08 July, 2011
Is Fruit Leather Healthy?
Fruit leather is pureed fruit dried in thin layers in a low-heat oven or dehydrator. Homemade or all-natural leathers use only fruit, lemon juice or ascorbic acid and sometimes, small amounts of added sugar. Some commercial fruit leathers, however, may include potentially unhealthy ingredients.
Fruit leathers can be low-calorie, convenient and light-weight snacks for kids and adults. One commercial all-natural fruit leather strip counts as ½ serving of fruit and contains no added sugar. A 14g serving provides less than 50 calories and 0g of fat. Some even offer about 10 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Picky kids who are reluctant to eat whole fruit might be willing to try fruit leather as an alternative.
Read ingredient lists on commercial brands of fruit leather, which may also be called fruit taffy or fruit rolls. Many contain unnatural ingredients in addition to fruit puree, such as corn syrup, artificial colors and artificial flavors. Commercial versions may also include partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, indicating they also contain trace amounts of trans fats, to preserve the shelf-life and texture of the finished product.
Making fruit leather at home is a simple way to use up an overabundance of fruit. Most fruits, except for grapefruit and lemons, can be cooked and pureed. Mix 1 tbsp. of lemon juice in for every 1 cup of fruit puree and add a minimal amount of sugar to taste, if desired. Spread in a 1/4-inch layer onto greased, rimmed baking pans and bake at 200 degrees F for approximately 6 hours.
All-natural or homemade fruit leather makes a good snack for camping or hiking. You can offer it as a treat at kids' parties instead of sugary candy. You can also puree one part fruit leather into five parts water for a refreshing drink.
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