Something about Easter just feels sort of… non-vegan. Let’s consider: a holiday where it’s traditional to paint chicken eggs and eat lamb just doesn’t seem very vegan friendly. But we say – adapt! Easter doesn’t have to be a skipped holiday. You can even enjoy a vegan Easter basket! We’ve got the fix for you right now!
First thing though – our own PSA – please, skip the live animals on Easter! Most of the baby chicks, ducklings and rabbits bought as Easter gifts aren’t wanted two days later. These animals aren’t even legal to keep as pets in many residential areas (chickens and ducks, that is!). So please, don’t even buy them! Now, the PSA is done. Or – wait – Let’s move on to that crappy plastic Easter grass. Don’t buy that either. You can use pretty fabric in an Easter basket or find recycled/recyclable paper shreds instead. Feeling crafty? Make your own paper shreds from junk mail!
Now, what to put in your loved ones’ Easter baskets… traditionally, it’s candy. Lots of candy. I remember the sugar load of Easter rivaling any Halloween when I was a kid. But most candy at the super market isn’t vegan! No worries. There is a lot on the market that IS and we have a list for you below.
Why not try your hand at making some Easter candy, though? Last spring we posted Healthier Peanut Butter Eggs and folks really liked them. But while you’re in the kitchen we have more easy Easter candy you can make. Little ones can help, too!
We’ve included some vegan margarine suggestions in the recipes below, but please know that not all margarine is vegan!
Many families enjoy these simple sweets for Easter. If you’re inspired, you can even make them in shapes like eggs or bunnies. We always ate them as squares, though. Something about that sticky, marshmallow goodness always reminds me of Easter!
Crisp Rice Treats
4 cups crisp rice cereal (we used One Degree Brown Rice Crisps)
1 tsp. vanilla
Spray an 8×8 casserole with non-stick spray (or grease with extra margarine) and set aside.
In a large pot over medium-low heat, melt the vegan margarine. Add the entire bag of marshmallows and stir constantly until melted and gooey. This takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Fold in the crisp rice cereal quickly.
Press into the prepared casserole dish and allow to cool about an hour before slicing. Makes 16 squares.
Want to make it festive for Easter? Just before pressing into the casserole stir in 1/2 cup vegan jellybeans. You have to move fast with these, otherwise, they will melt and the Crisp Rice Treats will have streaks of color instead of intact jellybeans.
Chocolate Easter “Nests”
This recipe holds a special place in my heart. As a kid I used to LOVE making these with my mom. I placed the jellybeans. She melted the chocolate and stirred in the coconut – and food coloring. I’ve changed the recipe a little, omitting food color and adding granola to make it more “nest-like.” But your little ones will enjoy helping shape the nests and putting the jellybean eggs into place, I’m sure. It’s great fun!
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (such as Swanson Organics, Let’s Do Organic or NOW Foods)
1/2 cup vegan granola, your favorite
30 to 36 vegan jelly beans (such as surf Sweets, SweetTarts or Starburst – all are gelatin-free!)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Over a double boiler on low heat, melt white chocolate chips. Stir often and do not allow water or steam to get into the melted chips. Once the chips are liquid, stir in coconut flakes and granola. Mix well to coat.
Place dollops of about 1 Tbl. to 1 1/2 Tbl of coconut mixture on the parchment in shapes of round nests. Top with two or three jellybeans each, nestled into the center. Makes 12 nests.
Allow to cool for two hours before eating. Will keep for a week in the fridge.
After all that homemade fun, if you still aren’t sure about making homemade vegan Easter candy, we have some suggestions.
Annie’s Chocolate Bunny Grahams – cute crackers shaped like bunnies!
Sweet & Sara’s – rice crisp treats and vegan peeps
Charm School Chocolate – vegan bars and bite size toffee candies
Surf Sweets – jelly beans and gummy candies
Cocomels – soft, luscious vegan caramels in several flavors
Sjaak’s – dark chocolate Easter bunnies and foil-wrapped eggs
Mama Ganache – dark chocolate bunnies and foil-wrapped leaves/flowers
Premium Chocolatiers – bunny pops, bars, coated chocolates and more
Go Max Go – knock off bars of candy bar classics
Or try the Vegan Candy section of the Natural Candy Store online – they have pages of options!
This list isn’t everything, to be sure. We found a lot of options though in our local natural markets and Whole Foods. Even the nearby grocer had vegan jellybeans (Starburst and Sweet Tart jellybeans are vegan!) and some dark chocolate bars. All you need to do is read labels, looking out for dairy and gelatin. Sometimes gelatin is also listed as beef collagen, too, on candy labels.
Want to fill in the basket with some non-candy items? I always loved getting seeds for the garden, bubbles or small toys as well as hair barrettes. Thing about what small items your loved one would use and enjoy – then make sure to get those ideas to the Easter Bunny in time!
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