Sunday, April 20, 2014

Creating a Healthier Easter Basket and Menu



With the rate of childhood obesity on the rise, try something new. This year, buy healthy snacks instead of candy. You don’t have to sacrifice flavor, either. Low-calorie or low-fat doesn’t mean it has to taste bad.

This is one time that toys are okay. According to my kids, you can never have too many toys. An Easter basket is about getting a special treat. No one said those treats had to be edible. Small hand-held electronic games are available at stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Toys ‘R Us for less than ten dollars. Card games like Yugioh and Dungeon Dice Monsters are winners with kids these days. For the younger set, try dolls or action figures.

Jelly beans versus dried fruit. Jelly beans would be great if it wasn’t for all of the sugar. You can never eat just one or five for that matter. Dried fruit offers nutrition and taste in the same bite-sized portion as jelly beans. Ocean Spray® makes a snack called Craisins®. They are dried sweet cranberry snacks in different flavors. Also, Sun-Maid®, best known for their raisins, makes dried fruit treats including yogurt- and chocolate-covered raisins. My favorite is chopped dates. Kids won’t believe they’re eating something that’s good for them.

Snack size versus regular size. If you add candy to your basket, smaller is better. Choose snack-sized morsels like Three Musketeers® or Peppermint Patties®. These candy treats are lower in calories than other choices. Just add three or four for a sweet treat instead of chocolate bunnies or cream eggs.

Store bought versus homemade treats. We all enjoy going to the store and getting bubble gum and cupcakes, but do you really know what’s in what you are eating? Most if not all marketable treats started in someone’s kitchen. That means they were homemade at one time. Let’s take Rice Krispy treats® for example. The recipe was on the cereal box before they became a pre-packaged item in the store. At home, low-fat ingredients can be substituted to create delicious treats for the Easter basket. When you know what’s inside your food, you feel better about serving it to your kids.

Easter baskets don’t have to be chock full of junk to be fun. Healthy additions make you a better parent without sacrificing taste. Teach children to eat right while they are young so that they develop a lifetime of good habits.

How To:

    • 1

      Substitute healthy snacks for the sugary and chocolate-laden ones found in a traditional Easter basket. Give your children yogurt-covered raisins, dried fruit and homemade versions of the popular treats found in stores, which are much more nutritious for them.

    • 2

      Add books by your children's favorite authors, along with some fun Easter-themed bookmarks to their Easter baskets. A movie of a favorite book is also a great gift, like The Velveteen Rabbit, Multi-media

    • 3

      Fill the Easter basket with toys your kids can use while staying active outside, such as sidewalk chalk, bubbles, balls and sporting equipment.

    • 4

      Consider stocking the Easter basket with small gifts designed to encourage creativity in your children, such as paints, brushes, coloring books and crayons.

    • 5

      Arrange various kinds of seed packets with some gardening tools so your child can plant flowers or vegetables and watch them grow. Spring is the perfect time for your children to pick up gardening as a new hobby.

    • 6

      Pour healthy and homemade trail mix composed of a nutritious and low-sugar cereal, nuts, pretzels, bagel chips and a few jelly beans into plastic Easter eggs.

Fun and healthier holidays are all about striking a balance.  Your gifts, baskets and menu can be both.  But in the end, let’s remember that if we strike that balance on a more regular basis, it is okay to indulge every now and then… unless there are direct health challenges to consider.

Angelina Not A Chocolate Bunny Pup - 2009


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