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How to Make a Low(er) Sugar Easter Basket

By Kellee Bryan
Easter is nearly here, and no matter how your family chooses to celebrate, there's likely to be one common factor: CANDY!!

It's hard to avoid the ubiquitous chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, and spongy marshmallow chicks, even for the most diligent healthy eater among us. And if you're a parent, managing you child(ren)'s sugar intake requires skills verging on super-human – especially if you're battling against the influence of school parties and those pesky candy-pushing grandmothers. (Love you, Mom!)

While there may not be a whole lot you can do to control your child's access to candy outside of the home, you can reign in the contents of the ultimate sugar bomb: the Easter basket.

Have you noticed that Easter baskets seem to be growing steadily more enormous with each passing year? Some "child-sized" baskets are, quite literally, the size of a small child. Here's a great rule of thumb: if your kids can't easily pick up and carry their baskets around with one hand, it's too big. Try stepping down a size (or two!) and cut back on the candy filling accordingly.

Use Food.
Kids love candy, it's true. But there are probably some healthier foods that still "count" as treats as far as little ones are concerned. Try swapping out some of that candy basket filler with some less sugary snacks, like:
  • small fresh fruits like oranges, kiwis, kumquats, or grapes.
  • dried fruits, like raisins or cherries (look for varieties that don't contain added sugars).
  • nuts (peanuts, almonds, and pistachios are a hit with my son).
  • popcorn.
  • pretzels.
  • Annie's bunny-shaped crackers.
  • real eggs (hard-boiled, of course) in place of candy-filled plastic eggs.

Celebrate Spring!
The weather is beginning to change and kids of all ages are eager to get back to playing outside. Celebrate the new season with these outdoor treats:
  • sidewalk chalk
  • bubbles
  • seed packets
  • kid-sized gardening tools and gardening gloves
  • sun glasses
  • jump rope
  • beach/sand toys (extra credit if you use a sand bucket instead of a basket)

Toys are Treats Too!
Remember, there's no rule that says Easter baskets have to be filled with candy. At our house, for example, the Easter Bunny is known for leaving baskets of books. Small toys make great basket filler, such as:
  • stuffed animals
  • Play-Doh
  • crayons
  • watercolor paint and brushes
  • stickers
  • stamps
  • legos
  • nail polish
  • bubble bath or animal-shaped soaps
  • wooden blocks
  • hair bands and accessories
  • a charm bracelet or other jewelery
  • matchbox cars or Thomas the Train cars
  • coins
  • whatever collectible thing your kid is into these days (Sillybands, Japanese erasers, Gogos, Dunnies, etc.)

What about you? How do you keep sugar consumption in check on these candy-filled holidays?

Posted on March 27, 2013 08:25 PM