In the 13th Century, a tradition started of giving hot cross buns to the poor on Easter. This gesture and rare treat has morphed into a $2 billion a year industry. Today, Americans eat almost 25 pounds of candy per year. While not all of that is on Easter, of course, most of us chow down on more chocolate, jelly beans, and Peeps than is good for us – especially if we’ve been abstaining for Lent! This year, make room in the basket for some non-candy choices. Here are just a few suggestions for healthy Easter basket items.
Instead of filling a basket with chocolate bunnies and other goodies, limit the amount of candy to a few of your child’s favorites like some malted eggs, a Reese’s peanut butter egg or maybe a Cadbury crème egg. Put more emphasis on the fun things in the basket, including sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, play-dough, Slinkys, bubbles, toss games, balls, craft supplies, and more. Perhaps your child likes going to the beach, you could add a new swimsuit, goggles, beach ball, mini kite or other beach toys. Or maybe you have a little girl that likes to be a princess, how about including a mini nail polish, mini lip gloss, a tiara, and a boa in her Easter gift basket. Your child will want to hop right up and start playing. That’s a whole lot healthier than sitting down and eating more caramel-filled eggs!
You don’t have to kick all types food to the curb, just make a few switches from the sweet treats to a few more healthy snack items.
Chocolate and/or yogurt covered raisins. These will satisfy the sweet tooth – and they look like little mini Easter eggs. Put some into a bag or in a plastic jar, tie a ribbon on, and watch your kids enjoy.
Dried or fresh fruit.
Nuts and seeds. Chocolate-covered peanuts can help add some sweet to the treat.
Trail mix. If it is made with low-fat cereal (Chex or Cheerios), nuts, seeds, and scattering of M&Ms can be a healthier choice.
Gourmet Popcorn. . Everyone loves popcorn, and it is a great alternative to candy and chips. You also get a little fiber with each serving. To make it healthy, drop the microwave bag and make your own at home. There are endless variations for toppings and recipes. Take a look online to find some recipes and create some of your own soon-to-be-famous gourmet popcorn.
Healthy cookies or muffins. You can cut the fat and calories of regular baked goods by substituting healthier ingredients, like pureed fruit. Baking your own tends to cut down on sugar, fat, preservatives, and chemicals. Try this recipe for strawberry muffins from Weelicious.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup vegetable or canola oil
- ½ cup honey or agave nectar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 ½ cups chopped strawberries
- Preheat your oven to 375? and grease or line your muffin pan.
- Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, mix the egg, milk, oil, honey or nectar, vanilla and lemon zest.
- Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients.
- Add the strawberries and gently combine, being careful not to over-mix.
- Bake for about 20 minutes.
Yields: 18 regular muffins or 36 mini-muffins.
Better candy choices. Easter is a special occasion, and it’s ok if you want to allow a few treats into the basket. If you can, substitute dark chocolate for milk. Dark chocolate has fewer calories and less sugar, and it also has healthful flavonoids. Use plastics eggs to help with portion control; an egg with a few chocolate-covered peanuts, for instance, is a great treat.
This year, make Easter a healthy holiday. Not only will you still be able to offer delicious treats, you’ll give yourself the gift of not gaining holiday pounds and your child an amazing Easter basket!