After staying with us for nearly a month this July, my grandkids left me three reminders of their visit: fingerprints smudged on the glass of my deck doors, jars of (dead) lightening bugs on the picnic table, and half-full boxes of popsicles in my freezer! That pretty well sums up the summertime, doesn’t it?!
Popsicles are a must-have on hot afternoons, and last month, Maia and I set out to find the healthiest fruit popsicles. You’ll see what we discovered under the Good, Okay, Bad, and Sneaky Stuff tabs below.
Before I jump into that, I want to make a quick plug for DIY: the healthiest fruit popsicles are those you make yourself!
Healthiest Fruit Popsicles Recipe
Homemade popsicles are my favorite in the summer because there are so many fresh fruits available. First, you need to buy a nontoxic popsicle maker.
Next, you need to choose your fruit and puree in a blender (this is the one we use).
I use 2 cups of fresh or frozen organic berries. You can use raspberries, strawberries, or blueberries, or a blend of them. A banana will lend natural sweetness. I also add some freshly squeezed fruit juice; orange makes the popsicles sweet, but lemon or lime can be fun, too.
I then add one additional cup of water. Other add-ins can include plain yogurt or kefir, or some greens (we’ve found romaine lettuce or spinach to be the mildest in flavor). If you want to add a little raw honey or maple syrup, you can, but if you’re using ripe fruit it should be sweet enough, especially if you include banana.
Once you have your blend, just pour and freeze (and drink what’s left as a delicious smoothie!).
Healthiest Fruit Popsicles: Store-Bought
In terms of store-bought fruit popsicles: the bad news is that we found only one brand that we can really call Good Stuff and you can find easily. Just yesterday, after we’d already written this up and shot the video, we happened upon another brand in Whole Foods that is also Good Stuff, but seems to have limited availability.
One issue with most store-bought brands is that they don’t use organic fruit; this is particularly concerning when the fruits included in the popsicles are among this “Dirty Dozen.”
Here’s a video of us discussing some of the popsicles that we review in this guide, as well as discussing issues like “fruit juice concentrate” and what “sugar free” popsicles really are. I hope this video makes choosing the healthiest fruit popsicles easier.
The Good Stuff
These aren’t easy to find, but if you can track them down (Brooklyn Whole Foods carries them), these are some of the healthiest fruit popsicles out there.
In fact, the ingredients list is basically what we would blend up ourselves if we were freezing homemade popsicles (other than the fact that the ingredients are not all organic.)
These are our favorite pops! They contain fruit and veggie purees, and most of the ingredients are organic. They don’t contain sugar. Ruby Rockets are the healthiest fruit popsicles found in many grocery stores.
The Okay Stuff
These contain strawberry puree (which is better than juice) and organic cane sugar (14 grams). While there are certainly worse options out there than Chloe’s, I just can’t call something with sugar Good Stuff, especially for a product like a fruit pop that really doesn’t require sugar to be tasty.
Paleo Passion Pops
I like that these are non-GMO, and only contain apple juice concentrate, strawberry puree, fruit, flax seeds, and guar gum. So at least it’s made of real food and doesn’t contain white sugar, even if nothing is organic. (Conventionally grown strawberries have a very high pesticide load.)
I like these because they were made by an actual mom and contain only fruit, organic agave, and guar gum. The only downside is that none of the fruit is organic.
A bunch of you recommended this brand, and while I like that they contain actual fruit, they also have cane sugar. One plus is that these are organic. Still, with 15 to 17 grams of sugar, I can only call these Okay Stuff.
The Sneaky Stuff
365 Frozen Fruit Bars
Whole Foods’ version of fruit popsicles are made of mostly juice and cane sugar, and pack 25 grams of sugar. They aren’t organic and contain carrageenan, which is known Bad Stuff! Shame on you, Whole Foods.
Ciao Bella Sorbet Bars
These popsicles consist primarily of concentrated juice and cane sugar (not organic) so I don’t consider them a healthy choice. They have 11 grams of sugar per bar.
Nature’s Hand Organic Freezer Bars
We found these in our local health food store, but they are only marginally better than the conventional version of these. In a way, these are even worse, because they purport to be healthy, despite 33 grams of sugar per serving (which is three bars). When you eat these, you’re just eating frozen sugar water with questionable “natural flavors” tossed in to differentiate between the “fruits.”
Organic Whole Fruit Frozen Juice
Even Maia, expert label-reader, was duped by these! We found them at Costco, and she actually thought from the label (which proclaims “frozen juice!”) and a quick ingredient scan that these were truly just frozen juice. Later, after tasting one and finding it cloying, she read the label again and discovered white sugar (15 grams in one popsicle).
Trader Joe’s Fruit Frenzy Bars
The main ingredients in these are water and sugar (not organic). These are the sweetest bars we reviewed, with 20 t0 30 grams of sugar!
The Bad Stuff
A lot of you asked about this brand, but it seems it’s been bought out by Nestle and is now the Outshine bar (see below). These are Bad Stuff just like Outshine and have 20 grams of sugar. There is some real fruit but nothing is organic.
We took this picture of these basic “fruit” pops piled high in an outside bin at the grocery store. These make me sad because they are hard to miss, marketed to kids, and really inexpensive so moms who are looking for a summer time treat are buying these for their kids. The first ingredient is water but this is followed by high fructose cron syrup and then various artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. No wonder you can get 24 of these for $1.99–they aren’t even food:(.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that these proclaim to have no sugar and “made with real fruit.” Outshine’s sugar-free fruit pops consist of water, sorbitol (an artificial sweetener that is not recommended for children or anyone with a sensitive digestive system because it causes diarrhea), sucralose (AKA Splenda), polydextrose (yet another synthetic ingredient, in place to make reduced-calorie products taste better), and maltodextrin (similar to corn syrup). These do contain real fruit, none of which is organic. The regular Outshine by Nestle fruit bars have cane sugar (17 grams total in each bar) and modified corn starch, which is an additive that can’t even really be called food. Nothing is organic, obviously.
These are basically just water and cane sugar (9 grams). They don’t contain any fruit juice (just beet juice or turmeric for color).
I hope you have a wonderful August full of delicious fruit pops! Please share your favorite recipes or brands below!
To your health,