Leg of lamb can be a healthy easter food.

Like Thanksgiving and Christmas, Easter gives us a chance to celebrate with friends and family—usually around a big meal topped off with a special dessert.

You can lighten up your Easter foods without sacrificing flavor and boost your nutrition if you make some smart picks. 

Leg of Lamb vs. Spiral Ham

Winner: Leg of lamb. Both of these traditional Easter foods are lean cuts of meat. The lamb has 180 calories, about 7 grams of fat, and about 2 grams of saturated fat in 3½ ounces. The same amount of ham has 139 calories, 5 grams of fat, and less than 1 gram of saturated fat.   

You get more iron, vitamin B12, and zinc from the lamb, but what really gives it the edge is its very low sodium count, just 66 mg. The ham provides 977 mg, 42 percent of the maximum amount you should have in a day (2,300 mg). 

Green Beans vs. Asparagus

Winner: Asparagus. A cup of asparagus (equal to about eight medium-sized spears) is packed with folate, vitamin A, vitamin K, and iron. These two side dishes have about the same fiber count.

To preserve the nutrients, color, and texture, cook asparagus until it's just tender. You’ll see it turn bright green, and if you pick up a spear, it should bend just slightly.

Rice Pilaf vs. Roasted Red Potatoes

Winner: Roasted red potatoes. The nutritional makeup of rice pilaf depends on the ingredients it contains, but one cup (cooked) of a typical packaged rice pilaf has 352 calories. The potatoes have fewer calories—151 for a medium potato—and twice the fiber, and they supply vitamin C, iron, potassium, and niacin.

Toss them in olive oil before roasting, and instead of sprinkling with salt, season them with fresh chives or rosemary.

Lindt Gold Milk Chocolate Bunny vs. Lindt Gold White Chocolate Bunny

Winner: Tie. First thing to know: The nutrition facts label on both the milk chocolate and white chocolate bunnies says each contains four servings. Granted, they’re 3½ ounces each, but one would think that a single bunny is a single serving.

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If that fact escaped you when you read the nutrition label, you might eat the whole thing without realizing you’re getting four times the calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugars listed.

That said, per "serving," both bunnies are pretty equal nutritionally. The milk chocolate bunny has 110 calories and the white bunny has 120, total fat is 7 grams vs. 8 grams, and saturated fat is 4 grams vs. 4.5 grams. Both have 12 grams of sugars.

But remember: Unless you're willing to consume about 450 calories, 30 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, and 48 grams—12 teaspoons—of sugars, split the bunny with a friend.

Raspberry Danish vs. a Waffle

Winner: Waffle. For Easter brunch, a waffle and a raspberry danish are about the same size (both about 2½ ounces). The danish has 263 calories to the waffle's 218, and about 13 grams of fat vs. the waffle's 11.

This assumes, however, that you don't add syrup to your waffle. Just a tablespoon of maple syrup adds 52 calories and 12 grams of sugars, putting it about on a par with the danish. 

As an alternative, try eating your waffle with fresh fruit, such a strawberries or blueberries, instead of syrup. You'll add fewer sugars, plus you'll be adding all the fiber and nutrients that fruit provides.

To make a healthier waffle, try this recipe:

Whole-Wheat Waffles With Wheat Germ
2 cups white whole-wheat flour
¼ cup toasted wheat germ
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon canola oil

Directions
1.
Mix the flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. 

2. In a medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, and oil.

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix with just a few strokes until the batter is evenly moistened.

4. Heat a nonstick electric waffle maker. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Scoop batter onto griddle (about ¼ cup per waffle, depending on the size of waffle maker). Let waffle cook until the indicator light on the waffle maker turns on. 

Makes about 14 waffles, depending on the size of waffle maker.

Nutrition Information: One waffle has 120 calories, 3 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 5 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 2 g sugars, and 10 g sodium.