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The “Healthy Snack” That’s Harming Your Kids

Sneaky snack marketed as healthy can actually be harmful to children

Written by: Kelley Herring, Healing Gourmet

If you have children, you already know about the endless array of packaged snacks available these days.  And while most parents know that “cheesy fish” crackers and electric blue drinks are unhealthy options, there’s one snack that touts itself as a way to get more servings of fruits and vegetables…

Fruit leathers.

With their healthy halo and claims of providing “half a serving of fruit” in each leather, many parents buy into the healthy appeal of this snack.

But the truth is, fruit leathers are not much better than candy bars when it comes to nutrition.

In fact, a single serving contains up to 14 grams of sugar (often in the form of corn syrup) and provides no protein or healthy fat. The result is a snack that will neither satisfy your child’s hunger, nor fulfill their need for nutrition. Rather, it is a food that encourages cravings for sweets, promotes blood sugar imbalances and could even set the stage for childhood diabetes and obesity.

Tasty Snack… Or Toxic Treat?

Just as concerning as the sugar content is the fact that fruit leathers are typically made from fruits that are the most contaminated with pesticides – including apples, grapes, raspberries, cherries and strawberries.

Because children are still growing – and consume more pesticide residue than adults relative to their body weight – they are especially prone to the health risks of these chemicals.

In my previous article in this newsletter, you learned that pesticides have been linked to some of the most prevalent and serious health issues affecting our children, including:

ADHD: Children with higher levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in their blood were twice as likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.

Allergies: People exposed to high levels of dichlorophenol (a breakdown product of an herbicide) and chlorine (found in tap water) were more likely to have allergies to milk, eggs, seafood, and peanuts.

Autism: A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that children were six times more likely to be diagnosed with autism if their mothers had spent their early pregnancy in homes within 500 meters of fields with the highest levels of organophosphate application, compared to those not living near agricultural fields.

More concerning is that 94% of children tested in a recent study had detectable levels of pesticides in their urine.

“Exposure is practically ubiquitous. We’re all exposed,” said Maryse Bouchard of the University of Montreal, lead author of a study on pesticides and ADHD.

But here’s the good news…

According to an Emory University study, when kids switched to organically-grown fruits and vegetables, their urine levels of pesticide compounds dropped to zero or close to zero.

Today, I’m going to share a simple recipe that will allow your kids to enjoy a fruit snack that is low in sugar, high in antioxidant nutrients and free from pesticides and artificial ingredients.

Another benefit? These fruit snacks are far less expensive than the sub par store-bought varieties!

Lemon-Raspberry Gummy Fruit Snack (Pesticide-Free and Protein-Packed)

Using organic frozen berries and pure gelatin from grass-fed cows, these simple and delicious fruit treats are quick to whip up. Experiment with a variety of berries and citrus juices to suit your little one’s (and your own!) taste.

•    2/3 cup organic lemon juice (fresh or bottled from Santa Cruz or Lakewood)
•    1 ½ cups organic frozen raspberries (try Cascadian Farm)
•    5 Tbsp. grass-fed gelatin (try Great Lakes)
•    10-15 drops organic liquid stevia (to taste)


1.    Add lemon juice and raspberries to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat.
2.    Cook, stirring until simmering. Let cool slightly.
3.    Pour the mixture into a blender (preferably a VitaMix or Blendtec) and blend until smooth. (NOTE: Raspberry seeds contain powerful phytonutrients that are liberated with high speed blending)
4.    Add the gelatin and blend to combine fully. Adjust sweetness with stevia.
5.    Pour gelatin-berry mixture into a 9×9 glass dish or candy molds. Refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour.
6.    Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
When it comes to keeping your family healthy, making small changes like this one will pay big dividends in your child’s long term health and your peace of mind.

No need to feel guilty when they grab this snack.



Kelley Herring is the Founder and Editor of Healing Gourmet  – the leading provider of organic, sustainable recipes and meal plans for health and weight loss. Be sure to grab Healing Gourmet’s free books – Eating Clean & Saving Green: Your Guide to Organic Foods on a Budget (includes 100+ foods at the best prices) and Eat Your Way Into Shape: Flip Your Body’s Fat Blasting Switch and Melt 12 Pounds in 2 Weeks (includes a delicious 7 day meal plan!). Claim your free copies here…


1.    Chensheng Lu, Kathryn Toepel, Rene Irish, Richard A. Fenske, Dana B. Barr, and Roberto Bravo. Organic Diets Significantly Lower Children’s Dietary Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides. Environ Health Perspect. 2006 February; 114(2): 260–263.
2.    Soldin OP, Nsouly-Maktabi H, Genkinger JM, Loffredo CA, Ortega-Garcia JA, Colantino D, Barr DB, Luban NL, Shad AT, Nelson D. Pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia and exposure to pesticides. Ther Drug Monit. 2009;31:495-501.
3.    Maryse F. Bouchard, David C. Bellinger, Robert O. Wright, and Marc G. Weisskopf. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Urinary Metabolites of Organophosphate Pesticides. Pediatrics, 2010.
4.    Eder W, Ege MJ, von Mutius E. The asthma epidemic. N Engl J Med. 2006;355:2226–2235
5.    Elina Jerschow, MD, Aileen P. McGinn, PhD, Gabriele de Vos, MD, MSc, Natalia Vernon, MD, Sunit Jariwala, MD, Golda Hudes, MD, PhD, David Rosenstreich, MD. Dichlorophenol-containing pesticides and allergies: results from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Volume 109, Issue 6 , Pages 420-425 , December 2012
6.    Roberts, EM et al. 2007. Maternal residence near agricultural pesticide applications and autism spectrum disorders among children in the California Central Valley. Environmental Health Perspectives. 115(10):1482-1489 
7.    The National Research Council (NRC) report: Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children
8.    Curl CL, Fenske RA, Elgethun K. Organophosphorus pesticide exposure of urban and suburban pre-school children with organic and conventional diets. Environ Health Perspect. 2003;111:377–382. 
9.    Fenske RA, Kedan G, Lu C, Fisker-Andersen JA, Curl CL. Assessment of organophosphorus pesticide exposures in the diets of preschool children in Washington State. J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 2002;12:21–28. 
10.    Flower KB, Hoppin JA, Lynch CF, Blair A, Knott C, Shore DL, et al. Cancer risk and parental pesticide application in children of Agricultural Health Study participants. Environ Health Perspect. 2004;112:631–635.