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March 30, 2023

How to fill your kids' Easter baskets with healthier treats this year

Try surrounding the chocolate bunny with fruit, nuts and hard-boiled eggs. Non-food items, like coloring books, make great gifts, too

Parenting Nutrition
Easter eggs Krystyna Kramp/Pixabay

One way to make Easter baskets more healthy: Replace some of the candy-filled plastic eggs with hard-boiled eggs.

For parents, every holiday involving sweets brings brings a similar dilemma: How to get children to enjoy the occasion without filling up on empty calories.

Too much sugar can cause inflammation in the body and blood sugar problems that lead to energy crashes. And when candy lingers in the house, it makes it more difficult for everyone to eat healthy.

While a little indulgence is healthy, consuming too much chocolate and other sweets can lead to unhealthy weight gain, increasing the risk of chronic health issues like diabetes and obesity. As a parent, it is important to model healthy lifestyle choices and to show children what a healthy relationship with food looks like.

Teaching children how to enjoy special occasions without binging on junk food is a great way to do that. Nutritional experts say there are plenty of healthy – yet tasty – alternatives to include in Easter baskets this year.

Here are some suggestions from Greatist, CookingLight and Healthy Family Project:

• Include fruit and vegetables like carrots, bananas and apples, and add a packet of a healthy dip like almond butter.

• Make homemade fruit snacks that satisfy your kids' sweet craving but lack extra preservatives.

• Buy healthier dark chocolate bars, break them into smaller portions and wrap them as individual treats.

• Make your own peanut butter eggs so you can control the ingredients that go into them.

• Instead of filling plastic eggs with candy, hard boil and dye eggs that can be enjoyed as healthy snacks.

• Make your own graham snacks without hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Use Easter molds to make them more festive.

• Include some non-food items like chalk, coloring books, crayons, gift cards, movies or music.

• Dried fruit is a healthier alternative to candy. Look for products without added sugar. 

• If you don't have time to make homemade treats, choose packaged treats with healthier ingredients like granola bars, baked chips or crackers. Trail mix, popcorn and nuts can be healthy additions.

Of course, this doesn't mean parents can't include a chocolate bunny or marshmallow treat in their kids' Easter baskets as well. It is all about moderation.

It's also important to ensure children drink enough water and eat healthy meals and snacks throughout the holiday rather than letting them graze on sweets all day. 

To satisfy everyone's sweet tooth, consider making a low-calorie – but sweet – dessert for Easter dinner. These Better For You Brownies, which are 95 calories with just 3 grams of fat, and these Dark Chocolate and Banana Sundaes, which use dairy-free ice cream, are possibilities. 

To keep the family from sinking into a sugar coma, try planning some Easter activities, like an Easter Egg hunt, other activities that get the heart pumping, like a family game of flag football or hide-and-seek.

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