Isaac Hale, Daily Herald file photo

Treats are stuffed into Easter gift bags at the South Franklin Community Center on Friday, April 10, 2020, in Provo.

It’s almost time for chocolate bunnies, jelly beans, Peeps and other Easter treats. But this year, the Easter Bunny is being encouraged to leave some healthy snacks in those Sunday morning baskets as well.

Jennifer James, a certified dietitian and health and wellness coach at Ogden Regional Medical Center, said there are plenty of alternatives to sugar overload that will surely satisfy your child’s taste buds.

“Carrot-shaped bags for baby carrots, plastic hollow eggs for nuts, trail mix and dried fruit, dried fruit slices, chocolate-dipped fruit, Annie’s bunny-shaped graham or cheese crackers,” she said.

James said clementines, popcorn in an Easter-themed cellophane bag and colorful, dyed hard-boiled eggs are also great choices.

“As for making kids eat anything, good luck,” she said. “If they see us eating healthy options, they are more likely to copy that. Making most of the basket non-food items can help. I still think a small treat should be included, such as one chocolate bunny. “

James said non-food items to stick in the basket could include Easter-themed children books, sidewalk chalk, a packet of flower, herb or vegetable seeds they can plant, stickers, crayons and coloring books, a plush bunny or chick stuffed animal or Easter-themed jewelry are all popular with children.

There is one thing you should never put inside an Easter basket, however. Foodsafetynews.com reports putting a live animal like a bunny, chick or duckling can cause problems to the animal’s well-being as well as serious health issues in children, such as salmonella. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,722 cases of the food poisoning in 2020. Sixty-six percent of those infected had contact with chicks and ducklings, with 24% occurring in children under the age of 5.

The CDC is asking the public to supervise children while they’re handling live animals this Easter. Also, don’t allow kissing, nuzzling or touching the face. Be sure children wash their hands with soap and water immediately after touching or handling the animals and remove shoes outside of the house before you go inside.

James said adults and children alike can enjoy a healthy Easter dinner too. She suggests a small amount – about ¼ of a plate of ham, lamb or beef is fine, as well as ¼ of a plate of potatoes, rice, pasta, bread or rolls. Half of the plate should be filled with produce.

“Cooked vegetable with a salad, or salad and fruit, or a cooked vegetable and fresh fruit,” James said. “Go easy on the dressing and butter on the vegetables and rolls.”

Many families eat funeral potatoes on Easter. Using less cheese or low-fat cheese, less butter, less sour cream or low-fat sour cream, and adding more chopped veggies, such as green bell pepper, are some ways to make them healthier, James said.

“I will sometimes sub plain, non-fat Greek yogurt for part of the sour cream in a recipe. Or make roasted potatoes with rosemary, a little canola oil, salt and pepper to taste. If they can’t part with the regular funeral potatoes, just eat a small amount, ”she said.

James said a small amount of dessert is fine too, but go easy on the alcohol and, above all, eat mindfully and stop when no longer hungry. Eating less makes more room for leftovers.

“And go for a walk after dinner,” she said.

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