Easter candy: Are there any healthy choices?

If the Easter Bunny visits your house, you may be wondering what kind of candy he will bring. By nature, all candy contains sugar, and maybe preservatives, artificial colorings, and/or unhealthy fats. But thankfully, some kinds are a smidgen healthier than others.

If candy is part of your Easter plans, here are my “a little-bit-better-for-you” ideas for older children and adults:

PayDay® bars have peanuts as the first ingredient, not sugar. They have no artificial dyes and the snack size bars have less than 100 calories each.


Goobers® contain peanuts, too, although milk chocolate is the first ingredient. The label boasts 5 grams of protein per ¼ cup serving. They also contain real cocoa, unlike some chocolates.

Raisinets® get some of their sweetness from raisins (yay, fruit!) Again, they contain cocoa.

Hershey’s® kisses® and Hershey’s ®Milk Chocolate Eggs™ are packaged in child-sized portions, with only about 25 calories per piece.

A few traditional Easter sweets contain sugar and corn syrup as the first two ingredients: jelly beans and colored marshmallow animals. One kind of jelly beans I checked listed 10 dyes in the ingredients. Yikes! Any artificially colored candies contain dyes, so even though they’re pretty to the eyes, they are not healthy. When in doubt, read the ingredients list.

Beth Bence Reinke, MS, RD (registered dietitian)


CAUTION: As noted above, these candy suggestions are for older children. Keep in mind that nuts, raisins and small, hard or chewy candies are choking hazards for babies, toddlers and even some preschoolers. These foods may be dangerous for any child whose ability to chew and swallow are not completely developed. In addition, anyone with food allergies must check product labels carefully. And to avoid cavities, kids should brush their teeth after eating candy.  

And of course, a disclaimer: I have no connections to the candy companies represented and these opinions are my own.

Teachable Moments: Lost and Found Bunny

My daughter’s independence-driven, unsupervised bedtime routine went smoothly. Bath? Done. Jammies? Check. Bedtime snack? Finished. She even helped herself to a drink from the refrigerator without spilling!

Marching proudly upstairs to bed she climbed under the covers. I settled in next to her and started reading from Little House on the Prairie when suddenly, panic rolled over her little face.

“My bunny! Bunny is gone!” she cried with big tears rolling down her little pink cheeks.

“Where is she?” I asked.

“I don’t know. She’s just gone!” she sobbed.

Calling for bunny like she was a beloved family pet, our family’s frantic search began. We searched the bathroom, under the bed, the closet, her dresser, laundry piles, behind the couch, and even in the garbage. EVERYWHERE! No Bunny.

“Oh, dear God please help us find Bunny! Please!” I prayed.

“Did you have Bunny when you poured yourself a drink?” I asked.

She thought a minute and shook her head “yes” and flung open the refrigerator door.

Bunny sat chillin’ on the top shelf next to the juice carton staring back at her with a frozen smile.

“You silly little bunny!” she exclaimed snatching lost-and-found Bunny off the shelf.

I’m especially fond of this memory because God taught our family three things:

  • No concern is too small for God. Although our children feel small, they need to know that if something’s important to them, it’s important to God, too.
  • God shows up ̶ present and alive–when we call on His name. Teaching our children to pray, even in the small things, allows them to see God at work in their lives.
  • When we’re lost, God stops everything to look for us. Seizing these teachable moments helps children tangibly grasp God’s love for them.

Kindness is Contagious

Where I live in South Florida, drivers are not known for being kind. Whenever I back out of my driveway, I know it will only be a matter of time before someone will cut me off or honk at me. Every once in a while, however, a kind driver motions for me to merge into the long line of traffic and allows me to cut in front of her. Aaaah! The endorphines rush through my body, and  I can’t wait to extend the favor to another driver. Why? Because kindness is contagious!

This is a concept that needs to be taught to children at an early age. Toddlers are not known for being kind and genreous. They want what they want when they want it. Then need to be taught how to share and honor others because it does not come naturally.

