an easter basket with eggs and a smash mallow bag

Healthier Alternatives to a Candy-Filled Easter Basket

You might not think of Easter as a big-spending holiday. While it certainly doesn't rival Christmas, there is one area where Easter really racks up the numbers: candy sales.

Easter candy sales average around $1.9 billion every year, second only to Halloween. Is all that candy healthy? Of course not! While everyone deserves a few sweet treats now and again, there are also better alternatives than just pure sugar. Try these healthier alternatives for typical Easter basket treats that feature lower sugar levels and natural ingredients, allowing you and your family to indulge without the drawbacks.

smash mallow

1. Smashmallow Cookie Dough Snackable Marshmallows (Instead of Peeps)

Corn syrup. Yellow #5. Carnauba wax. YUM! Peeps are weird enough, as is, even before you take a close look at the ingredients.  One serving (5 chicks) contains 140 calories and a whopping 34g of sugar. That's nearly as much sugar as a can of Coca-Cola. Plus, the taste is just...pure sugar. Needless to say, Peeps leave much to be desired.

For a healthier (and tastier) treat, throw some Smashmallow snackable marshmallows into your Easter basket. You'll still get your marshmallow fix, but with natural ingredients and kosher-certified gelatin. Smashmallow uses organic cane sugar and fruit or vegetable juice to color their products. There's none of that artificial stuff here. And if you're wanting real flavor out of sweet treat, these bite-size snacks come in versions like mint chocolate chip, cinnamon churro, and strawberries & cream. One serving of the cookie dough (our favorite and a brand new flavor) has only 80 calories and less than half the sugar of Peeps (15 grams)!

Hail Merry Cups

2. Hail Merry Chocolate Almond Butter Cups (Instead of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups)

Reese's are a hot commodity in our household. Everyone fights over them. Personally, I find the peanut butter in these snacks to be too dry and crumbly.  What we can all agree on, however, is that there is just too much sugar in these bad boys (22 grams).

Hail Merry chocolate almond butter cups, on the other hand, features only 10 grams of sugar. Much of that trimming down can probably be attributed to the use of dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate (which is the Reese's option). I happen to prefer darker chocolate anyway. What makes these snacks even better is that Hail Merry creates all this great flavor without any of the preservatives found in the Reese's version. So long TBHQ! You won't be missed!

Dark chocolate pieces / Dunkle Schokolade

3. Dark Chocolate (Instead of Milk Chocolate) Bunnies & Eggs

I mentioned before that I prefer dark chocolate. The darker (or higher the cacao content), the more flavonoids the chocolate has. Flavonoids are phytochemicals with healthy antioxidant capabilities. But besides all the sciencey stuff, dark chocolate simply tastes better! Dark chocolate's sugar content is also much lower compared to its milk chocolate siblings.

If you're watching your overall sugar intake, darker is better. Sometimes dark chocolate Easter bunnies or eggs can be hard to find, however. Not to fear! Just make your own! Bunny and egg molds can found online for under $10. I snagged one from Amazon and bought some of my favorite dark chocolate (around 85% cacao is my preference). I then simply melted the chocolate, placed it in the mold, and let it set. Voilà! Healthy dark chocolate as an Easter bunny or egg.

Berries

4. Berries (Instead of Jelly Beans)

Much like my confusion over the fascination with Reese's peanut butter cups, I also don't understand the appeal of jelly beans. The flavors aren't stellar (to say nothing of that tutti-frutti thing). Plus, a single serving contains 28 grams of sugar. Of particular concern for children, the gummy texture is a magnet for nooks and crannies within the teeth. If your little ones don't brush effectively, this is a recipe for cavities.

Instead of opting for these corn syrup and artificial colored gummies, why not just have some healthy berries instead? Blueberries are just as bite-size as jelly beans, plus they taste much better! If you want to switch things up, try freezing some blueberries, raspberries, or blackberries for a welcome change in texture. You could also spear them with toothpicks, dip them in some Greek yogurt, and freeze them for an added treat (and some added protein)!