My husband and I have been on a mission to find fruit snacks that are free of high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring. Have you noticed Red #40 is in almost everything these days? Even things that are not red! And Yellow #5 and other dyes have been in the news a lot lately as well. If you do a little research on these dyes, you’ll want to limit them where you can. Between M&Ms, cereals, birthday cakes, juices and yogurt…it’s everywhere. So when we can, we choose something all natural or organic. (I realize “all natural” is a loose term. Just read the ingredients and decide for yourself.) Our pantry is not 100% organic or all natural, but we try to make better choices as often as we can (and can afford).
For my girls, some organic fruit snacks, such as Florida’s Natural Organic Nuggets (sold at Target, Wal-Mart) are just too different than the typical fruit snacks. My kids want the same basic fruit snacks as their peers. The ones you see most often, made by Kelloggs and Welch’s, unfortunately contain some of the things we’re trying to avoid.
We have found the best to be Mott’s Medleys Fruit/Veggie snacks. They are soooo good!! The girls love them, and they meet our criteria for safe and healthy.
Another fruit snack my girls love – and that we approve of – is Cliff Kid ZFruit ropes. My pickiest eater loves them. I find the best deal on these at Target. They’re on sale there pretty often, whereas at Kroger they are too expensive.
Another fruit snack we like is 365 Everyday brand fruit strips (Whole Foods’ store brand). We only buy these when they’re on sale. Otherwise, it’s not a must-have for our pantry. Tip: When you shop at Whole Foods with your kids, there is a wagon just in front of the checkout lane where your kids can choose a snack. These fruit strips are almost always in there.
Target’s Simply Balanced brand makes a similar fruit strip to the one above, and my girls like them a lot. They’re on sale often. They’re very sweet and sticky, but a yummy treat.
My kids are picky, so the fact that they like such a wide variety of fruit snacks is a big deal! And I like being able to alternate between fruit ropes, fruit snacks and fruit strips, so I’m not giving them the same thing every single day.
Yesterday I came across an article about making your own fruit leather. I would assume the results would be very similar to the Whole Foods (365 brand) fruit strips, which are more “leathery” than the Simply Balanced ones, which are soft and sticky. It actually sounds fairly easy to make, and they’ve included a recipe for fruit-yogurt leather as well. Once you make the fruit puree, all you need is a silcone mat (which I don’t own…but I may need to buy one! I see them used all the time on Chopped (Food Network TV show).
I understand that buying organic or even all natural can be expensive. I have found that fruit snacks (especially the Mott’s Medley’s Fruit/Veggie ones) are not expensive at all. A dollar more, maybe. Worth every penny for lunch boxes or quick snacks.