Easter is the second most important holiday in Christian cultures right after Christmas. In both cases, the rich and heavy meals represent quite a challenge for those who are trying to stick to a specific diet. Travelo advises to prepare ourselves for the big Easter feasts ahead and to be careful about what we eat after the holidays too.
The first thing to remember is that diving deep into the heavy meals and meats that are served during Easter right after a short period of fasting is truly a challenge for your digestive system. The solution is not to steer entirely away from the traditions, but to come up with a menu that will respect both the traditions and those family members too who are following a strict, medically-advised diet.
It is much easier to alter the holiday menu by changing some of the recipe details
or by toning down the serving of greasy ham cooked in salty water, the spicy horse-radish, the radish, the scone prepared with fine flour, and the eggs, then just give up the traditions in their entirety.
Breaking the fast
Although the fasting season is over, you can take this advice next year: try to cook spinach dishes for Holy Thursday next year, for example, soups, salads, puff pastry or pancakes with spinach fillings. It would be best not to eat meat on Good Friday just yet, so you should opt for eggs and fishes. On Holy Saturday, scones should be served during the day (however, children, the elderly, pregnant women and nursing mothers, the sick can be an exception to this), and in the evening, the dinner table should be weighed down with ham, eggs, lots of fresh vegetables. On Easter Sunday, the lamb is served, and then the main attraction comes on Easter Monday: ham, painted eggs, radish, cakes, and as it is the Hungarian custom, some wine or pálinka is served to the men who arrive for the Easter sprinkling.
Tips for taking care of your health
Those suffering from cardio-vascular illnesses usually put their diets on hold during the Easter holidays. Since these illnesses require people to take in only a moderate amount of sodium, the ham cooked in salty water throws their diet off its balance. However, the amount of salt needed for the cooking of the ham cannot be reduced below a certain level; one should try to cut off the visible greasy parts of the meat, such as the skin and the fats after the ham is cooked.
It is very important to reduce the intake of ham: if you have vascular problems, then you should resort to eating ham only once a day.
Even though there are a lot of left-over meats and ham after the Easter feastings, you should try not to keep a diet that involves too much ham in the days or weeks following the holidays. If you do not feel guilty about switching from pork to poultry, then for the sake of your health, cook poultry ham for Easter. It is also advised to be careful with other smoked or marinated meats, such as bacon, sausages or salamis.
Another good thing that you can do for your health is to consume lots of fresh vegetables with the ham, like radish, pepper, tomatoes, onions, lettuce. An extra measure to take is to bake the scone, the cakes and cookies with wholemeal flour and less sugar.
Since eggs are the symbols of the new life, it cannot be dismissed during Easter. Anyone can consume it except for those allergic to egg whites. However, the amount is important in this case as well, mostly as to keep the blood lipid levels at bay. A usual diet advises us to eat 3-6 eggs per week (more for those who are taller and work out more), which can be easily achieved during an Easter weekend. Reminder: you should keep in mind the number of eggs used when the particular meal was prepared, not just the hard-boiled, painted eggs you have eaten.
On the note of eggs, Travelo also mentions that it is not advised to consume raw eggs (even in the form of egg-nog). Cook or fry the eggs thoroughly to minimise the chances of salmonella. A raw egg can be stored for up to 3 weeks in the fridge, hard-boiled eggs maximum for one week.
Hard-boiled eggs can be stored without risks at room temperature for two hours.
If you have cholesterol-related problems, then it is best to be careful with animal fats and stick to the advised number of eggs.
Freshly grated horse-radish and radish are an essential part of Easter too, but in big amounts, they are the enemies of those suffering from reflux and bilious patients. If either of these applies to you, you should contact your medic before setting off to your grandparents for a hearty meal, or you should keep away from these vegetables altogether.
If you are visiting relatives or are going on a round of Easter sprinkling, where guests are welcomed with wine or pálinka, it is best not to set out on your journey with an empty stomach. You should also drink a glass of water each time you drink a glass of wine. As a host, a nice gesture would be to serve alcohol-free beverages for those suffering from liver or pancreas problems or for those who are simply driving.
Customs and traditions abroad
Although children always get a chocolate bunny during Easter, kids in Australia do not. The reason for this is that rabbits are not indigenous on the continent and they are actually considered to be vermin. Instead of chocolate bunnies, children are presented with chocolate in the shape of the long-eared bandicoot (or bilby).
Easter sprinkling is popular only in a handful of countries, but in Poland, a woman can expect to be sprinkled with a bucket of water even on the streets.
Italians bake the Colomba for Easter, a pigeon-shaped bread, that represents peace. They also cook a 25-30 days young lamb with rosemary, garlic, olives and shallots, served with artichokes and potatoes.
The lamb is important in Germany too, as you may find lamb-shaped cakes there. The classic menu involves ham, trotters, potato salad, hard-boiled eggs, beer, egg-nog and almond nog.
The British bake the Simnel cake decorated with 12 marzipan balls that refer to the twelve apostles. If you happen to get bored of the scone, Shrove Tuesday for them is also Pancake Tuesday. The story behind this tradition is that a woman got so caught up in making pancakes that she ran to the church to attend Mass with the pan in her hand.
In countries located on sea-side it is customary to replace the ham with local meats: for example, in Sweden salted ham is served with potatoes baked in cream and with onion.
In Greece, a delicious and spicy soup, the magirica, is prepared from the inmeats of the lamb, spring onion, lettuce, rice, eggs, and lemon. The main course is lamb- or goat roast.
featured image: MTI