snacks

Homemade Grape Fruit Leather

by Sally on November 12, 2014

One Ingredient Grape Fruit Leather from Real Mom NutritionFruit Roll-Ups are a regular fixture on the kid circuit, showing up at soccer games, parties, and even school snack time. But most of them have multiple added sweeteners, oil, synthetic dyes, and juice concentrate instead of actual fruit.

So I make my own in the oven as an occasional treat. I’ve tried all kinds of fruit, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and apples. I typically use a combination of fruit, lemon juice, and sugar. (Get my recipes for Strawberry Fruit Leather and Apple Cinnamon Fruit Leather).

As a Grapes From California Blogger Ambassador, I’ve spent time tooling around their recipe page. They already have a recipe for grape fruit leathers. But I wondered: Since grapes have such an intense, natural sweetness, could you skip the added sugar completely? I tried it, and it worked! Then I made a second batch without lemon, and my kids gave it the coveted double thumbs-up.

A one-ingredient recipe. Can’t beat that.

But I’m not going to sugar-coat it: Making homemade fruit leather can be tricky. And sometimes sticky. Whenever I post about fruit leathers here or on my Real Mom Nutrition Facebook page, I hear from at least one frustrated reader whose fruit leather flopped. So if you want to try your hand at homemade fruit leather, keep in mind my four top tips:

1. Use a Silpat. I know some people make fruit leather on parchment, but a Silpat baking mat is ideal for the job. I’ve had my Silpats for more than a decade and they’ve held up well. If you do a lot of baking, it’s definitely worth having.

2. Make it even. This is key. It helps ensure that your edges aren’t crispy while your middle’s still gooey. Use a spatula to spread your mixture on the Silpat. Then, holding the pan at each end, bang the pan on the counter a couple of times to evenly distribute the mixture across the baking mat.

3. Peek. A lot. Once the leather has been baking for about two hours, start checking it every 15 minutes or so. Depending on your oven and the thickness of your mixture, the total baking time may be more than three hours. The leather is ready when it still feels a little tacky but doesn’t come off on your finger when you touch it.

4. Don’t expect perfection. Some batches turn out better than others. Sometimes you’ll have a thick spot that just won’t dry. That’s okay. There’s a reason homemade leathers don’t look like the boxed kind, but in my book, that’s a trade-off worth making!

Homemade Grape Fruit Leather
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh seedless grapes, rinsed and removed from stems
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (or the lowest your oven will go).
  2. Puree grapes in a blender until completely smooth.
  3. Pour into a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Spread mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a Silpat baking mat. Holding the pan firmly at each end, bang the pan on the counter to be sure the mixture is evenly distributed across the Silpat.
  5. Bake for 2-4 hours, checking frequently. The fruit leather is done when it’s sticky but doesn’t come off on your finger when lightly touched. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Cut into strips (a pizza cutter works great for this job) and place on parchment or waxed paper. Cut paper into strips and roll up.
  7. Store in airtight container for up to three days or in refrigerator for up to one week.

Disclosures: I’m happy to be working with Grapes from California as a Blogger Ambassador. I am compensated for my time. All opinions expressed are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through this link, your cost will be the same, but I will receive a small commission to help with operating costs of this blog. Thanks for your support!

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20 Healthy Team Snacks for Kids

by Sally on September 9, 2014

20 Fruit & Veggie Team Snacks

Leaves are falling. Soccer balls are flying. Naturally, my thoughts turn to healthy team snacks.

Since I first voiced my frustration over junky soccer snacks a few years ago (read Soccer Mom Soapbox), I’ve advocated for fruit-and-water team snacks. I’ve also made the case for simply eliminating the team snack altogether (read The End of Soccer Snacks?). Young children playing an hour or less of soccer aren’t typically exerting themselves to a degree that warrants much of a snack, much less a sports drink (or a large frosted cupcake). Most of them are better off going home for a healthy lunch or dinner.

But some coaches and parents like gathering for a post-game team snack. In that case, fruit is a perfect solution. It’s refreshing, easy, and usually safe for children with food allergies. And many children don’t get enough fruit anyway. So if you’d like to bring fruit (or even veggies) to games and are looking for ideas, I’ve got some!

