Updated March 21, 2023
Why is it that the holiest festivals of Christianity have become culture-wide sugar-fests? I know for a fact that millions of people who never darken a church doorstep from year’s end to year’s end still pig out on Christmas cookies and candy canes. I’m betting that a whole lot of those folks are also snarfing down chocolate eggs, creme-filled eggs, jelly beans, and Peeps. Look! It’s a Church Festival and a junk food marketing opportunity! (Not to mention all the obvious pagan symbolism involved, but that’s a chat for a different blog.)
End rant. Let’s talk a little about the various Easter candies, and their comparative evilness.
- Milk chocolate is among the least problematic of the popular Easter candies. Do not take this to mean that the stuff is innocuous. One ounce of milk chocolate has 145 calories, with 17 grams of carb and only one gram of fiber. I don’t know about you, but most of my meals have a lower carb count than that. Useful information: Those little foil-wrapped chocolate eggs run about a quarter-ounce apiece, so four of ’em will add up to 16 grams of usable carb.
- Love those Cadbury Creme Eggs? I have bad news for you: The creme filling is mostly sugar. Just one of those suckers has 135 calories, with 28 grams of carb, 25 of which are pure sugar. Since sugar runs 4 grams of carb to the teaspoon, that means that Creme Egg has more than 6 teaspoons of sugar in it. Yowch!
- I was heavily addicted to Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs when I was a kid. They’re better than the Cadbury Creme Eggs, I’ll say that for them. One peanut butter egg has 180 calories, with 18 grams of carb and 1 gram of fiber. Also 4 grams of protein, no doubt from the peanut butter. These are less likely to send you into a blood sugar tailspin than some other things.
- Jelly beans are pure evil, you know that, right? Just 10 jelly beans have 41 calories, with 10 grams of sugar. Since sugar has 4 calories per gram, that means that jelly beans are just about solid sugar. On the other hand, this makes counting jelly bean carbs easy: One bean, one gram. Two beans, two grams. A couple of handfuls of beans, goodbye daily carb limit.
- What is it about Peeps? People are crazy about ’em, and they’ve just never been a favorite of mine, even when I was a sugar-crazed kid. I even know people who prefer them stale and crunchy, and buy up the half-priced Peeps after Easter, to age for the next year. Weird.
- Peeps aren’t as bad as they could be. Oh, they’re mostly sugar, all right, but they’re puffed up with air. According to the official Just Born Peeps website, a serving of Peeps is five! That strikes me as quite a lot. Those five Peeps will have 160 calories, and 40 grams of carbohydrate. Once again using our 4-calories-per-gram figure, we see that Peeps, like jelly beans, get all of their calories from sugar. The gelatin in them contributes a single gram of protein, which would lead me to think their calorie count is just slightly off, but whatever. I’m not going to bother calling the company or anything.
This means, of course, that if you can bring yourself to eat just one Peep, you’ll get just 8 grams of carbohydrate. That’s not so awful, though of course there’s no fat to buffer the blood sugar impact. If you just have to have a Peep – and can limit yourself to just the one lonely Peep – I’d eat it after a meal, to minimize the blood sugar rush-and-crash.
How about sugar-free Easter candy?
- Zero Sugar Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups taste just like the sugary ones. They’d be my choice to replace the Reese’s eggs. 5 sugar-free mini-cups have 180 calories, with 27 grams of carbohydrate. 6 grams are fiber, which leaves 21 grams. Of that, 20 grams are maltitol. (Don’t forget Atkins Endulge Peanut Butter Cups or Other Low-Carb & Keto Sugar-Free Chocolates, Candies, Mints, and Gums)
- I do not subscribe to the food industry notion that we can completely discount polyols (sugar alcohols.) Indeed, of the polyols, maltitol is the one that is most digested and absorbed – about half of it ends up being absorbed into your system. Accordingly, I’d count half of it, or 10 grams of carb, plus that one leftover gram, which I assume is carbohydrate inherent in the chocolate or peanut butter. So – 11 grams of usable carb in 5 mini-cups, though I generally eat only one or two; more than that makes me socially offensive.
- Local specialty candy stores may well have sugar-free chocolate Easter novelties – bunnies and the like. Assume that they will be maltitol-sweetened; most commercial sugar-free stuff is. And of course, sugar-free chocolate bars are ubiquitous anymore. (Don’t forget Sugar Free Easter Chocolates @ CarbSmart.com)
- Sugar-free jelly beans are available. However, keep this in mind: Just as regular jelly beans are little nuggets of solid sugar, sugar-free jelly beans will be little nuggets of solid maltitol. Far, far more maltitol per bite than sugar-free chocolate or peanut butter cups. Consider them to be particularly tasty laxative tablets — indeed, the Jelly Belly site warns against eating more than 8 of their sugar-free beans at a time. (Don’t forget Jelly Belly Sugar Free Bagged Candies)
- Sugar-free marshmallows are harder to find than sugar-free jelly beans, but do exist especially at CarbSmart.com: La Nouba Sugar Free Marshmallows and La Nouba Sugar Free Chocolate Covered Marshmallows). But again, they’re going to be a pretty serious source of maltitol, though of course puffed up with air.
Now, if you can just avoid loading up on potatoes and rolls at Easter Dinner, you should be fine. Have a lovely weekend! (Me, I’m going to watch The Ten Commandments again.)
© Dana Carpender. Used by kind permission of the hoppy author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.
More Low Carb Easter Ideas
- Sugar-Free Chocolates at Amazon.com
- Budget Low Carb: Low Carb Pudding Eggs Recipe
- Budget Low Carb: Low Carb Pudding Eggs Recipe
- CarbSmart Sugar Free / Low Carb Easter Basket
- Easter Leftovers Recipes by Dana Carpender
- Lesson #60: Easter Dinner Recipe
- Russell Stover Sugar Free Jelly Beans 7 oz. bag
More Low Carb Recipes & Articles by Dana Carpender.