s shell with a pointed knife, and gently twist to open. Peel away the shell until approximately a 10 cent hole is exposed. Turn out contents and rinse shell. Place eggshells back into carton.
- Cut off 4cm strips of tin foil, and then halve the strips. Fold lengthways and turn over eggshell rim to protect edges. Children may decorate eggshells with non-toxic, heatproof materials.
Crunchy Chocolate Eggs
(Makes ½ dozen eggs)
½ cup rice bubbles or puffed grain
¼ cup desiccated coconut
¼ cup maple syrup
80 ml extra virgin coconut oil
50g macadamia nut halves
1½ tbsp cacao powder
Place eggshells in an egg carton. If solid, gently melt coconut oil on the stove. Beat egg. Mix egg, maple syrup and cacao into the oil. Add desiccated coconut. Stir through rice bubbles and macadamia nuts. Spoon mixture into eggshells. Top up eggshells with excess liquid. Set in refrigerator overnight. Peel away shell for a solid Easter egg (warm weather will make eggs melt).
4 egg yolks (keep whites for the Strawberry Mousse Eggs recipe)
½ cup self-raising flour
½ cup coconut cream
1/3 cup agave syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
pinch sea salt
Take a muffin tin and line each section with twisted aluminium foil or greaseproof paper rings for eggs to nest in. Beat egg yolks together, then combine with salt, coconut cream, agave syrup and vanilla essence. Beat in flour. Pour mixture into eggshells up to foil rim. Bake at 160?C (fan forced) for 20-25 minutes. Mixture should rise out of the shell to create a ‘head’ (remove spill-overs after baking). Allow the cakes to rest for 10 minutes before removing from oven. When cool, help children to remove shells to reveal fluffy chicken bodies. Place on side, add currents or choc chips for eyes, shape a white yoghurt button for a beak, and skewers for legs.
Strawberry Mousse Eggs
(Makes approx. 12)
300g fresh strawberries (or thawed,frozen strawberries)
4 egg whites (keep yolks for the Hatching Chickens recipe)
½ lime or lemon, juice
½ cup of coconut cream or thickened cream
1/3 cup rapadura sugar
pinch sea salt
Place eggshells in egg carton. Blend strawberries, juice and sugar together. Beat coconut cream until frothy or beat thickened cream until firm. Add to berry mixture. Beat egg whites and salt until stiff. Gently fold the berry mixture into the egg whites. Spoon mousse into eggshells and refrigerate for two hours.