Vegan Easter Basket
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).
Healthy School Lunches Made Easily
Packing lunches can be stressful enough- add a vegan diet (which is often comprised of pastas, soups, rice dishes, etc. that don't always pack well) AND so many schools going nut-free to protect children with allergies, and it can feel overwhelming.
I'm lucky in that my daughter (my only school-aged child) likes to have the same thing each day, she likes it to be familiar, so I have a quick and easy system, and of course a special gadget.
The Planetbox lunchbox is a great way to to keep lunch from getting smashed, eliminate plastic bags, cancel out the dreaded "where is my tupperware lid?" battle, and it's cute and durable. We've had the same box for 3 years. This year (the third year), we replaced the carrier bag, but the box is still going strong. You can check out all their offerings and extras at Planetbox.com, including replacement magnets and various organizational extras, but the best price I've found is on Amazon if you want to buy the set with bag.
In it, I make a Sunbutter and jelly sandwich almost every day. Sunbutter is a peanut butter alternative made with sunflower seeds, so it's allergen friendly and delicious. I've also used tahini in a pinch for a nut-free vegan sandwich. I got a cuteheart sandwich cutter that creates almost no waste (about the same as cutting off the crust) and she has loved that too. My daughter is not a fan of vegan lunchmeats or cheeses in her sandwiches (although I have rolled up tofurky slices as a side). On other rare non-sandwich days, I'll put in fresh edamame, leftover pancakes or pizza, veggie nuggets, or a quesadilla with vegan cheese.
Once the sandwich is made, I use fresh vegetables and fruits to fill out the box. I pre-peel her oranges because it's less messy and it it's easy. I try to include fresh berries, cherry tomatoes or grapes depending on what's in season and on sale. For veggies, my kids favor sweet bell pepper, snap/sugar peas, carrots, or I've even included fresh spinach and she liked that too.
For the "treat" spot in the center of this model of Planetbox, I find that a square ofRitter Sport Dark Chocolate with Marzipan fits perfectly, or a few Enjoy Life chocolate chips.
There are a few different styles of Planetbox lunchbox, but I've found the Rover just right for a kid's lunchbox.
Thelaunch is better, in my opinion, for older kids or adults who maybe pack less variety and need larger sections for bigger servings.
For more lunch ideas, follow me on Instagram where I post my daughter's lunch picture almost daily.
I hope these tips and ideas in the slideshow above inspire you and make your lunch packing a little less stressful- and maybe even fun! What kind of plant-based lunches do you pack for yourself and your family? Let me know in the comments!
Crinkle Cut ALL the Things!
I'm a big fan of Instagram, and I follow this cool vegan mom and macaron magician, Floral Frosting. She posts her children's lunches from time to time, and they often include fruit or veggies cut into cute crinkle cut fries. I decided I had to have one, and found this inexpensive, but well-reviewed one on Amazon. While I waited for my order, I noticed this meme all over my feed from several sources, so I'm not sure who to credit as the original maker, but it's hilarious and true!
I think my 4 year old is technically a "preschooler" rather than toddler now, but he is guilty of eating just a line around the middle of an apple and leaving so much behind (for me to eat, obviously, or the worms in the compost). But today my crinkle cutter came and it made apple fries cut crinkle cut! My son ate two apples in a row and exclaimed we should cut everything with my new cutter! I tried a carrot too, which after two apples he just nibbled at, but I enjoyed.
What a fun way to get more fruits and veggies into your kids, and to make you dishes more fun.
If you have one, or order one through this affiliate link, let me know how you use it.
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!
Order your copy here today!
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I love cooking and playing in the kitchen with my toys, so let me share that joy with you and your family to bring the FUN back into the kitchen!