Arcadia Farms

  (Portage, Michigan)
Eat healthier. Save money. Create local jobs.
[ Member listing ]

Celebrate Easter Without Sugar

Sunbeams Backlighting Cross

Easter is coming! On Sunday March 31 our family will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. While the Easter Bunny doesn’t make an appearance during our celebration (we prefer to shoot any giant rodents found sneaking into the house) we do incorporate things like Easter baskets, dyed eggs and getting all dressed up to have breakfast with our friends and family at church. Since we’re focused on avoiding processed food and artificial dyes, I spent some time looking for more natural ways to fill Owen’s basket this year. Here are some celebration ideas your family can use as well.

{P.S. I hope to make Owen’s basket as local as possible. If I have time, I’ll post pictures and sources for Owen’s local-centric Easter basket before the big day!}

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs

Artificial dye is poison. Did you know that some artificial dyes are banned from inclusion in our cosmetics and medicines, yet food manufacturers are permitted to include them in our food? Many of these same substances are banned in other countries. Why? Because they have been linked to health issues like cancer and hyperactivity in children. For more info on the hazards of artificial dyes (and ideas for natural food dyes) click here. For more on how to dye your Easter eggs naturally, check out the video below.


Cake (Pancake?) Filled Eggs

Another fun surprise you could put together would be baking cupcakes inside real egg shells. I love this idea! Owen and I enjoyed doing this project together. We tried a little variation – first we dyed the eggs, then we baked the cupcakes inside them. We learned that natural dyes don’t withstand the heat of baking quite as beautifully as artificial ones. (That’s why this post doesn’t feature any of our ultimately brownish-greenish cupcake eggs!) I’m going to try filling some eggs with pancakes to eat on Easter morning… we’ll see how that turns out.

We also tried a slight variation of the recipe included in the tutorial you see below. Here’s our own twist on the recipe created by the Cupcake Project.

What you’ll need:

  • 9 large eggs (Only one will get used in the cake.  The rest are just used for the shells.)
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1/3 C real maple syrup
  • 1/4 C unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp homemade vanilla extract
  • 1/4 C vanilla or plain yogurt

We mixed the dry and wet ingredients separately and then mixed them together with an electric mixer. Also, if you have trouble getting the egg to come out of the shell, try poking a teeny-tiny hole at the other end and blowing it out (Owen loved this… despite thinking it was disgusting). Also, my skills with a piping bag are about as great as Kanye West’s public speaking abilities, so I opted to use a medicine syringe (the kind you use for giving a toddler pain medicine) instead – worked beautifully!

Easter Cupcakes 11

{Photo Credit}

Non-Candy Easter Basket Prizes

A chocolate bunny and jelly beans are usually staple candies in an Easter basket. Here are some basket ideas that will make your kids “hoppy” without the sugar buzz-and-crash routine following typical sweets.

Sidewalk Chalk

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest


Homemade Bubbles

Sealed container + cute label + bubble wand (check the party store) = tons of fun for little ones! What if it’s cold outside? Are you kidding – have you ever experienced the fun of frozen bubbles? Regardless of what the weather’s doing, this one is a total win!


All-Natural, Chocolate-Covered Sunflower Seeds

As yummy as they are colorful!

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest


Homemade Treats

What kid wouldn’t like to get a stack of cookies as a gift? Try our own minimally processed (no processed sugar) cookies or perhaps some homemade granola.


Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest



Some plants are super easy to grow. Owen has his own garden (4 x 8 raised bed) and loves sharing cucumbers with his friends during the summer. Give your little one some cucumber, watermelon or sunflower seeds and initiate them into the wonder of spring.


Dinosaur Egg Cucumbers… What kid wouldn’t want to go dinosaur egg hunting in his own backyard??



Stuffed Animals

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest


Turn your child’s drawing (no matter how wild!) into a stuffed animal. So cool!


Jump Rope

This jump rope (found on is personalized.

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest


Sports Balls

Warmer weather is coming, so give your little one something to play with outdoors. A frisbee or a kites are great too!

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest



Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest



These crayons are all natural. You can find more natural crayons on in many shapes, sizes and colors.

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest


Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest


Craft Supplies

Source: via Arcadia on Pinterest


All Natural Candy

Ok. It’s candy, I know. But if you absolutely can’t manage to go without giving your child sweets for Easter, why not buy allergy-sensitive, all-natural treats? Here’s a source.


Resurrection Cookies

We’ve never made resurrection cookies before, but it’s a tradition I’ve heard about from family and friends. The recipe and baking process are used as an illustration for the story of Jesus sacrifice and resurrection. Pretty straight-forward, family-friendly stuff. We may give it a whirl this year to see if there’s a way to make it with less (or no!) sugar. For a pictures and instructions, click on the image below.

