This weekend the Christian world celebrates Easter, a holiday of rebirth. The Jewish celebration of Passover was a few days ago, and the pagan rebirth celebration of Ostara happens right at the spring equinox, which was March 21. All three celebrations occur in proximity to the Spring Equinox, and signify a rebirth of sorts.
Easter is celebrated by Christians worldwide as a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even if you aren’t Christian, it’s likely that you’re familiar with the more commercialized customs…the Easter Bunny, Easter Egg hunts, jelly beans and marshmallow chickadees. A few years ago, I began to question the association between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Easter bunny.
As I began to research, I realized that many of the modern day Easter traditions derived from rituals and symbols of the Pagan holiday of Ostara, a celebration of the spring equinox and the Great Mother Goddess Eostre of the Saxon people in Northern Europe who was known by a number of names, all derived from the ancient word for spring – “eastre”.
The Easter bunny derives from the legend of a small hare devotee of Eostre’s who wanted to give a gift to the goddess. He came upon an egg, which was a prized find and decided to decorate it to make it a fitting gift for a goddess. The story has it that Eostre was so pleased that she wanted everyone, especially all the children, to enjoy decorated eggs. So the descendants of the hare have been tasked to deliver decorated eggs to all the children of the world, and are called Eostre’s bunnies, or the Easter Bunny.
While the Easter egg hunt was first popularized in the United States in the 1860’s, the custom actually can be traced back to 2000 years earlier in India, Germany and Scandinavia, and has been considered a symbol of the soul’s eternal quest for reaching a state of worthiness for union with the deities.
The tradition of eating sweet treats for Easter goes back hundreds of years. It’s thought to be derived from the tradition of the ancient Anglo-Saxons who baked small wheat cakes in honor the goddess Eostre. Chocolate came into vogue as an Easter treat in Europe, during the early 1800’s. Chocolatiers used the image of the egg as a way to celebrate Easter and sell their newly developed chocolate products. Chocolate bunnies followed later, as more sophisticated candy making techniques emerged. The jelly bean was added to the Easter lineup in the 1930’s.
In my family, decorating eggs was always a big event the night before Easter. On Easter morning, we searched for hidden eggs and chocolate bunnies. My grandmother, who lived downstairs in the two family house that I grew up in, loved to buy lots of candy. She’d lay out the plastic “grass” on a buffet table in her dining room, and hide lots of candy underneath for us to feast on.
Needless to say, we overindulged on hard boiled and chocolate eggs. We’d make egg salad from the eggs, and sometimes have that for Easter breakfast.
Dinner was usually ham, along with roasted potatoes and some sort of vegetable. Dessert could be anything, or just more chocolate. While I don’t recall it being one of my families traditions, Hot Cross Buns are an Easter favorite in many areas.
Since my kids and I eat a plant based diet, ham is not on the Easter menu at our house. A substitute for the richness of the ham can be a savory nut and vegetable loaf. We celebrate the spring with delicate spring vegetables and greens. I also make an egg salad substitute that’s tasty and easy to create, which I share with you below.
“No Egg” Salad
- ½ cup dry sunflower seeds (best if soaked and then dehydrated)
- 1 cup dry Brazil nuts or almonds (best if soaked and then dehydrated)
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon powdered kelp (optional)
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ cup filtered water
- 2 stalks celery, finely diced
- 1 cup fresh coconut meat, cut into approximately 1/4 inch squares (optional, for the texture and appearance of the hard boiled egg white)
- Place all ingredients except celery in a food processor.
- Process until smooth but not creamy.
- Stir in diced celery and coconut meat (optional)
- 1 cup brazil nuts, soaked 4-6 hours or overnight then rinsed and drained
- 1cup almonds, soaked 4-6 hours or overnight then rinsed and drained
- 1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 4-6 hours or overnight then rinsed and drained
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds, soaked 4-6 hours or overnight then rinsed and drained
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 2 apples, red, green or one of each
- 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
- pinch of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- ¼ teaspoon unrefined sea salt
- Black pepper to taste, if desired
- ¼ dry ground nuts or seeds, preferably soaked and then dehydrated.
