by: Holly R. Layer
With Easter – and those baskets – fast approaching, I thought I’d offer some alternatives to candy and chocolate in the interest of promoting healthier choices. It’s OK to grab a bag of jellybeans and a Cadbury Egg while you’re at the store picking up all these fun ideas. After all, Easter comes but once a year. But make sure your child’s basket isn’t a sugar rush.
First, kudos to whoever came up with dying eggs at Easter. Not only is it a fun pastime to enjoy with your kids, hard-boiled eggs are packed with nutrition. One egg packs 12 grams of protein, 10 percent of both your daily vitamin D and B-12 needs, all for only 78 calories.
Because eggs don’t have carbohydrates – unlike yogurt, which has both carbs and protein – they’re an excellent source of protein if you’re going low-carb or pairing them with toast or pancakes in the morning.
Secondly, be aware of added sugars this time of year. Candy for Easter baskets is on sale at every store, and even I fall victim. In fact, I have bowls of jellybeans and chocolate eggs sitting out in the dining room right now. … That may not have been the wisest choice.
Small splurges aside, did you know that a medium McDonald’s Shamrock Shake costs you 660 calories and has a whopping 93 grams of sugar? That equates to approximately 23 teaspoons, or almost ½ cup, of sugar in one beverage. Even the 19 grams of protein (from the vanilla ice cream) doesn’t justify that kind of splurge.
Still craving that minty green drink? Make your own! Blend ½ cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, half an avocado, 1 handful spinach, one to two drops mint extract and a splash of milk for a healthier version. Top with whipped cream and a cherry if you’d like!
FILL YOUR KID’S EASTER BASKET THE HEALTHY WAY
Better-for-you goodies: Reach for items that aren’t 100 percent sugar, such as trail mix or nuts. Opt for small, individually wrapped pieces of dark chocolate, rather than large bars or eggs. Limit your child’s candy haul by portioning small amounts of sweets into a few plastic eggs, instead of giving them the entire bag.
Non-food items: Fill plastic eggs with small toys, like stickers, Legos, bubbles, art supplies or even loose change. Consider giving each child a portion of puzzle pieces so they can put it together as a group later.
Special surprises: Instead of a giant chocolate bunny as the centerpiece of the basket, put something more lasting inside, like a kite, a book, or seed packets for planting. Plastic eggs could hold clues for a treasure hunt.
Holly R. Layer, of East Aurora, is a registered dietitian who provides nutritional counseling to students at SUNY Buffalo State and teaches cycle and fitness classes at the Southtowns YMCA. She loves running, reading, fine stationery, colorful kitchen gadgets and ALL things food-related. An avid cook and baker, you can find her in the kitchen most days whipping up something yummy. Too bad her husband, Andrew, an East Aurora native, is the pickiest man alive! You can also find her writings at thehealthypineapple.com.