Why a bunny is responsible for delivering a basket full of eggs, I’ll never know. I do know, however, that the store shelves are overflowing with pastel-clad packages of candy that has been transformed into cute spring animals like bunnies, chicks, and little eggs to “honor” the Easter holiday. While these Easter renditions of candy favorites may seem cute and innocent, they’ll do your waistline, healthy goals, and nutrition absolutely no favors. So, how do you resist the lure of a perfect peanut butter cup in egg form? Or those chick marshmallows covered in neon sugar that only make their appearance once an entire year?

First, opt for non-food/candy related Easter baskets. Yes,  I get it, you don’t want your kids to miss out on the fun; you HAVE to do an Easter basket for them! Consider some non-candy options. Remember, pure sugar, artificial dyes, and corn syrup aren’t good for anybody, regardless of age or current health. Help your entire family have good habits when it comes to holidays and nutrition and offer alternatives like:

Books: Easter-themed ones would be great, helping to educate and entertain at the same time. Or why not let your kids learn about those animals being depicted by the candy companies instead of eating sugar-laden version of them?

Stuffed Animals: Again, there are plenty of fuzzy, pastel, cuddly spring animals that your child would love to have around for longer than the time it takes to unwrap a piece of chocolate and inhale it.

Homemade Cut outs: Consider starting a new, fun family tradition, making Easter-themed cut outs at home. You can control the ingredient list, amount you make, and even decide to use natural foods like beets, berries, turmeric, and spinach for homemade pastel food “dyes”!

Easter Egg Trees: This was a favorite tradition growing up with my grandmother. We would find a large stick with several branches coming off of it, blow out the egg from the inside of the shell, and then paint the egg shells ourselves to later string up on our own little Easter Tree. And, bonus: consider a nice omelet or breakfast egg casserole for Easter morning with all those eggs!

An Adventure: Find a local Easter Egg hunt and go as a family! Make plans for a delicious brunch afterwards to chat about the adventure. You’ll burn calories looking for those hidden eggs and avoid packing them on since you won’t have a pile of candy waiting for you.

Money: Not a lot. But, consider how much money you might have spent on all that Easter candy. Now, place it in small increments in plastic eggs and set your kids out on a fun Easter egg hunt. Some eggs might have a penny, some might have $5!

In addition to changing up the Easter basket “goodies”, just avoid buying the candy at all. Whether you have kids or not, you can’t eat candy that isn’t there.  Thinking you’ll limit yourself to just “one” piece a week or a day is setting yourself up for trouble. If you must indulge, choose singe serving packages. Yes, they are more expensive, but that may make you think twice about whether you REALLY want it or not! And, if you decide to get one, you’ll only have that one to indulge in instead of the entire package sitting in your pantry! Instead of celebrating the spring season with synthetic, packaged, infinite-shelf-life candy products, why not splurge on some fresh seasonal produce? Strawberries are starting to make an appearance in the grocery stores, and asparagus is coming into its prime. Try some roasted fennel with new potatoes, or perhaps a simple pasta with a sprinkling of parmesan and some fresh peas. Get inspired by the fresh, bright green herbs making their way into the grocery stores. Consider a nice strawberry rhubarb compote to top your oatmeal or yogurt with. Better yet, try out this homemade “jam” recipe that’s sweetened with just fruit and honey, with a kick of chia seeds for an omega-3 boost – http://www.backtoscratch.net/whats-cooking/easy-homemade-jams

Let Easter be the start of a fresh, healthy, wonderful spring season; it’s a time for rebirth, recommitment, re-energizing; don’t let those pastel temptations derail you!

Aubrey Phelps MS RDN