When my daughter was little, I, like all good mothers, tried to incorporate healthy snacks into her diet. My goal was to keep her out of her great grandmother’s infamous “candy drawer.” You know what I’m talking about—that drawer with bags of M&Ms, Butterfingers, candy corn and chocolate covered peanuts. At Easter, you could find those bizarre speckled malted milk eggs that turned your lips white, peeps of all colors and big chocolate bunnies—usually solid.

To be fair, we all dipped into that drawer in my grandma’s bedroom. She delighted in our petty crimes. And more than once, I overheard my daughter and my grandma in deep conversations about life, love and justice while sharing a Russell Stover’s chocolate bunny or a “Bit O Honey.” Why would I interfere? Sweetness was happening on so many levels.

Thus, my job as the MOM, was to offer up better choices when I could. Bugs on a Log were celery stalks, filled with real organic peanut butter and dotted with natural raisins. I bet this sounds familiar—it is one of those time-tested popular treats, offering good taste and curb appeal—what kid wouldn’t want to eat bugs on a log?? It got lots of smiles and giggles. Easter eggs were real eggs dipped in messy dyes and plastered with little stickers and initials scrawled in wax pen.

When Easter rolled around this year, my daughter, as always, was expecting a homemade treat—my daughter is in her 40s now, by the way. Still, what a beautiful tradition, what a way to celebrate Grandma’s candy drawer.  So this year, I came up with a nut butter nugget, sweetened by dates and fresh orange and dotted with mini chocolate chips. A little bit of sinful with a whole lot of goodness. And they are not just for holiday fun; these are a great treat anytime, so think outside that basket: trail food, camping treats, midnight snack, afternoon pick-me-up…..you get the idea. Time to break out that processor!


Side by side image of candy making processI think you will find these little nutty candies a popular item on your own healthy-treat menu. The ingredients are simple and few. The process straightforward. Plus, these are gluten and grain free with low sugar, so an excellent alternative to that candy drawer. The only drawback, perhaps, is the sticky quality of the nugget. If this gives you trouble, you might try chilling the nugget prior to powdering and shaping. I didn’t do that, so not really sure how much it will speed up the shaping, but try it, if you have a little extra time. Be brave!


Nut Choices:

Nuts, like other healthy food choices can seem easy decisions; they are packed with protein, contain no sugar and are shelf stable to a large degree. But it takes a little research to make your nuts and dried fruits are as eco-friendly as they are healthy and kid friendly. I am lucky to have access to Tierra Farms nuts and fruits at my local health food store. Here is a bit of information about Tierra Farms and why I love their products:

Tierra Farm is a certified-organic manufacturer and distributor of nuts and dried fruits, located 20 miles south of Albany, New York. Our customers consist mainly of cooperatives and independently owned grocery stores which value working with an employee-owned, environmentally conscious company that manufactures its own products. 
 Tierra Farm started as a diversified organic vegetable farm in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The organic nuts and dried fruit portion of the business started in 1999 as a way to generate income in the slower winter months. That portion of the business continued to thrive into what it has become today, and we still maintain our original farm. 
One of our core values has been to cultivate strong relationships with the best organic farmers in the world. Every year, we purchase an increasing amount of our nuts, seeds, and dried fruit directly from the farms, some of which we have worked with for over a decade. Our level of knowledge and communication with our farmers allows us to preserve our organic integrity and ensure fair business practices throughout the supply chain.

I will say that the price tag on Tierra Farms products can be a bit higher than the less traceable, conventional brands. I’m well aware, therefore, that these can be a pricey treat—probably triple the price of those yellow peeps. So maybe the answer here is to follow some simple guidance on the word “treat.” A couple pieces after lunch or dinner as that special sweet bite, a couple afterschool nibbles to get us to dinnertime, a sweet end to the day at story time before we brush our teeth and tuck in under covers. These homemade candies contain high protein but low sugar, so they are much more satisfying than a bag of M&Ms. More money? Yes, but more value, too.

Looking for more healthy treats for upcoming summertime activities? Consider my gluten-free peanut butter “eggs,” my friend Sally’s Recovery Balls, or my yummy Date Bars.