Often times people like me whose children are fortunate enough to have their grandparents in their lives mouth off about how much candy and junk food they eat as a result. Grandma’s purse is usually the go-to place for a handy, and typically sugar-laden, food-colored treat. As much as I dislike the boundless candy consumption that sometimes results, I can’t deny my daughter’s grandparents the right to be grandparents. I can, however, implement the healthy lifestyle that I value for myself and my family within my own home. The trouble is how to get a child who knows the taste of Starburst to accept raisins as a snack.
In my quest to find a healthy snack that is also acceptable to my 2 year old, I recently undertook the venture of making my own fruit roll-ups at home. Actually, my daughter and I did it together, which made the experience all the better since I’m always looking for projects to do with her around the house. It also worked out perfectly since I had 2 pints of ripe strawberries that I didn’t know what to do with. Since the process doesn’t involve any cooking, all I had to do was supervise my daughter when using the blender. Here is the recipe we used, but typically any fruit can be used (though you might want to stew things like apricots or plums beforehand):
Prepare the following (feel free to scale down, the recipe is really flexible):
- 6 cups of strawberries, rinsed and with the stems removed
- 6 tablespoons honey, raw honey works best as it gives a nice texture and body to the fruit
- 3 teaspoons of lemon juice, this preserves the color
- 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, you can also spray with non-stick spray if you choose
- Wash and cut stems from strawberries. If your child is like mine (s)he loves playing with water, so they can participate in washing. You can easily review counting and colors with them at this point. If your child is a little older, make sure you have them measure out the strawberries and remaining ingredients.
- Puree the strawberries in blender. You can sift the seeds through a cheese-cloth if you desire (I kept the seeds in, why waste all the fiber).
- Sweeten with honey, add lemon juice, and blend. At this point encourage your child to taste it, it will increase their excitement for when it will be ready and make them more eager to have it as a snack later on. It was so good we almost gulped it right up.
- Spread onto the parchment-lined baking sheets. The thinner you can get it the better since it mimics the fruit-roll-up you can buy from the store.
- Dehydrate the fruit either by placing in the sun, using a dehydrator or putting it in the oven with the door slightly ajar at the lowest temperature setting (the lowest my oven goes is 170 degrees, but lower would be better). This process can take 12+ hours, don’t rush it! I did this overnight to make sure my daughter didn’t accidentally come near the stove and burn herself. Once the fruit feels like it has congealed and can be peeled off from the parchment paper easily, you know it’s ready. You can use a pizza slicer to slice it up into portions. Stored in a sealed container or plastic bag, it can last up to a month.
Our finished product is featured above, and turned out great! Not only are we excited to try this with other fruit, but my daughter really took ownership of this activity. InshAllah it becomes regular practice in our home to be true to our beliefs, in big ways and small, and not just complain about the circumstances we are placed in.
Dalal is currently a chemistry graduate student who, above all, loves being mom to a lovely two-year old daughter.