{Photo Credit}

{Photo Credit}

Did you enjoy this article? Visit for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally. 


Minimally Process Cookies

cookies on plate

Earlier this month I shared this post about how to make natural, homemade vanilla extract. I had no idea it would be such a hit! After posting it, one reader emailed me with the following question:

“I have a question for you in regard to a comment you made about getting rid of all your artificial stuff. I was wondering the cookie recipe you used and if you would share it? My desire is to get rid of the artificial and harmful and make as much as possible from scratch. Thanks for the help.”

First of all, I was pretty excited to get this email because it was my first reader-I’ve-never-met-responding-to-a-blog-post email I’ve ever received. Second, I’m afraid I had to respond and let this dear lady know that the cookies I referenced in my vanilla post were… in fact… deliciously filled with processed food. I did get rid of all of my artificial “baking stuff” but the way I got rid of my white chocolate chips was by making (delicious) cookies with them. The cookies I made that day tasted unbelievably amazing! Besides highly processed white candy chips, they also contained processed white flour and processed sugar (both white and brown sugar). Here’s the original recipe:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

(These are NOT minimally processed – keep reading for the minimally processed recipe)

2 ¼ Cups Flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter

¾ cup sugar

¾ cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon water

2 eggs

12 ounces chocolate chips


  1. Combine sugars and margarine with handmixer
  2. Add vanilla and water then beat until creamy
  3. Beat in eggs
  4. Add flour mixture (all dry ingredients)
  5. Stir in chocolate chips
  6. Bake at 375* for 10-12 minutes

Make Them Healthier

Despite the fact that the original recipe tastes amazing, this reader’s question sparked a desire in me to develop a less-processed recipe. To make the cookies healthier, I thought I would:

  • Substitute natural/organic whole wheat flour for white, processed flour
  • Use organic butter (I did this originally)
  • Use farm-fresh eggs (I did this originally)
  • Use natural/organic, minimally processed chocolate chips
  • Find a substitute sweetener to replaced the processed sugar

Possible contenders for sugar substitutes included:

  • Stevia
  • Honey
  • Pure maple sugar
  • Pure maple syrup

I decided not to use stevia because I frankly don’t care for the aftertaste it leaves. I don’t have any maple sugar and it’s a wee bit expensive, so I skipped on that one too. Because I have a plethora of both honey and pure (made by my father-in-law) maple syrup at home, I decided to use these as substitutes for the white and brown sugars, respectively. But then riiiight before I mixed the cookie dough I remembered that I’m also not a huge fan of the aftertaste honey sometimes leaves when baked so I decided to go all in with the maple syrup.

When I was planning to use honey I did some research on baking with honey and found the following common tips:

  • Substitute 2/3 cup of honey for each cup of sugar in the recipe
  • Reduce the amount of liquid (i.e. milk) by ¼ cup for each cup of honey used
  • Add ½ teaspoon baking soda to the recipe for every cup of honey used
  • Bake at about 25 degrees lower than called for to prevent over-browning

Maple syrup is obviously different than honey, but I decided to follow these guidelines all the same. They seem to have paid off, although you may be able to get away with just 1 teaspoon of baking soda. (Git it a try and let me know what you think.) With all that in mind, I put together the following recipe. Is it good? Yes!! Is it as delicious as the first recipe? Not so much. But if you’d like something sweet and are eager to eat minimally processed foods, they will be very satisfying. The sweetness of the cookies is very subtle while still readily satisfying that sweet-tooth desire for something sugary.

I used Semi-sweet Chocolate Mega Chunks from Enjoy Life Foods and I purchased them at Sawall Health Foods for $5.19 (10 ounces). They are dairy, nut and soy free, are certified gluten free and are also vegan. The mega chunks of chocolate contain no artificial colors, preservatives or additives. (And they’re delicious!)

Minimally Processed Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ¼ organic whole wheat flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup organic butter, slightly softened

1 ¼ cups real maple syrup

1 teaspoon homemade vanilla extract

2 natural, homegrown eggs

10 oz natural or organic chocolate chips


  1. Use a hand mixer to cream the butter
  2. Mix maple syrup, vanilla and eggs together on low speed
  3. Add liquids to butter and mix for about 1 minute on medium speed (be careful!) or until well blended
  4. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt
  5. Add dry ingredients to liquid and mix (with hand mixer) until smooth
  6. Stir in chocolate chips
  7. Spoon cookies onto un-greased baking sheet and bake at 350* for 10-13 minutes

Did you enjoy this article? Visit for more info on eating healthy, saving money and buying locally. 

RSS feed for Arcadia Farms blog. Right-click, copy link and paste into your newsfeed reader