Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Healthy Easter Basket Tips

Easter is just days away, and the grocery stores are stocked with shelves of sugary goodies awaiting the big day. My daughter is only 2, and though she LOVES candy, I've been looking for other alternatives for her basket.

Janet Little, Certified Nutritionist for Henry’s Farmers Markets, offers some great tips for making your child's Easter basket healthy and fun this year.

Easy ways to turn that sugar-packed Easter basket into a basketful of healthy treats:

  • Give dark chocolate instead of milk or white chocolate. Dark chocolate is full of heart healthy antioxidants, B-vitamins, magnesium and potassium. Although dark chocolate does offer health benefits, it still contains fat and calories, so stick to including small quantities.
  • Are your kids a little nutty? Give them packs of fresh mixed nuts or dried fruit. Nuts are rich in fiber and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium.
  • Eliminate the candy overload by adding fun toys to Easter baskets that will get the kids up and moving, such as swimsuits and jump ropes.
  • Your child’s creativity doesn’t need to be limited to dyeing eggs. Add items to their baskets like crayons or paints.

What to Avoid:

  • Avoid giving your kids jelly beans as they are high in sugar. Surprisingly, Americans consume about 16 billion jelly beans at Easter each year.
  • Do not let your kids have free reign over their candy. Set up a schedule (such as picking one piece of candy after dinner each day) so you and your child know how much candy they are consuming.
  • Do not stick to your old ways. Be healthy in creative ways, such as adding items that encourage learning and exploration, such as coloring books, music toys or an origami kit.
  • Do not make candy the only Easter treat. Instead, try rewarding your kids with fresh sweet fruit.
  • Do not teach your children bad habits. Children’s eating habits are formed at a young age, so the sooner you switch them to healthier alternatives, the better.
Thanks Janet!

On a related note: If you do want to put a little candy in the basket...Henry's offers a great selection of bulk candies. You can buy as much as you would like, so you aren't stuck with leftover candy.

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