It’s true that junky snacks seem easy: Just pop into the store and grab a pack of snack-size cookies, a few boxes of gummy fruit snacks, or a couple dozen donuts or cupcakes. But fruit and veggie team snacks can be just as simple (and fun).

Here are 20 ideas to get you started:

Whole Fruit:

  • Bananas (budget friendly!)
  • Apples
  • Clementines (easy for little hands to peel)
  • Pears
  • Peaches or nectarines
  • Plums

Cut Fruit:

Fruits & Veggies To Go:

  • Paper cups of berries
  • Individual bags of baby carrots (look for these in the store by the regular carrots)
  • Baggies of sliced peppers and celery sticks
  • Snack-size baggies of melon
  • Small paper bags of grapes
  • Paper cup or baggie of cherries
  • Small boxes of raisins
  • Prepackaged blueberries
  • Cups of sugar snap peas (nice and sweet!)
  • Cups of pineapple chunks

Get a free printable version of this list: 20 Healthy Team Snacks from Real Mom Nutrition.

If you’d like help organizing healthier snacks for your child’s team, consider using the resources in my Sports Snacktivism Handbook. It includes sample coach and team emails, an FAQ, this snack list, and a slideshow.

20 Fruit & Veggie Team Snacks by Real Mom Nutrition

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5 Grab-n-Go Healthy School Snacks

August 22, 2014

Does your child take a snack to school? Many do, to eat in their classroom or between school and sports practices. Sure, it’s easy to wash a piece of fruit–and ideally, it’s good to avoid waste with reusable food containers. But boy, it’s awfully nice to have packaged options on hand for mornings so nutty, you’re lucky if the […]

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Changing Camp Snacks For The Better

July 7, 2014

Snacktivism doesn’t stop when the school year ends. While some kids attend just a week or two of camp throughout the summer, others spend many weeks–or even most of the summer–at camp. It shouldn’t be a place where healthy food takes a permanent vacation. Two years ago, I had my own moment of camp Snacktivism, […]

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The Easiest Frozen Treat Ever

July 5, 2014

It’s all about staying cool right now, which means stocking your freezer with some cold, frosty goodies. Frozen grapes are the perfect one-ingredient frozen treat: Rinse, de-stem, place them in a freezer-safe bag, and lay them flat in your freezer. Be sure your kids can easily reach them for self-serve summer snacking. They taste like […]

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All About Snacktivism: My Interview in StayBasic Magazine

February 23, 2014

A few years ago, I got fed up with the Kool-Aid and cupcakes my son was getting after soccer games and vowed to make a change. I began talking to coaches and parents about providing fruit for post-game snacks instead–or even nixing snacks altogether (read: “What If Soccer Snacks Just Went Away?“). One day, a […]

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“Help! My child eats hardly any dinner…then wants a snack 10 minutes later!” Sound familiar?

January 10, 2014

This week, I reached out to readers on my Real Mom Nutrition Facebook page asking for their most frustrating feeding dilemma when it came to their kids–and promised that feeding expert and parent educator Dr. Dina Rose would address one of them on this blog. Dr. Rose, who is full of effective strategies for diffusing […]

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Camp Snacks: The Sequel

June 21, 2013

I practically stood up at my desk and cheered when I read a piece by Caron Gremont yesterday on The Huffington Post about camp snacks. She writes: We send our children to camp and trust that the counselors and lifeguards will keep them safe, from the pool to the buses used for field trips. Shouldn’t […]

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{Giveaway} KIND Bars

April 29, 2013

I was never a big fan of granola and energy bars. To me, they seemed too much like candy bars, and I never felt like I’d eaten anything substantial–even when the bars packed hundreds of calories. But KIND bars are definitely an exception. They’re made with whole nuts and fruit, many are low in sugar, […]

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Change The Snack Culture: 3 Steps to Take Now

April 4, 2013

Two years ago, I had a “light bulb moment” about snacking when I saw a mom and her child on the playground one day (read: “Snacking Insanity“). Since that moment, I’ve become much more aware of the snacks my kids are getting–and what I see isn’t good. It’s a problem, and not just in my […]

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