He also recommends avoiding popular, mass-produced and almost pure sugar candies like jelly beans and marshmallow candies, as well steering clear of milk chocolate bunnies with processed sugars like high-fructose corn syrup or trans fatty acids in the form of hydrogenated oils. (His favorite Easter treat alternatives include Annie's organic fruit snacks,Lake Champion organic dark chocolate Easter bunnies,andSjaak's, which has vegan and almond butter Easter candy options.)
When it comes to filling those Easter baskets, Wendy Palmer, registered dietitian at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Strong4Life, said, "The most important thing I tell parents is that it's all about balance."
Palmer, the mother of two young boys, shares her four tips for a healthier Easter basket:
1. Get creative with the plastic eggs. Fill your own colorful plastic eggs with items such as Easter erasers, rings, stickers, temporary tattoos and toy cars. These little items are fun and are inexpensive. For young children, avoid small toys that could pose a choking hazard.
2. Make the biggest item in the basket a toy. Trade the oversized chocolate bunny for something special like a kite. Kites can be inexpensive, even as low as $7, plus your kids will love running around and watching them fly high. Colorful soccer balls and basketballs work well, too.
3. Choose candy wisely. The Easter aisles are exploding with sugary options, so be smart about the candy you put in the basket. Many of us still have Valentine's Day candy in our pantries, so don't go overboard. Select just a couple of your child's favorite candy items for his basket. If your kids don't have nut allergies, go for dark chocolate treats that contain peanuts or almonds, as they pack more nutrition power from antioxidants and protein.
4. Skip the candy for babies. Many candies can be choking hazards for babies, and the American Heart Association warns against introducing kids ages 2 and under to added sugar. A baby's growing body and brain need nutritious foods for fuel, and sugar does not offer these key nutrients, and because healthy habits are hardwired by age 3, it's best to start baby off on the right foot by limiting sugar. Get baby into the Easter spirit by dressing the baby up for the holiday and fill the basket with cute board books and a soft bunny stuffed animal.
What is Lent? Lent is the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. It started as a Christian commemoration of Jesus' sacrifice during his 40 days of fasting in the desert leading up to his crucifixion. Mardi Gras is closely associated with Lent, since it falls right before Ash Wednesday. Today, many people have adopted the Christian custom of abstaining from certain foods, alcohol, etc., whether they affiliate with Christianity or not. Some religious leaders have said the practice of sacrific