News at Cardon Children's Medical Center  

Mom to Mom: Grocery store anxiety

Mary Parra Mary Parra, mother of four  

Let me share a secret with you: I get anxiety whenever I have to go to the grocery store.

To the average person, I’m sure it sounds silly. You walk in, grab your food, pay and leave. However, after all of the bad press about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), I really try to avoid it. That means I scour every label looking for this big, bad ingredient – and I am filled with angst when I find it.  Thoughts race through my mind. Should I feed this to my kids? I know they like it. But if I give it to them, will they get sick or will it cause other health problems? Is there a healthier version that’s not outrageously pricey? 

It’s hard because not only is HFCS found in many baked goods, it’s also hidden in things you’d never suspect such as ketchup, marinades and tomato soup.

I figure the best way to avoid high fructose corn syrup is to bake as much as I can at home. Plus, I’d like to think when my kids open their lunch boxes and see a fresh baked goodie from mom, it brings warm thoughts and makes happy memories. I try to bake healthy breads such as banana bread or pumpkin bread for their lunches. Or I will include oatmeal blueberry muffins or carrot zucchini muffins. These are all some of my kids’ favorites, and I feel better about packing them than sticking in a convenient processed food.

Two things my kids do beg me to buy (and I just can’t bring myself to do it) are fruit rollups and fruit snacks. They are loaded with HFCS and artificial colors. Instead, I have a very simple recipe for fruit rollups, and my kids come begging for more whenever I make this healthy version.

These rollups are full of real fruit and nothing artificial added. It's also cheaper than buying the store bought kind. You can take them on picnics or put them in backpacks, and they're also great for kids' lunches during the school year. Perhaps your kids will get hooked on the healthier version of fruit rollups, too!
Strawberry Banana Fruit Leather

  • 3 cups strawberries
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate, frozen
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cover a 12"X17" baking pan with sides with plastic wrap. Whiz the strawberries, banana, orange juice concentrate, honey and lemon juice in a blender until very smooth. You can do this in batches if needed. You should have 2 cups of puree. Pour into the prepared pan and spread with a spatula, making the edges thicker than the middle. Bake in a 140 degree oven with the door slightly open for about 6 hours or until just barely sticky. Cool, roll the long way, and cut into 8 pieces. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week (if it lasts that long!).

Mom to Mom is a column written by Mary Parra, an Ahwatukee mother of four and a local journalist.

Cardon Children's Medical Center
1400 S. Dobson Road
Mesa, AZ 85202
(480) 412-KIDS (5437)
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