Bunny Love: Ideas for a Healthier Easter Basket

I went shopping for my kids Easter baskets this week.  They are beyond thrilled that the hoppity hoppity bunny is on his way!  There is much bunny love going on at our house right now.  Except for the fact that neither of them wants to actually go see the Easter bunny.  Cracks me up!  I get so excited living vicariously through them.  Remember how fun holidays were when we were kids?  I do.  Easter was especially fun with all that yummy goodness I found in my basket!

Instead of mounds of chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, or marshmallow Peeps, I aim to live out a healthier Easter tradition with my kiddos.  A bit different from the way we celebrated Easter as a kid.  I try to be creative and avoid putting tons of candy in their baskets.  They each get one chocolate bunny sucker and that’s pretty much it for sweets.  Instead of sugary treats, I might bag up some healthy snacks or throw some organic fruit gummies in there.  My kids love when they get little ‘gifts’ for Easter and they don’t even notice the amount of candy in their baskets is practically zilch.

Ideas for healthier Easter basket treats:

  • Organic Granola
  • Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies*
  • Organic Trail Mix
  • Homemade oatmeal cookies
  • Organic Raisins*
  • Annie’s Gummy Bunnies*
  • Dark chocolate covered pretzels or raisins
  • Yummy Earth* lollipops, gummy bears, sour worms

Ideas for themed Easter baskets or Easter bags or Easter pails:

  • Garden Basket- Fill the basket with all things gardening!  Gloves, garden tools, seeds, small pots, sun hat, garden mat.
  • Dress-up Basket- Fill it with a tu-tu and wings, superman shirt, batman mask, lady bug costume, etc.
  • Outside Play Basket- Jump rope, chalk, jacks, beach gear, sunglasses, shovel and pal, sunscreen, etc.
  • Arts and Crafts Basket- Paints, crayons, coloring books, art pads, markers.
  • Doll Basket: You can buy a small doll or fill the basket with accessories for a doll your child already has. There are so many doll clothes, shoes, hats, bottles, and bags to choose from.  If you have a daughter, you already know this.
  • My Favorite Color Basket- Use your child’s favorite color for inspiration and fill, fill, fill!
  • Sports/Hobby Basket- Chess lover, make-up artist, dancer, singer…endless possibilities.
  • Book Basket- Your child’s favorite author and an array of new books to read.

There are countless ideas to make this Easter happy and healthy for your family!  All you have to do is think outside the box!

What are you putting in your kids Easter baskets this year?

*A little FYI:
  • Yummy Earth is certified organic, gluten-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, and has no chemical colors, artificial flavors, or high fructose corn syrup.
  • Annie’s Gummy Bunnies are certified organic and made with no added preservatives, vegan, gelatin-free, gluten-free, and absolutely NO artificial colorings.
  • Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies are non-gmo and no sugar added.
  • Newman’s Own Organic Raisins are USDA certified organic  and high in antioxidants.

“Bunny Love” was originally published in April 2012 by Mommy OM.

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Strawberries, Pineapple, and Brownies on a stick!

 

Ella celebrated her birthday in school this past Wednesday.  She is a summer baby (July 7th), but the class threw a cute little party for her since they won’t be together for her real birthday.  I needed to send in a birthday treat for the impromptu event.  I decided to forego the cupcakes, cake and ice cream.  I wanted to make a healthy snack, but I also wanted to make it “special” because it was her birthday.  In this case, ‘special’ means some sort of chocolate or candy or sweet yummy goodness that almost always includes frosting and almost always is not healthy for you in any way.  I went with brownies sans the frosting.  Then I got creative (by my standards anyway!).  How about fruit and brownies on a stick?  Um, hello!  Perfect.  What kid doesn’t like a treat on a stick?  Am I right?

I went to the craft store and picked up some ribbon and some lollipop sticks.  I stopped at the grocery store and bought organic strawberries, an organic pineapple, and some organic brownie mix.

