Spring is right around the corner, and you know what that means… Easter Candy!!
Kids love Easter, from the brightly decorated eggs to the chocolatey treats.
Unfortunately, excess sugar and fructose are linked to multiple health concerns including childhood obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay.
No one wants to be the monster parent, depriving their children of holiday fun, but at the same time, your child’s health is important.
So, what to do?
Are artificial sweeteners the answer?
The safety of artificial sweeteners has been hotly debated for decades, and, while nothing has been conclusively proven, there have been numerous studies linking artificial sweeteners to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Essentially, the same effects as sugar minus the tooth decay…
Results may not be conclusive, but why take the risk?
Fortunately, there are natural solutions available.
Recently, some manufacturers have started using fruit juice or honey in their sweet treats. Although they contain sugar (glucose) and fructose, studies indicate that fruit juice and honey do not contribute to diabetes or obesity. This may be because, unlike sugar which is refined (i.e., no nutrient value) fruit juice and honey are natural, wholefood sweeteners which still contain healthy nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and bioflavonoids.
Other natural alternatives include stevia and monk fruit. Both are zero calorie, natural sweeteners that do not spike insulin and therefore do not contribute to the health risks mentioned previously.
In studies, stevia is shown to have numerous health benefits, and it acts as an antioxidant in the cells.
Monk fruit has been used in Asia for hundreds of years. It is extracted from the luo han guo fruit. In Chinese medicine, luo han guo is prized for its ability to support the lungs and is often used for respiratory disorders.
Monk fruit sweetener is usually a mix of monk fruit and erythritol (a sugar alcohol). Neither of these substances is absorbed by the body (we don’t have the enzymes to break them down). Erythritol acts as an insoluble fiber and may be beneficial for constipation. An excess can cause temporary indigestion so don’t overdo it! Monk fruit sweeteners work well mixed with stevia, fruit juice or other natural sweeteners to assist in increasing the sweetness of sugary treats.
So, all this information is great but what is the practical application?
Luckily there are several health-conscious companies that strive to make healthy food available and convenient.
Sprouts, Wholefoods, Amazon and Thrive Online Market are great resources for these products.
Recommended Sweet Treats
- Smart Sweets- gummy worms, gummy bears and sweet fish. All are sweetened with a mix of fruit juice and stevia
- Heavenly Organics Chocolate Patties- sweetened with honey
- Lily’s Chocolate- sweetened with stevia
- Lakanto Chocolate- sweetened with monk fruit and erythritol
Currently, companies are not manufacturing sugar-free, naturally sweetened, holiday-themed candies, but there is a simple solution.
Tools and Ingredients
1.Silicone Easter egg candy mold (purchase from Michael’s, Amazon, Target or Walmart)
2. Lily’s stevia-sweetened chocolate chips
Fill Easter themed molds with chocolate chips and microwave until melted.
Press down chocolate and shape to mold
Refrigerate overnight or until hard
Note: Monk fruit can be used in recipes as a sugar substitute on a 1 to 1 ratio and is easily adapted into any traditional candy recipe.
Life is a balancing act. Do you want to be the “fun” parent or the “responsible” parent? Luckily with these healthy Easter tips, you can be both!
Guest Author: Sherry Boxall
Sherry is a health writer with over 8 years of accredited training in the holistic health field and 15 years of clinical practice. Currently, Sherry lives in San Diego, CA where she helps women to lose weight and achieve health.