February and Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Henry wrote some Valentine’s cards with a small toy dinosaur for a few of his friends. It was cute to watch him be thoughtful about which friend got which colour and type of dinosaur. He also received some thoughtful cards and of course, some treats.
As a nutritionist, I’m consistently thinking about what my kids are putting in their mouths. Although I try not to create rules around food, I certainly have my limits. And holidays make this particularly hard to navigate. I struggle with the balance between “its a one time treat” and “it’s really not healthy and of no real benefit to my child”, or worse “this treat may actually cause unknown, long term negative health effects”. I don’t ever want my kids to feel left out or like they can’t have food their friends are having. So, we do our best at home, and when we are in a social setting I relax my limits and encourage Henry to choose more healthful options (I am definitely not always successful, as he almost always wants what the other kids have).
One thing I have a particularly hard time with is food dyes. They are in SO many foods and are frequently in treats found in social settings. WHY. WHY must there be dyes and artifical colorus in so many foods?!
Common names for some food dyes include: allura red (Red No. 40), brillant blue (Blue No. 1), Sunset yellow (Yellow No. 6), tartrazine (Yellow No. 5).
The reasons not to feed your kids (AND yourself! Especially if you are pregnant!) foods containing food dyes are abundant, and scientifically backed. They have been shown to increase hyperactivity in children, and to negatively affect learning and memory function in rats and mice. As well, these dyes place an unnecessary burden on your liver, which is responsible for breaking down the dyes and processing them.
Here are a few scientific resources to give you a little more insight into the known issues related to food dyes:
So, after seeing the red and yellow food dyes in so many Valentine’s treats, I decided to make my own Valentine’s Day inspired treats for Henry. Theses are seriously so simple and he loves them. And I can be confident in the ingredients he is consuming. These aren’t only perfect for toddlers, but also a healthy treat for anyone!
I only used my blender and the muffin cups so there were few dishes (#momwin!). I definitely could have made these even more full of healthful ingredients, but I opted to keep it super simple. These bars contain dairy, but if you want to make them dairy free you could use canned coconut milk or coconut yogurt instead of the cow’s milk yogurt. I used what I had on hand and I encourage you to do the same.
There are only 4 ingredients in these treats, and no artificial dyes or colours. I used organic almond milk to help thin the mixture out a bit. I also chose organic yogurt from grass fed cows and strawberries that we picked this past summer. I added the Genuine Health Fermented Organic Gut Superfoods (#notsponsored) in the Summer Berry Pomegranate flavour because it adds a great colour AND is food for your gut bacteria/probiotics to feast on (also known as a prebiotic). It’s one thing to take probiotics but you need to feed those little guys so they thrive!
If you give this recipe a try, let me know what you think of it!
Stay tuned for a healthy green St. Patrick’s day recipe!
Frozen Berry Bars
Total time: 1 hour
- 1/2 cup of almond milk
- 1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
- 1 cup yogurt or canned coconut milk
- 1 TBSP Genuine Health Fermented Organic Gut Superfood (optional)**
Place all ingredients in a high power blender. Pour into molds and freeze for at least an hour.
** This post is in no way sponsored or endorsed. I simply enjoy these products and use them regularly.