No Aussie Easter is complete without having an elderly relative force you to consume a hot cross bun with the fruit in it. It’s not that the fruit variety is bad — it’s just that they simply aren’t as good.
But that got us thinking — is it possible to spend all Easter shoving buns in your face (of all varieties) and still retain a rockin’ bod? And if so, which hot cross buns should you choose?
It’s a dilemma that Susie Burrell, registered dietitian and founder of Shape Me, has been advising on for years. She believes that the key to stopping Easter becoming a feast of biblical proportions is to keep the portions sensible, while still enjoying a hot cross bun or two — as feeling guilty about the calories will likely make you feel worse.
“Hot cross buns are a special treat and there’s no issue enjoying a small, traditional bun with a little butter over the Easter period,” Burrell tells 9Honey Coach.
“What’s the real issue is that these buns have been available since Boxing Day, and each year they get larger and larger, and more packed with extras such a choc chips.”
It’s important to remember that a hot cross bun is technically a “discretionary food”, so if you’re worried about too many hot cross calories causing your buns to sag, it’s best to stick to just one or two.
“There isn’t really a ‘healthy’ way to eat hot cross buns. It’s more about your portion size and being mindful of the extra fat you’re adding to your diet when you slather on the butter and margarine,” says Burrell.
Fruit, no fruit or chocolate – what’s the healthiest hot cross bun?
Historically, hot cross buns were made without milk because dairy was forbidden during the Christian period of Lent. But nowadays all it takes is a walk amongst the shelves of any local supermarket to see that the ingredient list of a modern bun is no longer sacred.
The dough of your modern hot cross bun can be filled with all manner of delicious ingredients from chocolate chips to coffee to Nutella — but what’s the healthiest option?
For Burrell, the key to keeping Easter as low-cal as possible is to choose a traditional non-fruit hot cross bun and keep the portion size sensible and small.
“It’s important to remember that the smaller the bun is, the lower the carbohydrate content will be and the smaller amount of calories it will have,” says Burrell.
“The variety with dried fruit does add some sugar — but dried fruit is also a key part of a traditional hot cross bun, so it’s hard to avoid. The chocolate variety on the other hand can add an enormous amount of sugars into your diet.”
According to Australian bakery Brumby’s, a traditional hot cross bun will set you back about 858 kilojoules (roughly 200 calories apiece), and that’s before you add butter or margarine.
If you decide to splurge and go for their Nutella-flavoured variety, you’ll consume an extra 150 calories as the price for all of that hot hazelnut goodness.
Considering the average adult daily energy intake is estimated to be around 8700kj, that means you could theoretically consume 10 traditional hot cross buns (without butter or added goodies) and still remain under the limit.
Sure, by doing this you would miss out on almost all of your critical nutrients (and likely have a cracking stomach ache) — but an Easter without some form of suffering just isn’t right.
If you’re watching your waistline, keep Easter to just one day
Whether you celebrate on Good Friday or Easter Sunday, if you’re keen to keep the calorie count of Easter down, it’s pivotal that you set boundaries on when it’s okay (and not okay) to gobble down the $2 shop chocolate your grandmother bought you.
“My biggest piece of advice would be to make sure you limit Easter treats to the Easter holidays,” says Burrell.
“A great strategy is to buy your own Easter gift — like one chocolate egg — with the intention to consume only what you’ve bought yourself on Sunday.”
But just because you want to keep trim doesn’t mean you have to spend Easter counting out the carrot sticks, says Burrell — as long as you keep it to just one day.
“It’s important to enjoy yourself on Sunday, but try to avoid giving yourself ‘permission’ to overeat for four days just because it’s Easter.”