This post was originally published on April 7, 2017 and updated on March 25, 2020.

The Easter bunny has a tough job this year. The kids are expecting jelly beans and a big chocolate rabbit, but many parents are hoping the young ones find a healthier Easter basket. To keep everyone happy, basket fillers should look for snacks made with better-for-you ingredients such as organic fruit juices, non-GMO Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil and natural colors. Toss some classic toys such as a jump rope and roller skates into the basket, too. These will help kids make the most of the season. Keep reading for tips that will help you build a basket that is both kid- and mom-approved.

How to pack a healthier Easter basket

1. Go easy on the sugar. According to the National Confectioner’s Association, Easter is the second most important candy-eating season of the year. While it’s okay to indulge now and then, health experts suggest we put the brakes on the sweet stuff. Excess sugar consumption is bad for our teeth and has been linked to increased risk of obesity, diabetes and other chronic inflammatory diseases. This year, consider substituting some of those high-sugar jelly beans with all-natural fruit leathers and sugar-free gums made without artificial ingredients.

2. Pack some active toys. Get the kids outside enjoying the spring weather by tucking a few active toys such as jump ropes, soccer balls and roller skates into their basket. Balance boards are especially trendy and can even be used indoors on a rainy spring day.  These non-food treats will help the kids burn off some of the extra calories they’re consuming, as well as boost their coordination and muscle tone.  

3. Choose snacks made with natural fats. The low-fat trend has been officially busted. A healthy diet must include fat. Not only is it good for our brain and skin, it also helps keep us full which may prevent between-meal snacking. There is, however, one fat that still needs to be avoided, trans fats. This artificial fat may be lurking in your holiday candies or treats. Look for snacks made with Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil. Many better-for-you snacks contain this natural oil instead of partially hydrogenated soy, corn or canola oils which is a leading source of artery-clogging trans fats. Bonus: All palm oil is non-GMO.

4. Be smart about tech toys. Today’s kids are all about technology, but think twice before you spring for another video game or electronic toy. If you must add a gadget, consider a pedometer or smartwatch which will turn activity-tracking into a game. Or drop in a build-your-own robot kit which will help develop programming skills. One more idea: Purchase a gift card for the local hobby shop. The kids might surprise you with their new-found interest in rocket-launching, model-building or magic tricks.

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