When I was a kid, I loved Easter. We were not religious and didn't really play up a magical bunny, but it was fun to have a special celebration in Spring. I would join my friend's family and we would go out to Folsom Lake and picnic, fly kites, and swim if the water wasn't too cold. It was the best.
I was never much for an Easter ham, but I do like to make Deviled Potatoes in place of deviled eggs this time of year, and we eat things that are fresh and light like fruit and fresh salad, or a cold pasta salad as the weather gets warmer and warmer.
I got some great craft eggs to decorate this year, that the kids decoupage and colored with markers, and in the past we've painted wooden eggs (that have since gone missing, but are ideally reused each year). We also, of course, use typical plastic eggs filled with candies, stickers, temporary tattoos, and small toys. Eggs are a symbol of new life and as gardeners and nature-lovers, this symbol doesn't need to be tied up with animal exploitation.
In the Basket
This year's basket is so fun, so I decided to share what I've done with it, rather than a whole, "You could do all these things" I'm just focusing on what I did. I hope this gives you some ideas!
My kids go through shoes faster than they go through candy, so this was my first order of business. To make sure they don't have leather, look for ALL MAN MADE MATERIALS on the label. I found these Eddie Bauer candles inexpensively priced and perfect for Spring fun (and heat).
My kids 5 and 7, and they have been asking about evolution a lot lately, so I found this beautiful book calledOur Family Tree that has gorgeous pictures and makes the information accessible to younger kids. It fits in perfectly with the way we celebrate Easter as a time for new life and growth. Obviously, some people are celebrating Easter as a faith-based holiday, or may be including books about Passover in their Easter baskets- this is just what we've got going on. If you don't already have it, Ruby Roth's Help Yourself kids cookbook would be adorable in an Easter basket!
I love getting melt and pour soap and hiding little toys in them, so for Easter I used a silicone egg mold and made dinosaur eggs (again, we like dinos in this house). You simply heat up the soap (must be melt and pour soap) in a pan until is liquid and pour into molds. You can add things like oatmeal or citrus peels, but I decided to go unscented this time. These are a great motivator for kids who aren't so keen on washing their hands or bath time, because the more you use it, the closer you get to the toy inside!
I try not to go overboard on the sweets, but for in plastic eggs I like the Surf Sweet Jelly Beans. I also found some of the new Amy's vegan candy bars. The Dreamy Bar is my favorite that I've tried. Dreamy. Just be careful as not all of them are vegan, but the vegan ones are clearly labeled VEGAN on the front (right now I think it's just the Sunny and the Dreamy that are vegan).
The kids also each got their new FAVORITE THING EVER, the Lenny and Larry Birthday Cake Cookie. I seriously did end up ordering a case on Amazon simply because they are so loved in our household (for us, this was a good deal, but I'm told they are only $1 a piece at Sprouts, so if you have one near you, check that out first). It's perfect for birthday parties too, when you don't want to make one cupcake to take. The taste is amazing, and with 16 grams of protein, it fills them up (no room to gorge on candy, oh well).
I threw in some Annie's Bernie's Farm cookies too, and I may grab a box of Annie's bunny snacks before Easter to add to this too. Fun bunny stuff that's also vegan is an easy add.
DIY Chocolate Eggs
These were so easy and to be honest I'm going to have to make more because the kids already ate my first batch. I used a small silicone egg mold (otherwise it's just too much chocolate), Dandies Mini Marshmallows, and Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips. So easy.
I put about half the bag of chocolate chips into a ziplock and set it in a bowl of boiling hot water until the chips melt. This method is awesome because you don't have to add anything or worry about burning your chocolate, and the ziplock makes for easy piping into the mold. I put some chocolate in each mold, then add two mini marshmallows and fill the rest of the way, making sure to cover the marshmallow. Chill until hardened and they are good to go (but best kept refrigerated until time to enjoy them).