- 1 /4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 /4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- A few sprinkles of ground black pepper
- 30-40 whole cloves, to decorate the top
- 2 slices fresh pineapple for top
- In a food processor, pulse the Brazil nuts, almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds together until they are almost smooth. Set aside in a large bowl.
- Place the onions and apples in a food processor and pulse until coarse. Add to the bowl of nuts and seeds.
- Add the allspice, cumin, celery seed, salt and pepper if desired and mix together until well combined.
- Form the mixture into a loaf shape on a dehydrator tray lined with a non-stick sheet.
- Combine the ground nuts, nutmeg, cinnamon and black pepper.
- Sprinkle the mixture over the top and sides of the loaf. Be sure to completely cover the loaf with the dry mixture.
- Insert whole cloves onto the top of the loaf.
- Dehydrate the loaf at 118 degrees for 4-8 hours, or until firm to the touch.
- Place pineapple slices on top of the loaf.
- Remove the cloves right before serving.
- Serve with pineapple Glaze.
Pineapple Ginger Glaze for Easter Loaf
- 1 ½ cups dried pineapple soaked a couple of hours in ¾ cup water to just soften
- A ¼ inch thick slice of fresh ginger
- pinch nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon whole, unrefined sea salt
- Drain the pineapple and reserve the soak water.
- Place all ingredients blender and process, slowly adding the soak water until it’s thick and smooth
You might find that your Easter meal doesn’t seem complete without something sweet. Isn’t it interesting that we’ve come to associate just about every major holiday with eating sugar rich treats?
Those of us who have evolved to a new way of eating (which is really a very old way of eating) may be left to battle with cravings that stem from childhood memories of family celebrations.
In our book, Dessert, Making it Rich without Oil, Chef Karen Osborne and I share our favorite dessert recipes, made entirely of whole, fresh, raw ingredients, 100% gluten free and made without any added oil or processed sweeteners. The sweetness comes from fruit.
Here’s one of my favorite recipes from the book. These can be shaped into Easter eggs instead of brownies for a seasonal treat.
SUPERFOOD BROWNIES Turned Easter Eggs
From Dessert, Making it Rich without Oil by Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo and Chef Karen Osborne
Kale is very high in minerals like calcium. It also helps slow down the absorption of fruit sugar into your bloodstream. Yet, in this yummy recipe, nobody can taste the kale at all.
Yield: 8X8 pan – The combination of vanilla and carob makes a delicious chocolate-like brownie.
- 2 cups de-stemmed Kale, lightly packed
- 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups walnuts, soaked and dehydrated
- 1 cup pecans, soaked and dehydrated
- 1 tablespoon ground vanilla beans or vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates
- 2/3 cup carob powder
- 2 tablespoon water
- Process the kale and salt in a food processor until chopped
- Remove the kale to a bowl and set aside.
- Process the walnuts, pecans and vanilla until finely ground being careful not to over process into a nut butter.
- Add the dates and kale and process until the mixture begins to stick together.
- Add the carob powder and process until it is incorporated.
- Add the water and pulse a few times.
- Shape with hands into Easter eggs of desired size.
- Roll in coconut flakes that have been colored by a few drops of various colored vegetable juices, if colored Easter eggs are desired.
- Chill until ready to eat.
The ideal is if you start to make new traditions for yourself as each holiday unfolds for you. Make the holidays about celebrating your health and aliveness, and the circle of life and not about the food. Replace the connection to the health depleting foods of your past with health enhancing foods that nourish and support you to carry out your mission.
Enjoy the holiday weekend, whether you celebrate Easter or not. Choose to celebrate the rebirth of the planet at this magical time of year.
Love, Health and Joy,