Okay, you might have already noticed that this is not a post about filling your child’s Easter basket with tangerines and baby carrots — or for that matter, non-edible items like toys and trinkets — in the place of candy. Not that there’s anything wrong with those things; they are all great ideas! But this is about identifying relatively “healthier” versions of traditional Easter candy, for those who want to indulge a little (even if it’s just one day a year).
Many of us have fond memories attached to treats like Cadbury or Reese’s eggs, Peeps and those cute chocolate bunnies, and even if we’ve made a conscious choice to no longer consume junk foods or most manufactured candies, it’s still nice to feel like we have a few options to indulge in once in a while.
So here are some of my favorite Easter basket treat alternatives. These options are all gluten-free and grain-free, plus free of artificial colors, additives, and GMO ingredients. They include some alternatives for those who have food allergies or are on specialized diets, such as Paleo, vegan or GAPS. Most of them do contain sugar (with the exception of one), but only in organic or natural forms (that being said, whether the sugar represented in this bunch is organic and/or natural, it’s still sugar and should be consumed moderately and as a once-in-a-while treat.)
Divided into two parts, section one of Healthier Easter Candy Alternatives focuses on store-bought options, while section two features wholesome, healthy make-at-home recipes. And now, on to the list!
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Healthier Easter Candy Store-Bought Treats
If you’re looking for something quick, easy and ready-to-go, check out these convenient store-bought healthier Easter candy options. I find most of these at my local Sprouts or Whole Foods, or by ordering online:
1. Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Eggs (gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free, vegan)
I’ve raved about Equal Exchange many times and for good reason: these solid chocolate eggs are not only delicious, they’re vegan (i.e. dairy-free), soy-free, gluten-free, 100% organic, and fair-trade. Oh yeah, and they’re yummy too. Seriously, they’re perfection in a tiny blue wrapper.
2. Sun Cups Dark Chocolate Sunflower Butter Cups (gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free)
Reminiscent of those famous peanut butter cups (one of my favorite commercial candies), these are made with sunflower seed butter (in the place of peanut butter), making them nut-free. They are also gluten-free, soy-free, and non-GMO, consisting of a relatively wholesome list of ingredients. These decadent chocolate-wrapped treats pack a punch of irresistible flavor.
3. Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Bears (gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegan)
Usually gummy candies are filled with all sorts of undesirable ingredients, like corn syrup, artificial colors and carnuba wax (ick). These fruity bears not only are free of all these vices, they also contain the most impressive list of ingredients I’ve been able to find in a commercial gummy product. Made with mostly organic ingredients (including organic fruit juice), these little guys are also dairy/casein-free, vegan, gluten-free, soy free, and non-GMO (plus they pack in 100% daily serving of vitamin C). I’m not the biggest gummy or candy fan (I’m all about the chocolate), but Jeremy is a gummy expert and has given this healthier version his stamp of approval.
4. YumEarth Organic Lollipops (gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegan)
These tasty little suckers are free of artificial colors and made from organic real fruit extracts. Like the Surf Sweets Organic Fruity Bears, they are also vegan and free of soy, gluten, and dairy, plus they provide 100% daily serving of vitamin C.
5. Hail Merry Miracle Tarts (Paleo, vegan, raw)
These little tarts (or mini pies) are amazing. It’s very difficult to find pre-made, commercial Paleo treats, let alone ones that taste this good. They are made from wholesome, nutritious ingredients, such as coconut oil, almond flour and maple syrup, making them grain-free and dairy-free, plus they happen to be vegan too! There are several flavors available, but our household favorites are chocolate, chocolate raw almond butter, and coconut vanilla creme (these are the three flavors I’ve tried and can verify are Paleo). One note: they do need to be refrigerated, as they are made of raw ingredients (including raw chocolate, so if you’re sensitive to raw chocolate — like me — be aware). I find mine at my local Whole Foods which is great, because I imagine that online ordering would be rather expensive for a refrigerated product. (Thanks to my friend, Vicki, for introducing these special treats to me!)
Healthier Easter Candy Homemade Treats
If you’re looking for even healthier Easter treats where you have complete control over each ingredient used, check out these fantastic recipe ideas:
6. Paleo Easter Eggs from Ditch the Carbs (Paleo, vegan, sugar-free, nut-free)
Not only are these adorable treats made with wholesome, Paleo and vegan ingredients, but they are sweetened strictly with stevia. This is a special find, especially for those trying to avoid all forms of sugar. While most Paleo dessert recipes utilize sugars like honey or maple syrup, this recipe is completely sugar-free (and no doubt, delicious too).
7. Paleo Jello Shapes from Against All Grain (Paleo)
With just two wholesome ingredients, these little treats are a fun and healthy way to avoid the often alarming ingredients that come along with commercial gummy candies.
8. Paleo Reese’s Eggs from Taylor Made It Paleo (Paleo, vegan, nut-free)
These scrumptious-looking Paleo treats are made with only six clean ingredients. In addition, they are made with sunflower seed butter instead of nut butter, making them perfect for those with nut allergies.
9. Homemade Honey Peeps from Gutsy (Paleo, GAPS)
This cute recreation of the famous Easter-time candy is creatively healthy. This recipe is not only Paleo-friendly, but also approved for those on the GAPS diet.
10. Mandarin Chocolate Truffles from Against All Grain (Paleo, vegan option, nut-free)
These little bites are undeniably decadent, beautiful and Paleo-approved. Yes, please!