Have you heard of Fruit Pearls?

I hadn’t.  But Linnea, a reader in Austin, Texas, wrote to me about them. This is what she had to say.

Why I like Fruit Pearls:

  • My toddler asked for “pink ice cream” at 7pm, after a very long day and was satisfied with this choice. (Of course, I took him to Sprouts to go “out for ice-cream.”  I was stacking the deck in favor of nutrition.)
  • Portion controlled
  • Sugar content was 9g
  • Has frozen “beads” of fruit juice mixed with flash frozen citrus. – freaky, but the innovation was interesting to my toddler and a lot less messy!

Why I won’t be buying them a lot:

  • Not cheap
  • The “beads” probably need to be kept at a constant temperature – which my home freezer probably cannot provide.

I did not try any of the yogurt or chocolate versions yet.. but I am feeling victorious tonight.  There has to be a catch, right?  So, what do you say?

1) It’s practically heretical to suggest this, but I don’t think the most important question to consider when assessing a new food is how nutritious or healthy it is.

I wouldn’t worry about stacking the deck in the favor of nutrition when it comes to sweets and treats.

I really believe that there is a time and a place in everyone’s diet for everything.  Read Why I feed my daughter inferior food.

What’s more, sometimes, when you “healthify” junk food, it can be more difficult to teach kids how to put junk food into their diets in an appropriate way.  (“Why can’t I eat this as often as I want if it’s healthy?)   Read Cookies and the Cycle of Guilty Eating.

2) The question I always ask is: What lessons or habits will this food teach my child?

Linnea, “didn’t try to pass this off as fruit or ice cream.” That’s good news. I agree with the idea that Fruit Pearls aren’t fruit—even though they’re made with fruit.

In fact, oranges and/or tangerines are the first ingredient in every flavor….even the Chocolate Fruit Pearls.  Strange, but true.

Still, eating Fruit Pearls won’t teach your kids a thing about eating fruit. Fruit Pearls don’t look, taste, feel, or in any way, resemble read fruit.

But Linnea: Why not call Fruit Pearls ice cream?  Fruit Pearls are eaten like ice cream, popsicles, and sorbet. That is what I would call them.

You can “nutrition-up” foods, but you cannot reclassify them.  Ice cream-like foods teach kids an ice cream habit. Read When is a cookie NOT a cookie? and Donuts vs. Muffins.

That’s why I was glad to hear, Linnea, that you told your toddler this was a sometimes treat…just like ice cream.

3) If you think of Fruit Pearls as an ice cream alternative, it doesn’t matter which flavor you buy. 

Some of the flavors have relatively few ingredients. Others? Well, not so much.

  • Lemon has 6 ingredients.
  • Banana Berry has 29 ingredients (even more if you count the ingredients that go into some of the ingredients such as go into the yogurt).

All the flavors have added sugar.

  • Banana Berry contains sugar, liquid sugar, corn syrup, and dextrose.
  • Other flavors are made with sugar and fruit juice concentrate…a euphamism for added sugar.

Read about what the FDA has to say about added sugars.

One caveat: If you have a child who won’t go near a fruit no matter what, you CAN use Fruit Pearls as an introduction to fruits. 

I know it’s unconventional but sometimes you’ve got to meet your child where he’s at.

  • Have your child explore the different fruit flavors.
  • Then move on to other fruit-flavored items.
  • Next do taste comparisons with these different “fruit” items.
  • Do taste comparisons with the real deal.   Small tastes.
  • Finally, shift to serving fruit regularly, and “fruit” items occasionally.

Read The Road Less Traveled.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~