The sweetest Easter basket is a healthy Easter basket. The typical basket, filled with chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks, contains about 2,000 calories and more than 80 grams of fat, but by replacing some of the sugary treats with nutritious snacks and small toys, you can create a healthier basket that kids will enjoy.
“Giving your child a healthy Easter basket sends a message that it’s OK to enjoy treats in moderation as long as it’s part of a balanced diet,” says Neva Cochran, a registered dietitian, of Dallas. It’s OK to include some chocolate—“It wouldn't be Easter without it,” she says—but make sure to focus on low-calorie and high-nutrition treats.
“The truth is that children today are overweight and undernourished,” says Mary Martin Nordness, a registered dietitian health education specialist in Hampton Cove, Ala. (pop. 7,204). She fills her three grandchildren’s baskets with unconventional treats that are rich in vitamins and nutrients: low-fat string cheese, low-fat chocolate milk, yogurt-covered raisins and lots of carrots.
Check out the before-and-after of our Easter basket makeover
Basket goodies don’t have to be edible. Nordness suggests including toys that encourage activity, such as a ball or a jump rope. Corey Colwell-Lipson, of Issaquah, Wash. (pop. 23,601), fills her two daughters’ baskets with bubbles, wooden toys, seeds and saplings, beeswax crayons, coins, yarn bracelets and cookie cutters in Easter shapes.
Colwell-Lipson, co-author of the book Celebrate Green!, believes Easter also can be environmentally healthy. “We reuse baskets, and we never use plastic grass,” she says. “Instead I use shredded paper or real grass that we’ve grown together.”
Luann Alemao, of Cedar Falls, Iowa (pop. 33,874), suggests taking the focus off what’s in the basket, and encouraging healthy activity by making a game of finding the basket.
“Our kids relished in the hunt for the basket,” she says. “We would hide it and give them rhyming clues to find it. Our kids thought this was the most fun of all.”