The other day, I was at the grocery store reading labels on hummus when my daughter asked, "What are those funny looking cupcakes?" Cupcakes? By the hummus? I looked to where she was pointing, and it was deviled eggs. They ARE kind of cupcake looking, and they are a classic favorite of springtime- from Easter picnics to family brunches. So, what do I do? I make them vegan, of course!
I don't eat eggs anymore, though, and I DO eat another round and delicious food- potatoes! As if potatoes weren't already the greatest thing ever, deviling them makes them pretty, delicious, and gives you a healthy analogue for an animal product.
Classic Deviled Potatoes
12 (or more in case you have some mishaps, I always make extra) baby potatoes
1/3 cup Moong Dal (link below to buy online, also found in Indian markets)
2 generous Tbs vegan mayonnaise (my favorite is Vegenaise, or make your own)
pinch Kala Namak (link below to order online, also found in Indian markets)
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1-2 Tbsp sweet pickle relish and paprika
Begin by cooking your potatoes and lentils. For the potatoes, I use my mother-in-law's trick for making boiled eggs; I cover them by at least a 1/2 inch water, add some salt, and bring to a boil. Once they are boiling, put the lid on and turn off the stove.
You are going to leave them like that for about 15-20 minutes, until they are easy to handle, so now you can make your dal. I thought I would get creative and try to make mine in the rice cooker, and it took three tries... I don't recommend it. Instead, make them on the stovetop by adding dal and about 1 cup water and bring to low boil, turning heat down once they are going. Cook until the lentils are soft. You should have about 2/3 of a cup of cooked lentils.
You want them not too soupy, so if they there is still a lot of water, drain them carefully.
Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half and scoop out the centers. They are delicate and you may break some. I find that a small melon baller gives me the best chances, and I didn't break any this time, but I usually do, and that's why I always make more potatoes than I plan to stuff. I can always find uses for pre-boiled potatoes in my house if I have extras. Put the scooped out centers into a bowl or the food processor. I wanted a creamy texture, so I used the food processor. Sometimes I like them lumpy, because I'm weird, so I smash them with a spoon. This is your kitchen and your rules- so do it your way.
After they are all scooped, do not skip this step: lightly salt your shells! Sometimes I tell myself that the filling is so flavorful that this is a useless step, and I always regret it. Just do it.
Now add your cooked dal, vegan mayo, kala namak, mustard, and salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Kind of looks like hummus, huh? The kala namak is sort of optional. It gives your filling a sulfer-y/eggy taste, so if you don't really like the taste of eggs, leave it out. It's kind of hard to find if you don't have an Indian grocery store nearby, but so are the moong daal. I live in Southern Louisiana, so I order both items online and it's easy. I'll post links below so you can buy them online
Now you have a yummy creamy filling that awaits your personal flair. Today, I wanted classic. I wanted it to taste like my great grandma's kitchen, so I added sweet relish. Some days, I add lots of paprika and dill and lemon zest. Sometimes I add cumin, lime juice, and jalapeños diced up. I've even added wasabi and chopped up ginger so it tastes like sushi. Go crazy. Whatever you want. If you add something chunky, like the relish I added, it's going to be hard to pipe out pretty ones like these... Which is why the bag I was using to pipe these got a clog in my pastry tip and exploded. The ones in the back are just using the bag with no tip and they are still pretty... That's fine. Just don't you a small pastry tip if you have chunks. And, in the interest of transparency, I didn't use a pastry bag, I put a pastry tip in a gallon ziplock. It all works out in the end.
They sure are cute when you use the pastry bag, though.
Let me know what flavors you try with yours in the comments!
You can even put them in a little cupcake liner to make your own "funny looking cupcakes."
I wrote a children's book, How Our Vegan Family Celebrates, to help vegans and vegan allies know how to include vegans in their celebrations and give affirmation to vegan kids who may feel alone. The book goes through holidays throughout the year and has a section at the back with parent tips!
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