Back in grade school, having the latest “cool” snack in your lunch was a big deal. At lunch time, we would eagerly rip open our lunch boxes to see what treasures our moms had packed. Lunchables were always a hit, fruit gushers, dunkaroos, marshmallow fluff sandwiches, and a can of soda made you a god. Yes, it was a weird time.
I rarely had any of the packaged snacks that other kids in my class had. Not only did my mom think they were nutritionally void and classified them as junk food (she was 100% right), but they were also expensive. Every once in awhile she would put a treat into our lunches and my sister and I got to feel cool for the day. Again, it was a weird time.
Looking back, I might have felt left out at the time but I think my mom did me a huge favor. She taught me that food should not only be inexpensive, but it should serve some nutritional purpose. It was also ok to have the occasional treat. It’s those food beliefs that are the backbone of my thoughts on food now.
With those beliefs in mind, I try to find/make snacks that aren’t just glorified junk food. While I might not be able to recreate fruit gushers or dunkaroos, there are some snacks that can be made with real food.
Remember fruit roll-ups? The store bought versions have a ton of sugar and dyes added in and rarely have any actual fruit in them. You can totally make your own fruit roll-ups with less sugar, actual fruit, and cheaper than the ones on the shelves. There are quite a few recipes/methods out there, but this is the one that I found worked best in my oven. You might have to experiment with cooking times and temperatures based on your oven. It takes less than 20 minutes to put everything together and while the cook time is a few hours, it’s all hands off and very simple.
- 1 to 2 cups fruit of your choice, chopped into small pieces (I used peaches)
- lemon or lime juice (I used the juice from half a lime because that’s what I had)
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- 1-2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
- water as needed
- Put all of your chopped fruit into a medium saucepan and turn heat to medium-low.
- As the fruit is cooking add in the lemon or lime juice and cinnamon to taste. Keep cooking until the fruit starts to break down. If the compote seems dry, add in a little water. You don’t want a super watery mixture, just enough to keep the fruit from sticking.
- After about 15 minutes, remove the fruit from heat. Add in maple syrup to reach desired sweetness level. My fruit was really ripe so I only used 1 tbsp.
- Now it’s time to puree the fruit. You can use an immersion blender, food processor, or regular blender. Whichever you choose, blend until it is completely smooth. You don’t want any chunks left.
- Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Do NOT use aluminum foil, it will just be a mess. Pour the fruit puree onto the sheet and spread into a thin layer. This part will take some time to spread everything out to the right height. You don’t want it too thick or it won’t cook right and if it’s too thin it won’t hold together. Take your time and you’ll get it.
- Set your oven to the lowest setting, mine is 200, and cook for 3 to 4 hours. You’ll know it’s ready when it is no longer sticky or wet. Depending on how low your oven can go, this might take longer or shorter. Just occasionally check so it doesn’t turn into fruit brittle.
- Once the fruit is done, slice it into strips and roll it up with a little bit of parchment paper. You can keep these in the fridge for up to a week and use them in lunches for a healthy and delicious snack!