Traditional Easter Foods on the Lighter Side

— Written By

Probably the first food you think of when it comes to Easter are colored eggs, then of course right behind that will be deviled eggs. But truly there are many traditions associated with Easter foods.

Hot Cross Buns are an Easter favorite in many areas. The tradition allegedly is derived from ancient Anglo-Saxons who baked small wheat cakes in honor of the springtime goddess, Eostre. After converting to Christianity, the church substituted the small wheat cakes with sweetbreads and often in today’s society layer and sheet cakes. In many societies pretzels are prepared and served, they were first shaped to indicate the torso of a person with arms folded, praying.

The roast lamb dinner that many eat on Easter Sunday goes back earlier than Easter to the first Passover of the Jewish people. In the United States, especially in the South, ham is a traditional Easter food. In the early days, meat was slaughtered in the fall. There was no refrigeration, and the fresh pork that wasn’t consumed during the winter months before Lent was cured for spring. The curing process took a long time, and the first hams were ready around the time Easter rolled around. Therefore, ham was a natural choice for the celebratory Easter dinner.

Deviled Eggs with Pickled Onions


  • 8 large eggs
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha (hot chili sauce) or hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives


  1. Add water to a large saucepan to a depth of 1 inch; set a large vegetable steamer in pan. Add eggs to steamer. Bring water to a boil over medium-high heat. Steam eggs, covered, 16 minutes. Remove from heat. Place eggs in a large ice waterfilled bowl for 3 minutes.
  2. While eggs steam, combine ¼ cup water, vinegar, and sugar in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until boiling. Stir in onion. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes. Drain.
  3. Combine yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, Sriracha, pepper, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well to combine.
  4. Peel eggs; discard shells. Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Add 6 yolks to yogurt mixture; reserve remaining yolks for another use. Mash with a fork until very smooth. Stir in 2 tablespoons red onion. Spoon mixture into egg white halves (about 1 tablespoon in each half). Garnish egg halves with remaining red onion and chives.

Serves 8. Each serving contains  Calories 76, Fat 4.8g, Protein 6g, Carbohydrate 1.6g, Fiber 0.1g, Cholesterol 140mg, Sodium 157mg,

Pickle and Jalapeño Deviled Eggs


  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 3 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1½ tablespoons minced gherkins
  • 1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeño
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 24 thinly sliced gherkin pieces


  1. Steam eggs in a vegetable steamer 16 minutes; cool slightly, and peel. Slice eggs in half lengthwise, and remove yolks; mash yolks.
  2. Stir mayonnaise, yogurt, minced gherkins, jalapeño, vinegar, salt, and pepper into yolks. Divide among whites; top each egg with 2 thinly sliced gherkin pieces.

Serves 12. Each serving contains  Calories 87, Fat 5.8g, Sodium 166mg

Carrot Cake

Carrots give carrot cake a health a very deceiving image, while containing the very healthy vegetable carrots; it is usually very high in fat and calories. This version has about 40 percent less calories and 50 percent less fat than most. The recipe uses less oil in the batter, skips the butter in the frosting and to keep the cake moist adds nonfat buttermilk and crushed pineapple.



  • 1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple
  • 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, (see Ingredient Note)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  •  ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated carrots, (4-6 medium)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted


  • 12 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchâtel), softened
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons coconut chips, or flaked coconut, toasted


  1. To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Drain pineapple in a sieve set over a bowl, pressing on the solids. Reserve the drained pineapple and ¼ cup of the juice.
  2. Whisk flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and the ¼ cup pineapple juice in a large bowl until blended. Stir in pineapple, carrots and ¼ cup coconut. Add the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until blended. Stir in the nuts. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.
  3. Bake the cake until the top springs back when touched lightly and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.
  4. To prepare frosting and finish cake: Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Spread the frosting over the cooled cake. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Serves 16. Each serving contains 342 calories, Fat 17 g, Cholesterol 56 mg, Carbohydrates 43 g, Protein 6 g, Fiber 3 g, Sodium 349 g, Potassium 150 mg.

Honey Baked Spiral Ham


  • 8-9 lbs. (fully cooked) spiral bone-in ham


  • ⅓ cup pineapple juice
  • ½ orange, juice of
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 275°. Place ham in a roasting pan, cut side down. Cover tightly with foil or place in a baking bag. Bake ham in oven at 275° 12-15 minutes per pound, depending on the size of your ham. (Approximately 2 hours)
  2. In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, honey, orange juice, pineapple juice and Dijon. Whisk well and simmer on low 8-10 minutes, stirring often until it reduces down and thickens into a glaze.
  3. Remove ham from oven 15 minutes before the ham is ready and brush the glaze onto the ham. Finish cooking the ham for the last 15 minutes uncovered.

Serves 12. Each serving contains Calories 170, Fat 7g, Protein 16 g, Carbohydrates 13 g

Fresh Coconut Cake

I am not a baker but my friends that are say this is a fabulous recipe for a very fresh tasting coconut cake. This recipe also offers balanced flavor and nutrition—two things you can feel good about when serving a slice to your lucky guests.


  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon cake flour
  • 12 ounces sifted cake flour (about 3 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cups sugar, divided
  • ⅔ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup warm coconut water (from 1 small brown coconut)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 large egg whites


  • 4 large egg whites
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups shaved fresh coconut, toasted


  1. To prepare cake reheat oven to 350° F. Lightly coat 3 (9-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; line bottom of pans with wax paper. Lightly coat wax paper with cooking spray; dust pans with 1 tablespoon flour.Combine 12 ounces (about 3 cups) flour, baking powder, and salt; stir with a whisk. Place 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed for 2½ minutes or until well blended. Add flour mixture and coconut water alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla. In a separate bowl, beat 6 egg whites on high speed until foamy using clean, dry beaters. Add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form (do not overbeat).Carefully fold egg whites into batter; pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks; remove from pans. Discard wax paper. Cool completely on wire racks.
  2. To prepare frosting, combine 4 egg whites, cream of tartar, and ⅛ teaspoon salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.Combine remaining 1¼cups sugar and ¼ cup water in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until candy thermometer registers 250°. With mixer on low speed, pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites. Gradually increase speed to high; beat 8 minutes or until thick and cool. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  3. Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate, and spread with 1 cup frosting. Top with another cake layer. Repeat procedure with 1 cup frosting and remaining cake layer, ending with cake layer on top. Spread remaining frosting over top and sides of cake. Gently press shaved coconut onto top and sides of cake. Store cake loosely covered in refrigerator.

Serves 16. Each serving contains Calories 332, Fat 10g, Protein 4.3g, Carbohydrate 55g, Fiber 1g, Cholesterol 20mg, Sodium 207mg