Growing up, Easter was always a time of excitement. Not only did we get a new hat or a new outfit (to wear to church), but it was the only time of the year that we got candy. We lived in the boonies, so trick or treating at Halloween wasn’t on the program. Finding the eggs was great fun, although I don’t recall being that fond of hard-boiled eggs even if they were nicely colored.
Today it doesn’t look as if most children limit their sweets to just Easter, but there are some ways to minimize this holiday’s sugar over-indulgence. One is to buy smaller Easter baskets. Another is to fill those baskets with small toys, movie passes to their favorite upcoming movie, miniature books, markers or gadgets that take the place of all those sweets.
You might consider persuading your children that you want to do a historical type of Easter celebration. Chocolate eggs actually go back to the early 1800s, while monks used to distribute sweet yeasty buns to children. You can buy dark chocolate rabbits instead of milk chocolate ones to reduce some of the sugar. A milk chocolate bunny weighing about 1.2 ounces has 170 calories, 10 grams of fat and 19 grams of sugar.
An old tradition that you can blend with the new is to buy yogurt covered pretzels flavored with the same fruit flavors as jellybeans, including strawberry and blueberry. (Studies show that cherry, strawberry and grape are the top jellybean flavors.) Yogurt pretzels are colorful and they aren’t made of solid sugar. In fact, 7 pretzels equal about 130 calories, but have about 11 grams of sugar and about 6 grams of fat. In the old days twisted pretzels were said to resemble someone’s arms folded in prayer. Not a bad way to get children to remember the religious significance of the holiday.
Jellybeans, which originated around the time of the Civil War, are a must, of course. I admit that I liked the licorice ones the most. But having done a little research on licorice, I would limit a child’s intake of that flavor. If you’ve filled the basket with other gifts, you needn’t get too crazy with these sugar-filled, but “required” items. Because they are so small, the damage is much less. Luckily jellybeans don’t have any fat. You have to eat 41 jellybeans to equal 170 calories with 31 grams of sugar.
Even when I was a kid the Peeps didn’t look appetizing to me. I was never a fan of the flavor or consistency of marshmallows and preferred the solid chocolate bunnies. Look for the smallest size possible and buy the minimum. The same can be said of the chocolate eggs with marshmallow inside. Each Peep has 29 grams of sugar and 130 calories. Each egg is about an ounce and has 110 calories with 14 grams of sugar.
Robin’s eggs are malted milk balls with a sugar coating. Eight robin’s eggs have a little more sugar than a single Crème egg, which can be very messy. A Crème egg has 25 grams of sugar, 6 grams of fat and 170 calories.
Hopefully this information will help you make a more informed decision about what kind of candy to get for your child’s Easter basket. Read the labels on whatever you buy and try to limit how much your child can eat at one sitting. More and more studies are concluding that sugar is addictive and harmful. As a parent it is up to you to set the example and help your children moderate their sugar intake.
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