Celebrating with Natural Sweets: The Summer Edition

My sister and I grew up with big holiday celebrations. Both our parents really enjoyed making a fuss out of the holidays by decorating the house and cooking big meals. Part of the magic of these celebrations was the abundance of sweets—ice cream and popsicles on the Fourth of July, candy canes in Christmas stockings, chocolate eggs and jelly beans in Easter baskets and of course as much candy as we could carry at Halloween!

As a mother, I have carried on the tradition of making a big deal of the holidays, but I had to pause when it came to the candy. I had long ago removed most of the sugar from my diet and eat mostly clean, organic, whole foods. So it’s not easy for me to watch my small children fill themselves with chemicals and toxins from artificial food dyes and preservatives—no matter how much they enjoy their sweets. Yet, I wanted them to experience the same delight of colorful, yummy treats on special occasions as my sister and I did when we were young.

Gumballs from the Natural Candy Store

While I certainly don’t think sugar is great for our health or our children’s health—what really bothers me about candy is the food dyes, additives, and preservatives. Artificial food dyes have been linked to hyperactivity, ADHD, cancer and food allergies. For more detailed information about the effects of food dyes check out the article Just Say No to Blue, Red, Blue and Yellow on one of our favorite websites Healthy Child, Healthy World.

Here’s what goes through my head when I’m in the grocery store deciding whether or not to buy candy… Who makes this stuff and markets it to kids? And don’t they care about what they’re feeding children? I try to use my power as a consumer to choose products made without artificial food dyes… if enough people stop buying what they’re selling, maybe they’ll make a change. We know big companies have the ability to make many foods with natural dyes because they have replaced artificial food dyes with natural food dyes in Europe, but continue to sell the same product here in the United States with the artificial food dyes. See the article “Toxins on our Kid’s food.” If we’re going to see a change, we need to create the demand in this country by being conscious consumers.

Licorice from the Natural Candy Store

Now typically my sister and I don’t mention products in our blogs, but occasionally a product or resource strikes us as “in service” and we want to share. That’s how Alison and I feel about the Natural Candy Store, which has candy with “no artificial colors or dyes, no artificial flavors, no artificial preservatives, no artificial sweeteners and no hydrogenated oils.” Much of the candy is also organic. Of course it’s still candy and has sugar, which I’m not saying is healthful, but in moderation and on holidays I think it’s exactly what it should be—a treat. For the most part I can handle watching them eat sugar on holidays knowing that at least I didn’t fill their bodies with chemicals!

Sun Drops (like M&Ms) from the Natural Candy Store

And since it’s almost the Fourth of July—we also wanted to leave you with some great ideas for simple, healthy popsicles that we found on Growing a Green Family. Check out these 50 Amazing Homemade Popsicle Recipes and Non-toxic Popsicle Molds.

Natural Candy Photo Credit: James Carlin

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