OK, lets all face the truth – our kids love to eat fruit snacks and if you are anything like me you cringe at the thought of buying them because most of the brands we find on the shelves at our local supermarkets are loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and do I even need to point-out, tons of artificial colorings -- come on, where does neon blue “naturally” occur in nature?!!
Some of you might feel that these “fruit flavored snacks” might be a harmless treat, but putting aside the issues that surround HFCS and hydrogenated oils for a moment, there is also now growing concern that the artificial colorings and preservatives found in many of these fruit snacks as well as many other packaged goods that appeal to our children might be linked to hyperactivity. A study conducted in the United Kingdom found that color additives Yellow No. 5, Yellow No. 6, Red No. 40 and sodium benzoate, which are all commonly found in our food products, might cause hyperactivity in kids. While more information and research needs to be gathered, I’ve always played by the rule that if I can find healthier alternatives to replace these questionable products with, I’d rather play on the safe side of the street to safeguard my children’s health in the long run. So in an attempt to please these childhood indulgences (and maintain their good social standing) I’ve tried to find the “healthiest” versions of these lunchbox staples without completely compromising my children's good health. While I’ve had some good luck with the Fruitabu brand in the past and the Trader Joe’s all-fruit leathers, I’ve recently discovered two new fruit snacks that my kids both seem to prefer because of their good taste and the fact that they look more like a traditional fruit snack (again, back to that social component).
Annie’s Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks - The last time I was shopping at Target I happened upon a new product by the Annie’s Homegrown line of products. These new fruit snacks are certified organic, made with real fruit (yes, they also contain organic sugar), naturally colored with purple carrot juice and contain no preservatives. My kids really enjoyed the fruit flavor and texture of these fruit snacks – not to mention, the fruit snacks are shaped like bunnies. We’ve tried the Berry Patch. Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks also comes in a Tropical flavor.
Florida’s Natural Nuggets and Fruit Stiks - I’ve actually been using these awhile. Again, I found Florida’s Natural on one of many trips to Target (I can’t seem to find these in the grocery store). Like Annie’s, these fruit snacks are all-natural and contain a combination of fruit juice and natural fruit flavors (orange, strawberry and blueberry). In fact the nuggets are made with 66% real juices and fruit and the Fruit Stiks are made with 90% real juice and fruit. Similarly to Annie’s, Florida’s Natural gets it coloring from purple carrot extract and contains no gelatine. Each Florida’s Natural box contains a mix of strawberry, orange and blueberry single pack nuggets or fruit leathers. My children (and husband) really enjoy the flavor of these snacks and in fact have stopped asking for those other brands I’m a little less comfortable buying.
While obviously these are not designed to replace fruit, it is nice to have a few healthier options to turn to that allow your kids to feel like one of the kids without making you feel uncomfortable about giving them something you are just not too sure about.