Easter time always brings back fond memories of an easter egg hunt in the garden as soon as the sun was up, big family lunches and enough chocolate to last a year, except it never did! Having grown up in a largely countryside setting, we were always naturally exposed to an environmentally friendly lifestyle, living close to the Earth and eating healthy and wholesome foods. Organic was not a catchphrase back then and when, as a young adult, I moved to a city environment, I was truly surprised to find that not all foods are created (or manufactured) equal.
Now as I look after my own family’s well-being I am trying to create a lifestyle that is as wholesome as possible within the constraints of city living and with Easter just around the corner, I’ve tried to find a few simple ways to make this holiday more environmentally friendly and healthy, while still keeping the traditions and fun.
If you buy, buy organic.
Why organic? Organic foods contain no pesticides, hormones and heavy metal residues which could disrupt our endocrine systems. Organically reared livestock are not fed growth hormones and antibiotics, factory farming systems are forbidden and high standards of animal husbandry are maintained throughout the life of livestock.
Organic agriculture bans genetically modified (GM) foods and organic farming is sustainable, promoting self-reliance at farm level. Agricultural wastes are recycled and biodiversity is encouraged. No toxic, synthetic chemicals are sprayed on organic farms, resulting in these farms being home to many species of birds, plants, insects and other wildlife.
When buying organic produce examine the label. It should say, ‘certified by xxxx’ where xxxx is the name of the certifying body. A list of Certifying Bodies in South Africa can be found on: http://www.organicsouthafrica.co.za.
Community spirit and the art of recycling.
In modern society we have unfortunately become used to having everything available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When growing up on the farm, we did our shopping once a month and always brought back various items for neighbours who had not ‘gone to town’. If we had forgotten an item or two, well, we just did without it, borrowed from a neighbour or traded something we had, which they had forgotten off their shopping list. Groceries were brought home in crates which were kept for that purpose and bottles were kept for preserves or taken to the bottle bank on the town trips.
So how do we bring that community spirit and minimal waste production into our city living?
Plan your Easter weekend supplies shopping ahead of time and arrange with a friend to join you in one car to save on unnecessary carbon emissions and petrol consumption. Take back packs, sports bags and crates to carry the shopping in and make use of the re-usable bags now sold at many leading retailers. Buy your eggs and dairy from a local market or box scheme, they are always willing to re-use egg cartons and milk bottles.
Buy fruit and vegetables fresh from a box-scheme or market, this saves on all the packaging used in supermarkets and produce is usually local, organic and in season.
Local really is ‘lekker’ and supporting farmers in your province builds the micro-economy and cuts down on transport and refrigeration of produce.
Easter, like Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together and share in the spirit of the holiday. Unfortunately both these holidays have become very commercialised and it is a challenge to find gifts which are thoughtful, personal and not mass produced.
This is where you bring in the kids, papier mache eggs are a great way to recycle old newspapers and computer paper and can be used as containers for Easter treats and pressies. Wrapping paper from Christmas can be cut into strips to form ‘grass’ for these nests and it can be great fun making these eggs with your children, making them feel part of all the preparation. You can find easy to follow instructions on: http://www.dltk-holidays.com/easter/mpaper_mache_egg.htm.
The Easter morning treasure hunt need not consist only of chocolate eggs and bunnies, try hiding crayons and other inexpensive craft supplies, in this way providing children with something to occupy them when the adults are recovering from lunch!
Involve the kids in dyeing eggs for the Easter table, it is easy to get some amazing colours from natural foods. Boil eggs in water containing one of the following foodstuffs and a little vinegar, let simmer for a minimum of 15 minutes and leave to cool.
Spinach – for green coloured eggs.
Beets – for pink eggs.
Red cabbage – for blue eggs.
Purple grape juice – for lavender eggs.
Red onion skins – for red eggs.
There are of course some things which Easter would just not be Easter without and I have tried to find some local organic suppliers.
Hot cross buns.
These toasty treats seem to be a little hard to find in organic form, however the Neighbourgoods Market in Woodstock has organic baked goods and would probably be your best bet. If you are inclined to bake your own, Josephine Mill in Newlands produces amazing stone ground flour and Martins bakery in Diep River, although it does not stock organic products, does stock a wide variety of wheat-, sugar- and preservative free baked goods.
‘Food of the gods’ indeed, organic chocolate is made from cocoa which is farmed in a manner which is environmentally sound and helps to maintain bio-diversity in the tropical forests as well as protecting the winter habitat of migratory songbirds. Having spent some time in the UK I am a die-hard Green and Blacks fan, find their products in Pick & Pay, Spar and various delis countrywide. Woolworths stocks own brand organic chocolate and for more specialised treats you can contact Chocolaterie Robert or Von Gesau.
Easter bouquets are a long standing tradition but unfortunately it is very hard to find mainstream florists which stock organic flowers. I have found it better to make bouquets from my own garden or alternatively to support the flower stands on the organic market on Saturdays. Don’t be shy to ask questions on how to care for your flowers, the growers and sellers are happy to share information.
Another Easter tradition, you can find these candles in most churches, in that way also supporting the local parish. If you have the time, making your own candles is a fun activity which can be extended to other times of the year when you are at a loose end for what to make as home-made presents.
Above all, Easter is a time of family, friends and the spirit of renewal and togetherness so whichever way you choose to celebrate this year may it be a weekend which is hassle-free, fun and filled with laughter and joy!
HEALTHY EASTER CHOCOLATES
200g Cacao butter
1/2 cup Coconut oil
1/2 cup Agave to taste
150g Cacao powder
1 tsp Vanilla powder
Melt the cacao butter in a double boiler(or over a pot of water at low temperature).
Add the melted liquid to your Ice Tank or Vitamix.
Add the melted Coconut oil, Agave and blend.
Slowly add the Cacao powder & vanilla and blend on low speed until everything is mixed through.
All ingredients can be mixed through by hand if you do not have a power blender.
Pour into ice trays and allow to set in the fridge.
Raw Chocolate Cake
For the base
5 cups pecan nuts
3 cups coconut flakes
½ cup agave nectar
1 Tbs vanilla seeds
¼ tsp salt
For the topping
4 cups chopped dates (soaked in warm water)
1 ½ cup coconut oil
1 cup cacao powder
1 Tbs vanilla seeds
½ cup organic coconut milk
1 tsp salt
10x cacao beans
10x pecan nuts
For the base:
In a food processor with “S” blade, process the coconut flakes until fine. Add the pecans, agave, vanilla and salt. Process all ingredients together until a sticky, crumble-like base is formed. You may need to stop and scrape down the sides.
Press into a springform cake tin or quiche tin with removable base
For the topping:
Blend the dates with a little of the soak water in a Food Processor or Power Blender.
Add the coconut oil, cacao powder, vanilla, coconut milk and salt. Blend on slow speed until all ingredients are blended through. Transfer into the cake/quiche tin and spread evenly.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Decorate with extra pecans and cacao beans.
Recipes supplied by: Beryn and Peter Daniel
Raw Food Chefs
Soaring Free Superfoods
Tel: 021 7947793
Rondebosch Organic Market – Saturday mornings 7:30 am till noon, outside Rondebosch library in St. Andrews Road.
Neighbourgoods Market – Saturdays 9am till 14h00, The Old Biscuit Mill, 373-375 Albert Road, Woodstock.
Bakeries and shops:
Josephine Mill – 13 Boundary Road, Newlands, 021 686 4939
Martins Bakery – 43 Main Road, Diep River, 021 712 8555
Creeds Health Shop, Steenberg Village, 021 702 0036