10 Less-sugary treats to enjoy this Easter

April 10, 2017 Providence Health Team

Each year, family and friends gather around the table in joyful communion and celebration of Easter. Many traditions around this vibrant holiday revolve around sugar: Plastic eggs are filled with candies, milk chocolate is shaped into bunnies, and pastel-colored sweets fill up baskets and spread out on dining tables.

The meals and desserts consumed on Easter are what make this holiday so sweet. Yet, in a nation consuming too much sweetened food and desperately needing to cut back, Easter Sunday is, for too many Americans, another day in which they far exceed the recommended daily intake of sugar.

The American Heart Association urges adult women to consume no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of sugar per day and men to limit their sugar intake to 36 grams (9 teaspoons). A little sugar can be an important source of energy for children, but most are getting far too much. The USDA recommends children under 9 years old consume no more than 3 to 4 teaspoons (12 to 16 grams) of sugar per day and that pre-teens and teens limit their daily intake to 5 to 8 teaspoons (20 to 32 grams). In reality, the average American preschooler gets 12 teaspoons a day while 4- to 8-year-olds take in 21 teaspoons. These numbers certainly spike on holidays, such as Easter.

The more sugar we consume, the more our bodies crave it. Sugar consumption increases leptin (which makes us feel hungry) and dopamine (which makes us feel happy). Sugar also increases a series of unhealthy responses, such as spikes in insulin levels, and it increases our risk of diabetes, heart problems and unhealthy weight gain.

Despite the harmful effects sugar has on our bodies, the holidays are a time to indulge a bit and “treat yourself.” Instead of avoiding sugar altogether, limit your intake and replace store-bought treats with better alternatives, such as the 10 healthier treats listed below. These recipes contain less sugar than store-bought candies, chocolates and baked goods, or they use natural sweeteners. The results are healthier, sweet-tooth-satisfying substitutes for beloved desserts. All the more reason to celebrate this Easter season!

 1) Carrot Cake Cheese Ball

Shape the ingredients into the form of a carrot. Garnish with pecans, coconut flakes and carrot greens for a delicious, fun, carrot-themed cheeseball. Serve with fruit slices or wafer cookies for dipping.

Yield: 12 servings (2 tablespoons each)


  • 8 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchâtel), softened
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shredded carrot plus ¼ cup, divided
  • ½ cup diced pineapple
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted pecans
  • ¼ cup toasted unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Carrot greens for garnish

For nutritional analysis and full instructions, see here.

 2) No Bake Chocolate Coconut Butter Bunnies

Without added sugar, dairy or gluten, these no-bake chocolate coconut butter bunnies are the perfect treat to try this Easter. Simply mix together coconut oil, coconut butter, cocoa powder, vanilla and stevia. Pour into silicone bunny molds and freeze.

Yield: 12 bunnies


  • ¾ cup softened coconut butter
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla liquid stevia

For full instructions, see here.

 3) No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Nests

To make the nests, drop tablespoons of batter onto a lined baking sheet. Shape into nests. Refrigerate and top with candy eggs. These no-bake nests are gluten-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free, vegan and easy to make.

Yield: 12-14 cookies


  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey, or maple syrup for vegan
  • ¼ cup coconut oil measured in a solid state
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • ¼ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut

For full instructions, see here.

 4) Healthy Easter Egg Breakfast Popsicles

This recipe gives you the freedom to choose your own type of yogurt, granola, fruit and quantities of each, allowing it to be sugar-, nut-, dairy- and gluten-free. Simply combine all ingredients together, place into a silicone mold, add a lollipop stick and freeze for two hours or more.


  • 500g (2 cups) yogurt
  • A handful of granola
  • A handful of blueberries
  • A handful of raspberries

For full instructions, see here.

 5) Healthy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Eggs

Use plastic Easter eggs to form these all-natural, vegan treats.


  • 2 ½ cups rolled oats
  • 3 tablespoons pb2 (or any powdered peanut butter)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 5 tablespoons. almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • ¼ cup mini chocolate chips (optional)
  • Sprinkles for decoration
  • Plastic eggs

For full instructions, see here.

 6) Paleo Easter Eggs

This recipe gives you the option of using the sweetener of your choice to keep this dessert low-sugar and highly satisfying. Create a coconut base. Refrigerate it, roll into egg shapes, refrigerate again, coat the eggs in chocolate, and refrigerate again.

Yield: 12 eggs


Paleo Easter Eggs

  • 75g / 2.6oz desiccated/shredded coconut unsweetened
  • 70g / 2.5oz coconut oil, melted
  • 3 tablespoons coconut cream
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sweetener of choice
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate Coating:

  • 60g / 2.1oz coconut oil, melted
  • 6 teaspoons cocoa powder unsweetened
  • 2 teaspoons powdered sweetener

For full instructions, see here.

 7) Paleo Chocolate Crème Egg Recipe

Make the egg filling by surrounding the dough yolks with white dough and forming them into egg shapes. Then dip them in dark chocolate, refrigerate and enjoy!

Yield: 25 eggs


  • 1½ cup coconut butter
  • ⅓ cup cashew butter
  • Scant ⅔ cup raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon orange blossom water (optional)
  • 2 packets natural yellow food coloring
  • 10 ounces dark chocolate

For full instructions, see here.

 8) Sugar Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Easter Eggs (Dairy Free)

Make the peanut butter centers of these Easter eggs and then press them into egg molds half-filled with chocolate to create the outer layer.



  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) all natural, no sugar added peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon chocolate liquid

Chocolate coating:

  • ¾ cup (3.6 ounces) sugar free chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

For full instructions, see here.

 9) Delicious Sweetener Free, Sugar Free, Grain Free, Gluten Free Carrot Cake

Indulge in this classic Easter carrot cake without any sugars, grains or sweeteners. Bake the cake using an almond meal base, and coat with sugar-free coconut frosting. Serve and enjoy!

Yield: 6 servings


For the cake:

  • 1 cup almond meal
  • ¾ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup butter melted
  • ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 2 carrots peeled and grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

For the frosting:

  • 1½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup butter cubed
  • 1 lemon juice and rind
  • 1 teaspoon 100% vanilla extract

For full instructions, see here.

10) Easter Almond Baby Chicks

Cover almonds with white chocolate. Use chia seeds and food coloring to make baby chick faces on the almonds. Serve up these cute little snacks to friends and family for a healthy treat.

Yield: 24 chicks


  • 24 almonds
  • ⅓ cup nondairy white chocolate, melted
  • 2 drops red and 5 drops yellow natural food coloring
  • 48 chia seeds

For full instructions, see here.

About the Author

The Providence Health Team brings together caregivers from diverse backgrounds to bring you clinically-sound, data-driven advice to help you live your happiest and healthiest selves.

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