How to Build a Healthier Easter Basket

If you ask my son what the Easter Bunny brings, he'll tell you: "apples, bananas, snacks, clothing and toys." That's because my husband and I have broadened the definition of Easter basket "treats" for him. We wouldn't give him a basket of junk food on other days, so why would we on Easter? 

Certainly the holiday is a serious one and is not about chocolate bunnies and jelly beans; even if you're not religious, it's a day to celebrate family and the coming spring season. So, treat it that way! Fill your child's basket with yummy and nutritious food as well as tools for experiences that you can enjoy as a family.

Worried you'll be depriving your child? Don't be. You're going to assemble a basket virtually overflowing with a bounty of treats -- edible and not -- and you'll see that you haven't deprived your child of anything except artificial colors, high fructose corn syrup, and nutritionally-barren candies. 

If you're dead-set on giving your kids jelly beans or Cadbury eggs, at least limit the amount of them by adding these other items (or any fun thing you come up with): 

Fruits and Veggies. Apples, bananas, oranges, kiwis - whatever's available near you, whatever your kid loves. Fruits are colorful and delicious. For veggies, how about carrots with the greens still attached, or peas in their pods? And children know that rabbits love fruits and veggies, so it makes sense that the Easter Bunny would regard them as a special treat. Put small fruits (like raisins, blueberries or grapes) in those plastic eggs so they don't get lost in the basket's grass. Make sure you wash the eggs first!

Gift Certificates. Make your own for anything that your child would regard as special: "An Extra 1/2 Hour of Television" or "Wear Your Pajamas to School for One Day" or "Lunch at Your Favorite Restaurant with Mom/Dad" (which is great for kids who have siblings and don't always get tons of one-on-one time with you).

Clothing/Accessories. Kids love dressing up with headbands, barrettes, nail polish, fun socks, rub-on tattoos, superhero capes, hats, or wands.

Toys. Stop by your local dollar store -- or the cheapo section of Target or Michael's crafts -- to load up on tools for fun activities. You can even do themes: 
  • Garden Basket: seeds, watering can, tools
  • Beach Basket: bucket, shovel, inflatable beach ball, sunglasses, flip-flops
  • Backyard Basket: bubbles, water gun, butterfly net, frisbee, jumprope
  • Arts and Crafts Basket: crayons, paints and brushes, play-doh, stickers
  • Kitchen Helper Basket: a kid-sized apron, measuring cups, homemade pancake mix in a mason jar -- you and your kids can make Easter breakfast together!
Dark chocolate covered almond butter cups. Drooling yet?
Treats that are not devoid of nutritional value. When you make your own foods, you control the quality and quantity of ingredients; you're not adding artificial colors or high-fructose corn syrup to the foods you make, am I right? Some simple ideas:
  • Make our easy and delicious Almond Butter Cups or Peppermint Patties 
  • Melt good chocolate, mix with dried fruit or nuts or cereal, pour into a candy mold (available at craft stores) and chill for a few minutes in the fridge
  • Buy Easter cookie cutters and transform your child's favorite cookies into basket-worthy treats. 
Homemade Peppermint Patties are easier than you'd think!
Don't have the time/energy/inclination to make anything? Then buy good quality snacks. Green & Black's organic chocolate is delicious and comes in miniature bars. My son's favorite special treat is organic, dark chocolate covered pumpkin seeds; we get them at our local health food store. And, hey, what kid doesn't love fruit leathers (made with 100% fruit)? They're a much healthier sweet treat than jelly beans! Do these options cost more than Peeps or Reese's peanut butter eggs? Yup, they sure do. But that will help limit the amount that you buy. After all, if you purchase that five-pound bag of M&M's, your family will eat all five pounds. And nobody needs to eat five pounds of M&M's.
My son got a stuffed duck - and lots of fruit and veggies - for his first Easter

What will you put in your child's Easter basket this year?

UPDATE: This year I'm adding a new homemade treat to my son's basket: Almond Joy Bites!


  1. I'll use any excuse to make these treats, I'll even pretend I celebrate Easter! :) Actually, these would make good Passover treats too...

  2. Yeah, that's why i rushed to get the peppermint patties up yesterday afternoon - totally Passover-acceptable!

  3. I stumbled across your blog from Crazy Sexy Life. I have been pondering how to do this ever since I read Crazy Sexy Diet a few weeks ago and have been trying to make changes. Thanks for all the great tips!!

  4. This is also great for kids who have food allergies!

  5. Aubrey - Thanks so much for checking us out! If you're on Facebook, you can "like" us and get notifications every time we add new recipes and tips. Good luck with all the positive changes you're making :-)

  6. Jen - Thanks, hadn't thought of that!

  7. Great ideas, all for healthier traditions. I love the gift certificate concept. Also think carrots (in various colors) could work. We're headed to an easter egg hunt today and I'm sure it'll all be crap, so sad. It's important to start good traditions while children are little as once older Easter=Chocolate.

  8. Definitely carrots would be great! I love those purple ones, so pretty. Good luck at the Easter egg hunt today - hopefully there'll be less crap than you're expecting...?

  9. What a brilliant idea, will definitely be doing this for my grandson!

  10. Wonderful, I'm sure he'll love it!

  11. fullbellysistersApril 6, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    Thanks, enjoy your holiday!


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