The Easter bunny is just a hop, skip and jump away from filling our baskets with candy and our kids' teeth with cavities--not to mention tightening our skinny jeans! It's no surprise that your kids love sugary foods (don't you?), and they probably can't make it through the grocery store this week without grabbing handfuls of pastel-colored goodies. The holiday sugar rush can derail even the most nutritious of parents--those who typically earn gold stars for household sugar-control throughout the year. Whether you're a famously nutritious parent year-round, or someone who takes a free-for-all approach to the holidays, consider these Easter candy face-offs:
Rice Krispies Treats instead of Marshmallow Peeps
Did you know that Peeps contain more carbohydrates than a slice of white bread? They're made primarily of sugar and pack 28 grams of carbs in four bunnies. (One slice of white Wonder bread has 13 grams of carbohydrates.) On the other hand, an original Rice Krispies Treat has only 90 calories and eight grams of sugar. You can also make healthier homemade versions as an Easter activity with your kids!
Dark chocolate bunny instead of the traditional milk chocolate version
Compared to dark chocolate, milk chocolate packs more sugar and less of the original cocoa bean. Dark chocolate varieties often have less sugar and added fat and more cocoa solids. More cocoa means more flavonoids and higher nutritional value. Plus, all the kids really care about is the bunny shape anyway!
Justin's Organic Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups instead of Reese's
Many commercial, processed peanut butters (like the kind in Reese's) contain partially-hydrogenated oils, which give the peanut butter a longer shelf life. But this hydrogenation process creates trans fatty acids, which raise your "bad" cholesterol levels and lower "good" cholesterol levels. All-natural peanut butter, like that found in Justin's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter cups, is 100 percent nuts with no hydrogenated oils or trans fat. They're just as delicious and better for you, so stash some Justin's in your kids' baskets and give them a boost of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and even some antioxidants.
Real, hard-boiled eggs instead of Cadbury Cream Eggs
OK, hear me out. I know a real egg is a big stretch from the sugary Cadbury version. But just one Cadbury Cream Egg contains 150 calories, six grams of fat and 20 grams of sugar--and nothing nutritious. Real eggs are a complete protein and a truly egg-celent alternative to the Cadbury kind. And decorating them is a fun (albeit messy) activity for the family. Put your decorations to good use, and make deviled eggs or egg salad. If you want to be uber-healthy, use all-natural food dyes made from organic fruit, vegetable and plant extracts. These are a better option for you, the earth and maybe even the Easter bunny.
Don't want to go the sugary, sticky route at all? Toss in some fun socks, stuffed animals, nail polish or toys in your kids' baskets. Or go for coloring books, crayons, stickers, puzzles, bead or jewelry-making kits and clay. You could even give kid-safe gardening tools for a spring project to work on together. Still worried about those snug skinny jeans? Get the whole family moving and burn off some of those candy calories with a fun and festive egg hunt!
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Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN, is the founder and president of Nutritious Life, a nutrition practice based in New York City, and Nutritious Life Meals, a gourmet, healthy, daily diet delivery program available across the country. She is a member of Women's Health Magazine's advisory board and has authored Slim Calm Sexy Diet, The O2 Diet, and The Snack Factor Diet. Her fourth book, The New You and Improved Diet, will be released in December. Her expertise is regularly featured on the Today show, Good Morning America, and Access Hollywood Live, among others, and she hosts "A Little Bit Better" on YouTube's Livestrong Woman channel. Read more of Keri's tips every day on Facebook!