Kindness is contagious is the idea being my book The Boy on The Yellow Bus. The story begins with Sam, a new boy in town, boarding the yellow school bus and wondering where he will sit. When a young boy offers to share his seat with Sam, Sam is grateful and a chain reaction of kindness begins. Sam then helps Sue, who dropped her lunch box in the mud. Then Sue shares her lunch with Brian, and Brian sticks up for Kim on the playgound, and Kim helps her mother after school.  And that’s the way the whole day went—and that’s how kindness starts. When someone cares and someone gives it blesses people’s hearts.

The next few pages remind us that we should be kind and share because that is what God wants us to do. Another good reminder is included in a verse that says: Sometimes people never see the good things that you do. But God sees every single time and He is pleased with you.

Picture books are a great way to teach children many of life’s lessons. They give concrete examples and visual lessons in an enjoyable and entertaining format. And when the stories help little ones learn more about how God wants us to live–it all has a greater purpose.

The best way to teach your children to be kind is to model it. So when you are out and about today, let someone cut in the long line of traffic and start a chain reaction of kindess.

Love your little ones. Pray with them. And read every day.



What Are They Thinking?

Have you ever walked in on a mess involving your child and asked, “What were you thinking?

Your little girl may be the spitting image of her mother. Your little boy may be a chip off his father’s block. But children are not just little versions of adults. And that goes for the way they think, too.

Jean Piaget  was one of the first to systematically study children’s cognitive development. Before Piaget, most people believed that children thought like adults, but because of their age, they just weren’t as good at it.

Piaget concluded there are four stages of development:

1.  Sensorimotor

From birth to approximately 2 years old, children learn through trial and error.

 2.  Preoperational

From approximately 2 through 7 years old, children begin to use language to communicate. They also use begin to use their imagination. But at this stage they do not yet clearly understand cause-and-effect, and they struggle with logic. Children in this stage are often egocentric. Their approach to life is “It’s all about me.”

 3.  Concrete operational

School-age children through approximately 11 years old begin to learn logic. They have an increased awareness of external events and they are beginning to process abstract ideas.

4.  Formal operational

Children 11 years and older, entering adolescence, have the potential for moral reasoning. They are developing the ability to process abstract logic and they can understand cause-and-effect relationships.

Why should these stages matter to us?

As we work with children (our own or others), we want to teach them in ways they can understand. For example:

– Preschoolers learn through exposure to shapes, textures, colors, sounds, and above all, doing. Their play is learning.

– Children 2 through 7 need to be continuously encouraged to think of others.

– Children aged 7 through 11 are beginning to process theological concepts such as the truths that we are made in the image of God or that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

– Adolescents and teens need to be taught a biblical worldview of themselves, their family, and how to view their culture.

 Leading and teaching children requires us to know, not just what they are thinking, but how they are thinking!

Why Do We Celebrate Easter? by Mark Sutherland

■Title: Why Do We Celebrate Easter?
■Author: Mark Sutherland
■Illustrator: Julie Hammond
■ISBN: 978-0983236306
■SRP: $9.99
■Reviewed By: Cheryl Malandrinos

Rating:  :) :) :) :) :)

In this beautifully illustrated story, children learn that God had planned Easter a long, long time ago–even before the world was created. The book swiftly moves along from creation and the Fall of Man, to the birth of Jesus, His ministry, the Last Supper, Jesus’ death and his glorious Resurrection.

Sutherland did an excellent job of providing young readers with a book that explains the Easter story in greater depth than many books do. The explanations provided by the author will be helpful in assisting readers to grasp the full message.

The book opens by asking the reader, “Do you ever wonder what Easter is all about?” Immediately the author works to engage the reader. This is a nice style, and one I think young readers will enjoy.

Julie Hammond’s artwork is lovely. The soft, warm colors keep with the peaceful tone of the book.

The only criticism is that I felt the book would end on a more powerful note without the last page. The second to the last page talks about how we become Jesus’ friends by believing He is God and that He died and rose again as payment for our sins. The final page acts like a summary of the entire book, and ends with the words, “And that’s why we celebrate Easter.” I truly felt that last page deflated the strong words of the page before it.

That aside, Why Do We Celebrate Easter? by Mark Sutherland is a great way to share the Easter story with the child in your life.

I received a free electronic copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinions. I received no monetary compensation to provide my review.