Atlas / Clean Eating / Preschool Projects

Healthy Valentine Treats: Freeze-Dried Fruit

A few years ago, we realized that Atlas and food additives didn’t get along.  To put it simply,  Red #40 and High Fructose Corn Syrup bring on a rage that puts the Incredible Hulk to shame.  Holidays are challenging for us, with one of the biggest obstacles being the annual classroom Valentine exchange.  I have to walk the line between doing what’s right for him (avoiding the candy) and making sure that he doesn’t feel like an outcast while his friends get all the goodies.

This year we got lucky.  There is a no candy rule for his class, and I am feeling much less stress about the whole thing.  But let’s take a trip back to 2009:   Atlas was two.  We had just cleaned out his diet for the first time.  I had to bring a Valentine treat to exchange with his daycare class.  I wanted to make sure there was one thing in my kid’s bag that he could eat, even if I had to put it there myself.

These were dark days, folks.  Days before Pinterest, before the truth about High Fructose Corn Syrup had gone mainstream, and before eating clean was socially acceptable.  It wasn’t an easy task.

My solution:  Freeze-dried bananas and strawberries.  Cute packaging.  All natural.  No drama.

I was so happy to have an answer that we made them two years in a row.  Atlas changed schools in the middle there, so nobody was the wiser.

The first time we made them, I purchased the “just fruit” brand, but it was pricey.  For year two, I discovered that Trader Joe’s freeze dried bananas were a fraction of the price.  Either one will work, but my friend Trader Joe will save you some cash on the set up.  And they are delicious.

To turn the fruit in to Valentines, I picked up some mini treat bags and found some cute foamies at Michael’s.  I stuck the foamies on mini clothespins to hold the bags closed and cut out heart tags that said things like “You’re a berry good friend!” and “Hope your Valentine’s Day is bananas!”

I am far more bullheaded than crafty – there ways to do this that would be far more aesthetically pleasing.  But it did the job.

The next year, Atlas was eager to partake in the sweatshop creation.  Instead of clothespins, I tied them up with red ribbon and had him sticker the tags with monkey love stickers. I also invested in a heart paper punch to streamline the whole thing.  Well worth it.

I was concerned that handing out fruit on Valentine’s Day was the equivalent of handing out toothbrushes on Halloween.  But it turns out I’m not the only mom that tries to find a way to ditch the loot bag when my kid isn’t looking.  “Really, I have no idea where you put it…would you like to have some cheese and crackers?”

Wishing you a Hulk-free Valentine’s Day!

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