Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Baskets Healthy Heather Style

I have a very distinct memory of a childhood Easter spent eating jelly beans and chocolate cream eggs until I was sick. My sister and I would take inventory of our Easter haul (lots of jelly beans, chocolate kisses, peanut butter eggs, and those terrible malt chocolate eggs), digging our fingers into the green plastic grass to find the little bits of sugar that had escaped us. We would sneak it into church and munch on it all day. She would always make her candy last at least a week or more. Mine was gone in a day. I had absolutely no self-control when it came to candy, which is part of the reason I am sugar-free now. I know my limits, and life is too short to spend my time fighting them.

Now I have my own two kids, one of which is completely oblivious to holidays and their associated candy, and one who is all too aware and has already listed out everything he hopes to find on Sunday morning. But as a mother who knows well the affect of all that sugar, I have the responsibility of striking a balance between the two.

Chocolate is not taboo in my house, but it does come with a rule: it must be good chocolate. If I'm going to give my kids sweets, its going to be a real treat, something they can learn to appreciate. So, yes, there will be candy on Easter morning. But instead of loading up your kids with jelly beans, peanut butter eggs, and (shudder) that horrible travesty of food technology, Dippin' Sticks, give these sugar-free ideas a try. They'll last a lot longer than the sugar rush that will drive you crazy by 10:00 am.

If you fill eggs and hide them around the house why not fill them with...
  • pennies and other small change (and if you are really pious, they can put it in the collection plate at church!)
  • temporary tattoos
  • stickers  
  • confetti 
  • balloons
If you want to give your kids a sweet treat, how about...
  • Annie's Homegrown Chocolate Chipper granola bars
  • Their favorite fruit in a fun way - freeze dried is always good for a laugh!
  • A small high-quality chocolate bunny. Its never too early to teach the value of good chocolate!
If you want to give a gift but don't want a bunch of dollar-bin stuff cluttering up your house, maybe try...
  • seed packets and kid-sized gardening tools
  • punching balloons
  • art supplies and a new sketch pad (always a hit at my house!)
  • coupons for trips to their favorite playground, museum, or time spent playing a video game. Minecraft, anyone?
Easter is a beautiful holiday, but I'd rather spend it admiring my children as they play and laugh together, not sending people to time out because all the candy I gave them turned them into little monsters. I can't say my house will be a candy-free zone on Sunday morning, but I'm looking forward to the Easter bunny filling our baskets with more substance than sugar.

Get out there and get healthy this weekend...even if that means your kids don't have the same Easter morning that you did (they'll thank you later).

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sunbutter Sandwiches

I'm always on the lookout for new ways to get nutritious food into my kids, and this week its been Sunbutter sandwiches! I discovered it when dropping my son off at daycare and seeing that another parent had jotted down a note that their child had a "sunbutter" sandwich in their lunch and that it was allergen-free. Since so many kids are allergic to nuts, peanut butter is a no-no at many schools. 

I got to Googling, and there it was: sunflower seed butter! It was pricey at $6 for a jar about the size of a jar of peanut butter but I was so curious that I bought it anyway. Visions of my children happily eating something new (and finally be able to make pb&j...or sb&j, rather....sandwiches again was a blessed relief).

The verdict: I love it! My older son loves it. And thinks its hilarious for some reason. The baby is skeptical and hasn't tried it yet. But, sunbutter and banana sandwiches have become my go-to pre-Insanity workout snack.

Sunbutter is actually a brand name product, but you can find other sunflower seed butters online. The only downside to Sunbutter is that there is added sugar. I bought it because I was too impatient to order anything, but I have ordered some organic sunflower seed butter that doesn't have added sugar and will let you know what I think when it comes in!

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects that result in the reduction of symptoms in asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. They are also rich in magnesium and selenium. 

Have you tried sunflower seed butter? Do you recommend any particular brands? Share your experiences and recipes in a comment!

Get out there and get healthy today...with a sunbutter sandwich and an Insanity workout. :)