When I was a child, my brother and I loved Easter time, with woven baskets filled with artificial grass and chocolate-covered marshmallows, sugary Peeps, and – of course – chocolate rabbits with long ears. In college, I volunteered to help with the annual Easter egg hunt for special needs children for two reasons: 1) I loved the joy on the children’s faces, and 2) I confess: I loved helping to “clean up” after by nibbling on malted milk balls and chocolate bunnies!
Now, however, I’m more knowledgeable about just what all those pretty sweet treats contain (high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings, trans fat and chemical food dye). So when I play Easter Bunny, I make sure to choose nutritious treats that help my little recipients hop into good health this spring!
Here are some of my favorite healthy treats for placing in the Easter basket:
- You can’t go wrong with a layer of Clif Kid™ Chocolate Brownie Organic ZBars™. These kid-sized treats are chewy and chocolatey enough to satisfy your little cookie monster, yet filled with enough nutrition to satisfy your “I want a healthy kid” guidelines! Add variety with Clif Kid™ Honey Graham Organic ZBars™ – both contain whole grains, vitamins and minerals and taste great.
- Jelly beans are part of a traditional Easter basket – so why not indulge with Surf Sweets Organic Jelly Beans? With 100 percent of vitamin C per serving, these non-GMO goodies are made without hydrogenated oils or refined sugar.
- Speaking of tradition: How about letting Annie’s Homegrown Bunny Cookies in flavors like Cocoa and Vanilla hop into that Easter basket? They’re gluten-free, and perfect for dunking into milk! Without additives or trans fat, these delicious cookies are also (shhh, we won’t tell) great for adults!
- Flavored licorice is a great candy choice because of its long-lasting quality. But most commercial brands are made with hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup and artificial colorings and flavorings. That’s why we recommend Panda All-Natural Cherry Licorice for that Easter basket; they’re all-natural with real strawberry flavor.
- “Oh yummy!” will be the response when you offer Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops on Easter morning. These organic lollipops are made with real fruit extracts and come in flavors ranging from Tooberry Blueberry to Wet-face Watermelon, resulting in laughter as well as lots of happy licks!
- Here’s a tip: Have reusable plastic baggies on hand, and make single-sized candy and cookie goodies for that Easter basket. Less is more when it comes to healthy, happy kids. For example, you could put a handful of SunSpire Sun Drops® Chocolate Original Candies into that baggy, then save the rest of the candies for another day. Portion control is key for good health all year round!
Joanne Eglash, Vitacost.com’s Diet Diva, has a master of science in holistic nutrition and more than 15 years experience as a nutrition consultant, blogger, author and journalist. She has written for a wide range of publications and websites, including ediets.com,Natural Health magazine, Shape magazine, Success magazine, Energy for Women and Chefs. Joanne is currently the national Diets columnist for the online news and entertainment site, Examiner.com, and a features food columnist for Yahoo.