A Dietitian's Guide to Making a Healthier Easter Basket

At holidays like Halloween and Easter, I have to play my Dietitian card when it comes to choosing treats to give my children or other children. Now before you judge, I am not one to completely dork out and not offer any candy or sweet treats at holiday time. I like to enjoy a confection just like anybody else, and certainly don't expect my children go without any chocolatey or chewy delights. I do believe in limitations and control, however, in order to avoid bingeing or the uncomfortable over-consumption of calories and sugar. And this is something that I encourage every day of the year, not just holidays and special occasions, so it is no surprise to my children when these situations come around. When I buy candy, I try to mostly purchase candy and chocolates that are free from artificial ingredients, but this is not something that we practice 100% of the time. I try to be flexible and I know that the world isn't going to come to an end when my daughter eats some Jolly Ranchers.  I have a sensitivity to Red Dye #40 (I get a bad headache), so I try to keep that out of the house. 

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These suggestions for building a healthier Easter basket are based on personal purchases and experience with my own children. My kids get "treats" in their Easter basket, and maybe something on the side if it's too large to fit inside, and I always include some candies (I buy candy without artificial coloring or dyes) and a chocolate bunny or egg, and that seems to suit them just fine. I have never had any complaints, and have only seen happy children with smiles on Easter morning. 

Small items that actually fit into Easter eggs: 

  1. Money and coins (my daughter's personal favorite)
  2. Hair ties
  3. Rings, bracelets, necklace
  4. Stickers
  5. Tattoos
  6. Small bouncy balls
  7. Lego pieces - you can include enough to build an actual figure or vehicle, which is a nice unexpected surprise
  8. Cute erasers (like Iwako) - Oriental Trading Company and Amazon.com are good sources for these
  9. Shopkins
  10. Tiny animal figurines
  11. Trader Joes Jelly Beans
  12. Surf Sweets Organic Candies
  13. Motts Medley Fruit Snacks
  14. Yum Earth Candies
  15. Torie and Howard Organic Chewie Fruities
  16. Go Organic Hard Candies

Other suggestions for filling an Easter basket include: 

  1. Gift card
  2. Crayons and coloring book
  3. Yo-yo
  4. Play-doh eggs (filled with play doh in pastel colors) 
  5. Matchbox cars or Thomas trains
  6. Playing cards
  7. Granola bars
  8. Pencils/Pens
  9. Lip gloss or lip balm
  10. Funny socks
  11. Watch
  12. Sunglasses

Whole Foods and Trader Joes have a good selection of candies that are free from artificial ingredients as well as allergy-friendly brands, like Enjoy Life chocolate bars. 

Amazon.com has a great selection of eggs that already contain little toys, like cars or dinosaurs. 

An incredible source for candy year-round is Natural Candy Store, which has the best selection of candies I've ever seen, if you are concerned about artificial ingredients and/or food sensitivities and allergies. You can also find assorted chocolates and confections at a site called Thrive Market