Please evaluate the nutritional content of fruit roll snacks.

Please evaluate the nutritional content of fruit roll snacks. My children love them, but I’m concerned because they taste so sweet.

Most fruit roll snacks have 50 to 100 calories per serving and 12 to 21 grams of carbohydrate. The analysis is similar to fruit. A medium apple has 60 calories and 15 grams of carbohydrate.

In reading the list of ingredients, however, I found more than fruit. Maltodextrin, sugar, natural flavor, vegetable shortening, citric acid, mono and diglycerides and spice were also listed.

These products seem expensive for just eight fruit roll snacks per box. Go to your grocery store and check the price of eight pieces of the same fresh fruit against the price of one box of eight fruit rolls in the same flavor as the fresh fruit. Decide for yourself, which is a better buy for the money. Remember though, food is not nutritious until it gets into the body.

I found the fruit rolls to be sweet tasting. Also, they were quite sticky to the teeth. Both sweet and sticky foods increase tooth decay. Dentists have now listed sweet sticky fruits, including fruit rolls and raisins as causing cavities. I am more concerned still about candy and sugary desserts than fruits and fruit rolls.

The snack choices you have are fresh fruit, canned fruit in fruit juice or fruit rolls. I would suggest you offer children a variety of fresh fruit cut in small pieces for snacks first. However, you can make your own fruit rolls or leathers by following this recipe I found in “Taming the C.A.N.D.Y. Monster” by Vicki Lansky. Use fresh apples, peaches, pears or nectarines to make this fruit roll snack.

Fruit Leather Recipe

The fruit can be the “too hard to eat” variety or the “too ripe and the last piece” variety. It even works on canned fruit, which is well drained. Use mashed or pureed fruit. Two methods work well.

First is the blender way. Peel and core fruit, blend until smooth and then cook 5 minutes in a saucepan over medium heat.

The second method is the freeze/defrost method. In advance, peel and core fruit and place it wrapped in the freezer. Remove from freezer an hour before using. Cook in a saucepan, mashing with a fork as you go. Cook 5 to 10 minutes. If very watery, drain. While cooking, add 1 tsp. of honey for each piece of fruit you are using. (Cook the different fruits separately, though you can cook one piece or a dozen of the same type at one time.)

Lay out clear wax paper or cut open small wax bags on a cookie sheet or broiling tray. Use one wax paper for each piece of fruit you have cooked. Spoon mixture onto the wax paper, staying away from its edge. Spread as thin as possible. If you spread another piece of wax paper over the mixture and press down with a wide spatula, it helps to make the fruit evenly thin. Be sure to remove this top sheet of wax paper before drying.

Place your tray in the oven (at night, we suggest), turned on to the lowest possible heat or with just the pilot light on. Leave overnight (6 to 8 hours). The wax paper should not melt. If the fruit is dry by breakfast, remove the fruit leathers from the oven (if not, cook a little longer) and roll up the wax paper (with the dried fruit) as if it were a jelly roll.

Cool, peel and eat. It will last several months this way, if your children don’t discover it, that is.