We’re heading out on a road trip soon so I’ve been stocking up on snacks. And one thing that we always take on long day trips and vacation is fruit leather. This strawberry chia fruit leather is a new favorite.
Fruit leather has always been one of my daughter’s favorite foods. Her grandmother has been making it for her ever since she started eating solids and while back then she just sucked on it (and made a big sticky mess!), it’s now a go-to snack in our house. She’s not too picky about the flavor or the type—she’ll eat homemade and store-bought with the same amount of gusto—so I thought I’d add in some chia seeds to a batch of Strawberry Fruit Leather for a bit of healthy fat and more staying power. Since most fruit leather is just fruit, active little kids can burn through it pretty quickly!
My daughter does not have any issues with texture, so I knew that she’d just think that the chia seeds were part of the strawberries—they look just like strawberry seeds. She actually didn’t even comment on it and happily munched on a few strips in between playing with her new dollhouse and reading books.
White chia seeds, which are more beige than white, blend into baked goods, oatmeal, and fruit leather a lot more seamlessly than the regular black ones. The subtle color means that you might have less issues with little eaters trying to pick them out. Look for them at your local natural food store or on amazon.
This Strawberry Chia Fruit Leather Recipe only has two ingredients—white chia seeds and strawberries—so make sure you use strawberries that taste really great. We opt for organic strawberries when possible since conventionally grown ones typically contain higher levels of pesticides. And at this time of year, the small and sweet local strawberries that you might find at your farmer’s market would be a nice option for this recipe—if you can somehow resist the urge to eat them all fresh out of hand!
Making fruit leather at home isn’t hard, but it can be a little tricky to master the method. Here are a few tips to help guarantee success:
- Spread the fruit puree evenly, and don’t let it thin out at the edges since they tend to bake faster. You can even spread it slightly thicker at the edges to help ensure even baking.
- The mixture will dry from the edges inward, so if you notice that there’s a two inch strip that’s done around the perimeter but the interior is still tacky to the touch, remove your pan from the oven and simply cut it off the edges with kitchen shears. Let them rest on a wire rack while the rest of the fruit leather finishes baking.
- You can tell that the fruit leather is done when it’s completely set and dry and it peels off easily from the silicone mat. It will also look darker in color.
- If you happen to over-bake the edges, simply place those strips into a zip top plastic bag and let sit overnight at room temperature. In the morning, it should be softened up!
Toddlers aged 2 and older should have no trouble biting and chewing this fruit leather. If serving this to a younger eater, roll it up and let them suck on it. That will soften it up nicely for them.
Amy Palanjian is a writer, editor, recipe developer, and crafter for magazines, books, and websites. She’s also mama to a very energetic little girl who inspires her to share wholesome, yet realistic recipes and feeding tips with other parents of little ones at her site Yummy Toddler Food. For more inspiration, check out her website and Instagram.