The Easter Bunny is the bearer of all things sweet and delicious, however, this holiday doesn’t have to induce the same sugar high as Halloween. Instead, fill those Easter baskets with some healthy alternatives. (Yes, we’ve included veggies and fruit, but we promise chocolate still has a strong presence.)
- Nut Butter and Fruit
To keep the carrots company, chuck a few apples and bananas in that Easter basket and pair them with almond butter packets for a healthy fiber- and protein- filled snack.
- Chocolate Covered Fruit
For a chocolate fix with a healthy dose of fruit, dip whole strawberries, grapes or banana slices in melted chocolate. Microwave the chocolate on 50-percent power in 30-second increments, stirring between spurts, until smooth (or use a double boiler). Place the chocolate-sized fruit in mini muffin papers so the chocolate doesn’t smear all over the rest of the basket’s contents. To scale back on the chocolate, drizzle the melted chocolate over fruit with the tines of a fork. For an added crunch, roll the fruit in chopped nuts( almonds, walnuts, pecans, and pistachios).
- Fruit Snacks
Standard fruit snacks often contain a host of artificial flavors, synthetic colors, and preservatives. While it takes some time, it may be worthwhile to make your own fruit snacks using real fruit or Trader Joe’s has a variety of all-fruit snacks.
- Dark Chocolate
This time of year, drug stores and grocery stores stock their shelves with bunny- and egg- shaped treats… that are loaded with sugar, syrups, and hard-to-pronounce stuff. While we wouldn’t tell you to forego candy completely (that’s just cruel), you can choose a healthier chocolate bar by keeping a few things in mind. To reap the benefits of dark chocolate, choose a bar with 70 percent or more cacao. Healthy bonus points: Cacao has been shown to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk for coronary heart disease . Make sure the first ingredient on the label reads “cocoa butter” or “cocoa liquor.” When sugar is the first ingredient, it may taste sweeter, but it has far fewer health benefits. Organic chocolate bars, while generally a little pricier, are more bang for your buck. Why? They’ve got fewer ingredients (usually just cocoa, sugar, and sometimes an emulsifier, vanilla, and milk) while other bars feature artificial flavors and cocoa processed with alkali (which knocks out some of the flavanol antioxidants) .
- Peanut Butter Eggs
Though store-bought eggs taste great, they’re often oversized and full of not-so-healthy ingredients. The filling, for instance, often contains more sugar than actual peanuts. Make your own PB eggs with recognizable ingredients and switch things up with almond butter for more fiber, iron, and vitamin E.
You don’t have to tell us carrots aren’t as cool as chocolate; we know. But the Easter Bunny loves ‘em, right? Wrap a few carrot sticks with green ribbon, or fill small cellophane bags with baby carrots to jazz the veggie up. Toss a few individual hummus containers in the basket as well for a healthy dipper.
- Gold Fish (or Bunnies!)
Cheesy snacks make an Easter-appropriate basket filler when they’re shaped like bunnies! Annie’s Chedder Bunnies—which come in a whole-wheat variety—or make your own. Grab a set of Easter-themed cookie cutters for festivity’s sake. While moderation is key with these cheesy little guys, the obvious benefit of homemade versions is that they actually use real cheese.
- Homemade Peeps
Easter without peeps is like Christmas without milk and cookies, Chanukah without gelt, and St. Patty’s day without green beer. For a healthier marshmallow remix, ditch the corn syrup and white sugar in favor of honey. We’re not saying these peeps are as healthy as a floret of broccoli, but at least they’re free of preservatives, artificial dyes, and carnauba wax (the main ingredient in car wax, which also makes an appearance in Peeps).
- Filled Plastic Eggs
Those classic plastic Easter eggs are a genius way to pre-portion treats. Fill ‘em up with dried or dehydrated fruits—or nuts, cocoa dusted seeds , healthy trail-mix or granola.
- Sidewalk Chalk
Sidewalk chalk is undeniably messy—and fun. Egg and chick-shaped chalk are especially ideal!
- Jump Rope
Budget-friendly, yet full of potential, the jump rope is a portable fitness must-have.
- Lip Balm
Often a go-to stocking stuffer, chapstick and lip balm also make for a great Easter basket filler. EOS lip balm is even shaped like an egg for a timely basket addition. The small spheres come in fun flavors like pomegranate raspberry, honeysuckle honeydew, and lemon drop.
- Stationary and an Everlasting Pen
There’s a lot to be thankful for when we get to spend time with family on holidays. Pick up some blank stationary or journal, which can help the writer reduce stress or monitor food intake.
- Small Fitness Gear
When the Easter feast and candy have settled, gift your Easter favorite with some small fitness essentials like headbands and athletic socks.
- Gift Cards
For a small-sized basket filler with a lot of opportunity, throw in an iTunes gift card for fitness apps or music to fuel workouts. Other cards, such as Starbucks, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes allow the basket receiver to feed that coffee craving or pick up a healthy lunch even after Easter has come and gone.