Many families across the United States will soon be celebrating Easter and partaking in the fun activities associated with the holiday. This often includes egg hunts, especially for those families with young children. My daughter has participated in many of these and it is not uncommon for her to bring home lots of junk food that she doesn’t even like.
While we appreciate the occasional sweet treat, it seems that every celebration is overloaded with junk food; Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day parades, Labor Day parades, Fourth of July parades, Halloween, Easter, birthdays…the list goes on. This year, why not try something new? Below are some food and non-food items to consider using for filling traditional plastic colored Easter eggs.
- Dark chocolate. If you are going to spend your money on candy, then go all out and get good quality candy like dark chocolate. Choose chocolate that is 70 percent or more cacao. Dark chocolate contains beneficial antioxidants and other healthy substances while providing something sweet and delicious to enjoy.
- Nature’s candy. Mini boxes of raisins or individually wrapped prunes are a wonderful treat for many kids who like chewy sweet treats. Before you laugh at the suggestion of prunes, try it. You will be amazed by how many kids like them, especially if you call them (dried) plums. You may also want to use a few dark chocolate or yogurt-covered raisins as an extra treat.
- Nuts. If nut allergies are not a concern, consider filling the eggs with nuts. You can buy a variety of them in a variety of flavors, such as salted, cocoa dusted or mixed. You can also consider mixing in some dark chocolate covered almonds, cashews or peanuts (see dark chocolate recommendation).
- Crackers. Goldfish or bunny-shaped cheese crackers seem to be a favorite with kids. Animal crackers or graham cracker animal cookies can also be used instead of candy. Although these crackers are not very nutrient dense, they also don’t contain as much sugar as candy.
- Stickers. For some reason, kids LOVE stickers. Do not be shy about filling those eggs with non-food items. You would be surprised at how much the kids prefer trinkets over junk food.
- Bouncy balls. Small colorful bouncy balls are a hit among kids. You can purchase them at a dollar store or buy them in bulk from a catalog at very reasonable prices. With small children, please be aware that these may pose a choking hazard.
- Jump ropes. Although you may need to get bigger plastic eggs to fit these, jump ropes are an inexpensive and wonderful way to encourage physical activity for kids.
- Chalk. Who doesn’t enjoy having some fun with chalk? Many companies make different shaped and colored chalk that is perfect for stuffing in plastic eggs.
- Clay. Instead of filling those eggs with candy, fill them with moldable play clay or play dough instead. Silly Putty is also a lot of fun.
- Hair clips or hair bands. For the girlie girls in the group, cute hair accessories may have them feeling “glammed up” for the rest of the day.
- Toy cars. All kids (not just boys) enjoy these!
- Money. A quarter or a dollar coin may be just the thing to get kids excited, especially the very young ones.
These are just some suggestions for egg-fillers. Of course, you could just bypass these and hide real hard-boiled eggs (just make sure you find them all!).
Alternatively, you could hide other things and make the whole experience into a treasure hunt, with clues the kids have to figure out to find the object of their desire. You could then let your imagination soar and hide all kinds of fun things such as: jump ropes, hula hoops, books, coloring supplies (crayons, colored pencils, markers, sketch books), balls, puzzles, gift cards, games (checkers, chess, backgammon), nail polish, lip balms, Frisbees, dolls and other character figures.
Keep in mind these celebrations are about enjoying the festivities, friends and family and the fun. It is not about the food, per se, or the food treats.
Feel free to post your own healthy Easter egg suggestions. Happy April!