 

Quick and easy:

  1. Follow instructions for brownie mix, bake and allow time for them to cool.
  2. Wash your strawberries and pineapple before cutting.  Cut pineapple into chunks.  Cut stems off of strawberries.
  3. When brownies are  nice and cool, cut them into 1 1/2″ squares.
  4. Layer the pineapple, brownie, and strawberries onto the lollipop stick.
  5. Tie a ribbon onto the stick. Done!
Obviously you can alter the recipe to include any type of fruit you prefer!  I went with pineapple and strawberries because they mesh well with chocolate, but grapes, kiwi, oranges, apples, etc. will also work great!  Also, I found  lollipop sticks to be much safer to use than skewers (not so pointy!).  The sticks are shorter as well, which make them able to hold the perfect amount of food for the little ones.
Let me know if you try it!  Have a great weekend!

petroleum, coal tar, and popsicles?

The sun is blazing, the pool is open, the kids are energized, and school is on its way out!  This could only mean one thing – SUMMER is on the horizon.  I for one, could not be happier!  I ♥ summer.  The smell, the late nights, the campfires, the smores, the sand, the swimming, the people, the parties, the food.  Need I go on?  Okay, one more thing…frozen treats.  Popsicles!  Popsicles!  Popsicles!  Freezy pops, italian ice, ice cream cones, and lots of yummy summer fun!

All these goodies are so colorful and pretty!  And refreshing.  And easy to market to kids.  I mean what kid doesn’t like the bright colors of the rainbow?  Or a box of crayons?  Or better yet, a rainbow-colored popsicle that looks like a crayon?  Popsicles are a summer staple and they are oh so good.

One question though:

Would these treats look less appetizing if instead of listing

Red 40, Yellow 5, or Yellow 6

(which sound harmless) on the food label,

it listed

Food dyes derived from petrochemicals?  yum. yum. yum.

Did that grab your attention?  Would you knowingly feed your child ingredients derived from coal-tar or petroleum?  Probably not.  Yet we do it every single day in this country.  I know if I were reading a food label and saw the words ‘petroleum,’ ‘petrochemicals,’ or ‘coal-tar,’ I would immediately put the product back on the shelf and I bet you would too.  The problem is we aren’t properly informed on what ingredients go into the foods we consume.  Get this, food dyes were originally synthesized from coal tar and now they are synthesized from petroleum.  Yes, chemical byproducts of petroleum are what make those red popsicles so red!  Uhhh, gross.  Food dyes have long been controversial because of their possible health risks.  No kidding?  Oh and they are in almost everything!  From frozen goodies to yogurt to chips to mustard to Jello to lemonade to Poptarts to salad dressings to candy.  You name it.

The problem…

Recent studies linking food coloring to hyperactivity and ADHD in kids is causing some experts to call on the FDA to ban foods containing them – or at least require a warning label.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says the dyes are a “rainbow of risks” for children and can cause allergic reactions, hyperactivity, and even cancer.  I must point out that 1 in 17 children have allergies in the US, 1 in 10 have ADHD, and 1 in 5 are obese.  Despite those concerns, manufacturers put about 15 million pounds of eight synthetic dyes into our foods each year, according to the CSPI.

And now for the kicker….

Per capita consumption of dyes has risen five-fold since 1955, thanks in part to the proliferation of brightly colored cereals, fruit drinks, candies, and yes popsicles, all pitched to our children.

How do we avoid them?  How can we possibly go dye-free?

First read this: http://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf to educate yourself on food dyes.

Second, avoid synthetic dyes by choosing organic products. Organic standards prohibit the use of these dyes in products bearing the USDA Organic label.  Organic products use natural food colorings such as:

Red = Beet Juice or Paprika

Orange = Carrot Juice

Purple = Grape Juice

Green = Seaweed or Spinach

Yellow = Caramelized Sugar

Blue = Blueberry Juice

Third, read your food labels!  If you see colorings such as Blue, Red, Yellow listed on the label, don’t buy it.