March 20, 2016

When the Easter Bunny comes hopping down the bunny trail, he's usually carrying all things sugar, sweet, and candy coated. The average Easter basket can quickly pile up calories—creme eggs, jelly beans, marshmallow-stuffed bunnies—and that's not counting the sweets hiding in plastic eggs all around the house. Even the most well-intentioned EB may overload Easter morning with many not-so-healthy treats without really noticing.

Yes, sure, holidays like Easter are special occasions, and they're entirely worthy of a bit of a splurge. But why go overboard when you can easily make a few swaps for a healthier Easter basket while still getting the sweets and treats your little bunnies adore? That's exactly what we did here.

To build the basket you see above, I broke down the typical collection of goodies into a few categories--and then added one to make this the ultimate healthy Easter basket. These categories include:

- Something bunny- Something sweet- Something crunchy- Something sporty

First things first, you just have to have something with a bunny on it from the Easter Bunny. Instead of a marshmallow- or peanut butter-filled bunny, look for something a little less edible.

Bunny ideas:- stuffed Easter rabbit (shown here: Large Bashful Bunny from Paper Source)- Easter-themed game (shown here: Stack the Carrot Game)- a wearable funny bunny accessory (shown here: Funny Bunny Glasses; also Fuzzy Bunny Tail)- a book featuring a bunny (shown here: The Tale of Peter Rabbit)

No, you don't have to skip the candy and sweets. Every basket deserves a treat. Just keep in mind that the sweet should be exactly that--a treat--and balance it with a few savory or even non-food items.

Healthier Easter candy ideas:- Chocolate-covered nuts: Many chocolate-dipped dried fruits have additional sweeteners added, so skip that and go for nuts instead.- Organic and all-natural candies, such as YumEarth Sweets and SurfSweets: These two brands are found in many grocery stores now, but any all-natural organic sweet will do. These types of sweets are free from artificial coloring, and SurfSweets is allergen-free.- Chocolate-peanut butter cups: Our favorite Justin's peanut butter cups are now available in mini sizes, perfect for portion control and sharing!- Fruit snacks: Gummy snacks are popular with kids of all ages (and adults, too). Be sure to pick up one that is organic and made with all-natural colors, not high fructose corn syrup and mystery chemicals. We love Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks.

What better time to introduce new snacks than at a holiday when they're considered a "treat"? (Speaking from personal experience, I was always more willing to try unusual foods if they were offered as "treats" than if my mom randomly sprang them on me.) With these snacks, I aimed to pick packages that were more visually appealing since we eat first with our eyes.

Snacks all bunnies will love:- I Heart Keenwah Quinoa Clusters- Annie's Cheddar Bunnies- Hidden Garden CookiesPeeled Snacks Dried Fruit- Go Raw Sprouted Cookies- Homemade energy bites

How could we build a healthy Easter basket and leave out something that encourages movement? An outdoor game is a great idea, or a piece of sporting equipment. (Soccer ball, anyone?)

Fitness- and health-focused basket ideas:- Jump rope or hula hoop- Basketball, baseball and glove, soccer ball, tennis racket and balls, badminton set, or obstacle course kit- Water bottle: Everyone in the family should have their own and make sure it's filled before you go anywhere. Here's a good opportunity to give a special one. Great brands: Contigo (shown), Cool Gear, Takeya, and S'well.- Lip protectant: It's never a bad time to teach kids to care for their skin, including their lips. Fun flavors may encourage frequent use, too.- Fruit: Definitely go ahead and include a few pieces of fruit in the basket. Bonus points if you offer something new like Sumo citrus or Lady Alice apples. Fruit boxes also make good "baskets" if you need something in a pinch.- A bar: Mom and dad's bars make a great treat for kids from time to time.

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