We rarely eat fruit snacks. It is so hard to find ones that are healthy and not filled with artificial dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and 5 other ingredients that I can’t pronounce.
Huffington Post’s article: What’s In Your Fruit Chews? highlights a few ingredients. You can also simply take a look at what’s in Nemo Fruit Snacks. Your average pack of fruit snacks is mostly sugar. Not quite the healthy snack. Plus, they throw in artificial food dye which is proven to cause hyperactivity in kids. People can argue with it all they want, but look at the research and the facts. Almost every modern country except the U.S. requires a hyperactivity warning label on foods containing artificial food dye. The research is also strong on Yellow 5 containing carcinogens. 100 Days of Real Food does a nice job outlining reasons to avoid artificial dyes. They also wrote on Finding (and Avoiding) Artificial Dyes and did a campaign about Kraft Mac and Cheese .
But back to fruit snacks. They are fun! Who denies their kids the joy of fruit snacks?!
I get it, I really do.
Yet when I compare the 2 second happiness of gobbling down a pack of fruit snacks with the happiness from eating good food and feeling energetic and ready to have fun…fruit snacks don’t seem so necessary.
Plus feeding Noah fruit snacks never worked. I remember feeding him Toy Story fruit snacks when he was around 2 years old. He ate them in 5 seconds, then screamed for more, then ate those in 5 seconds, screamed for more, was impossible to redirect and was hungry again in 10 minutes. Clearly not working.
I haven’t bought them in a long, long time. We do buy fruit leather. While the nutrition facts box shows sugar, it’s coming naturally from fruit, not corn syrup. We tend to buy Stretch Island, which is available at most grocery stores. I try to pay 33 cents or less for each one. I did buy Target’s brand of fruit leather awhile back. It was 10 cents each, so I stocked up.
I’ve been seeing fruit snack “recipes” popping up on Pinterest and a number of blogs that I follow. They use silicone molds to make the neat shapes.
My first attempt was a failure. I used juice and gelatin and honey. They tasted blah, like gelatin.
I combined a few different recipes to make our own. Mostly inspired by Sweet and Sour Gummy Snacks.
Fruit Snacks Redone
1 cup liquid (I use the juice of 2 lemons and then a strong colored fruit juice concentrate like grape.)
1 TB maple syrup
4 TB gelatin (I use Great Lakes, which has a lot of health benefits. I bought this through Amazon and have enough to last me a couple years.)
Whisk in saucepan over med-low heat until it starts to thicken. Pour into pan or silicone molds. Can be left on counter to set or placed in refrigerator or freezer to speed up hardening. Easy to pop out of the pan. Store at room temperature or in refrigerator.
I bought a LEGO silicone mold! (I go shopping down Michigan Avenue in Chicago. What do I buy? A Lego mold. Pretty sure this illustrates how my life revolves around kids and food.)
The kids loved them. Who doesn’t love biting the heads off of Lego men (or women)?
I’ve also done stars and gummi worms. Worms are made from pouring the mixture into a small glass or baking pan. Let it harden and then cut into strips.
Disclaimer: My kids DO eat commercial fruit snacks on occasion. If someone hands out fruit snacks at a party, Anna knows it is perfectly fine for her to eat the pack and enjoy it. She knows they are mostly sugar, but that it is okay to have treats like that every once in awhile. If Grandma offers Ethan a pack of fruit snacks, I am okay with it. We strive to make the best food choices that we can at home. If the 5% of the time when we are making food choices outside of our house are not ideal, that is okay.