Prior to writing this post, I did a bit of research online to see what I would find when using the keywords “healthy fruit snack options”. I have to admit, I was less than impressed. Many of the options highlighted, while they did contain real fruit juices and some even real fruit colors, they also contained added sugar in various forms, preservatives, less than stellar vegetable oils and other “artificial or natural flavors” which I was left to wonder about. That said, while there are certainly worse things our children, and for that matter, we can be consuming, I still also believe that we can do better for all of us without spending an exhaustive amount of time or energy. There are truly “healthy” fruit snack options out there that not only taste delicious, but serve our bodies as real, whole foods should as well.
So first things first, while we are talking about “real, whole foods”, I’m just going to throw it out there that the absolute best alternative to traditional fruit snacks hands down is pure and simple – it’s fresh fruit! (And vegetables too, for that matter). Not only does fresh produce provide our bodies with a whole host of nutrients and benefits, but it also provides children with a much wider array of tastes and textures as they grow and explore. However, I recognize there are times when it can be a) fun to indulge in something more like the traditional “fruit snacks” we see in our stores, and b) even necessary to need a more shelf-stable option. That said, the following are a list of some of my favorite recipes and store bought options if you are looking to make the switch to something fruity without the added sugars, colors, preservatives, etc. We’re talking just the real deal here, folks.
Homemade Gummy Snacks
Making our own gummy “Fruit Snacks” has been something we’ve enjoyed since Asher was a babe. The fun part is, unlike purchasing them from the store, you can really create just about any combination of fruits and/or vegetables that your heart desires. And most of the time it only requires two ingredients on your end – fresh produce and/or 100% juice and gelatin. That’s it!
The following are some of our favorite homemade Gummy Snack recipes:
- Real Food Whole Life – 2 Ingredient Fruit Juice Gummies: This provides a basic recipe you can use with just about any fruit/vegetable juice to make your gummies. I used this recipe for the ones pictured above and Trader Joes’ “The Power of 7- Organic Juice Blend” as my base.
- Joy Food Sunshine – Healthy Homemade Fruit Snacks: If you are looking to make your gummies with whole fruit and veggies, this post has got you covered with combos like grapes and spinach to blueberries and zucchini!
- Meatified – Sour Watermelon Homemade Gummies: Love a little sour twist to your gummies? This recipe (and a little lemon juice) has got you covered.
- NaturePedic – Kid Friendly Fruit Snack Recipe: This recipe uses coconut milk combined with strawberries to give you a sweet and creamy gummy snack!
- Savory Lotus – Immune Boosting Elderberry Gummy Bears: Tasty and immune boosting? Sign me up! These Elderberry Gummy Bears check these boxes and are a favorite for cold & flu season.
Homemade Gummy Snacks can certainly fill the “fun” tank as you can create them in just about any shape your little one desires. Our go-to mold that we used for animals you see above is this silicone set from The Silly Pops. However, we love using a variety of others to match the season, etc. as well.
While DIY Gummy Snacks are the most versatile when it comes to design, it is important to note that unlike those you buy at the store they do need to be refrigerated and are usually best if used within a few days. We usually gobble them up easily in that time frame, but if you are looking for a more shelf-stable option, then the following ideas may be more up your alley.
Homemade Fruit Leather
Anyone else love Fruit-by-the-Foot as a kid? I sure did. And while I could have gobbled one down on the daily, what I did not recognize then that I now know is that it was basically a foot filled with a very minuscule amount of fruit and a whole lot of sugar, dyes and junk. Yikes. No thanks. Luckily, making your own fruit rolls at home is incredibly simple, and you are the one in charge of the ingredients list.
The following are some homemade fruit leather recipes we love:
- Bren Did – Wild Plum Fruit Leather Using No Refined Sugar: We are currently in plum season, and thus have been snagging them every chance we get. We used a few combined with apples and water to create the recipe you see pictured in the image above.
- The Natural Nurturer- 3-Ingredient Strawberry Beet Fruit Leather: Beets are one thing I hear a lot of parents asking about how to incorporate into their child’s diet. Warm them up to the taste and the idea with this veggie-loaded recipe.
- Wellness Mama- How to Make SCOBY Fruit Leather: Okay truth be told, I haven’t tried this one – but I am dying to! For those of you that brew your own kombucha, you can now use your extra SCOBY’s to make this probiotic-rich treat!
Most fruit leather can be stored in the pantry or the refrigerator, making it a longer lasting alternative to the Gummy Snacks above. While the process to put it together is just as simple, make note that because it must be dehydrated, it can take several hours in the oven until its ready. It’s fairly hands free once it goes in, but you will want to plan accordingly.
Does your little one enjoy raisins? What about prunes, dates or apricots? Dried fruit can give kids that same “gummy” texture of fruit snacks, but without the added ingredients. The best part is, it is easily accessible at most supermarkets. You just want to make sure that whatever it is you chose, particularly if it comes in a package, that the manufacturer didn’t sneak anything else in there. You’d be surprised how many times, you guessed it – sugar – is added in the mix. If it looks like it is coated in sugar, steer clear. And even when it doesn’t, be sure to check the ingredients list.
Dried fruit (and vegetables) can easily be made at home as well. And similar to fruit leather, they are a more shelf-stable alternative. Looking to give this a whirl yourself? Head to Simple Eats – Delicious Homemade Dried Fruit post for more info on how to do so.
Store-Bought Fruit Snacks
While my first go-to is to make our snacks at home, as it can certainly give us more bang for our buck and more control over the ingredients, there are a few companies that make store-bought fruit snacks that are pretty on point if you are out looking for them. The following are ones that include all the goods and no BS:
- Bear Yo-Yos: These roll up type snacks contain fruit, veggies and even superfoods like spirulina.
- Little Duck Organics Organic Pressed Fruit Snacks: These gummies are packed with organic fruits and veggies, and some varieties even had an added probiotic punch.
- Wild Made Fruit Rolls: These fruit leathers contain 1/2 a serving of real fruit in every roll – and that’s it!
- Stretch Island: This company may have the most diverse array of options offering fruit gummies, leathers and strips in a variety of flavors all with no added sugar.
- Kind Snacks Fruit Bites: I love that these snacks tell you exactly what went into them on the front of the package. For instance: 1 Strawberry, 2 Cherries, 3/4 Apple = A whole bag of realness!
And a little word of caution – Just because fruit snacks are labeled “organic” does not mean they are free from all of those ingredients I listed at the beginning of this post. Some of the most popular ones, in fact, still contain added sugar. So I’ve said it before, and I’ll said it again, be an avid label reader friends.
Alright, I think that’s about covered it! Any questions, feel free to leave a comment. Any suggestions to add to the list? I’d love to hear them there too. Happy snacking!