Though fruit snacks contain the word fruit, they are a poor substitute for a healthier snack. In fact, due to their high sugar content, they are no better than giving your child (or yourself!) a piece of candy. Make fruit snacks a special treat — and before you buy them, check their labels to avoid these fruit snack no-nos.
Artificial colors & flavors
Sugar & high-fructose corn syrup
Kids love fruit snacks because they are sweet — which is no surprise when you consider their high levels of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup or both. Some packages contain a whopping 19g sugar per serving. The carbohydrates in fruit snacks are typically of the sugar variety.
Trans fats/partially hydrogenated oils
Many fruit snacks claim to be fat free. Read the labels and steer clear of those that contain unhealthy partially hydrogenated oil and trans fats.
Lots of ingredients
Usually, the more ingredients a product has, the unhealthier it is… especially if you can’t pronounce them. Say no to fruit snacks with a long laundry list of ingredients.
occasional treats — not nutrition staples
Fruit snacks should be treated as snacks (as the name implies) or as treats — not as a replacement for actual fruit. Experts suggest fruit leather (such as that found in health food stores) as a healthier alternative to sugary, artificially colored and flavored fruit snacks. Check the label to ensure they contain 100-percent dried fruit and juices.
What to look for
While fruit snack packages scream that they are fat free, gluten free and contain vitamin C, don’t be fooled. Look at the label and consider only fruit snacks that contain — drum roll, please — real fruit.
FRUIT LEATHER RECIPE
If you are feeling inspired to ban the packaged fruit snacks from your home, consider making your own fruit leather. Bonus: If you get your kids in on the fun, they’ll love the leather even more than those processed, packaged fruit snacks.
- 4 cups fresh fruit, rinsed, pitted, cored, de-stemmed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar
- 1/2 cup water
- Add water and fruit to large stock pot.
- Simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes on low until fruit is completely cooked through.
- Add lemon juice and honey or agave nectar, and mash.
- Continue to simmer until the fruit mixture thickens.
- Puree in a food processor.
- Spread puree onto a baking sheet covered with waxed paper.
- Bake at 140 degrees for 8 to 10 hours.
- The fruit leather is done when it is dried out and pulls away easily from the waxed paper.
- Cut into strips, wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and store in refrigerator.