This is a sponsored post for North Coast Organic through Kitchen PLAY.
As parents we all know kids will happily drink as much apple juice, and eat as many fruit and veggie pouches, as they can get their hands on. But are apple juice and pouches actually good for them? And how does their production impact the environment? We’ve been diving into those questions, and are excited to share the answers with you.
While North Coast Organic is paying us to write this post, I agreed to partner with them because I really love their products and am so impressed with their dedication to health, quality, and sustainability. You all know I love my research, and I have been pretty impressed as I’ve looked into what makes North Coast Organic stand out.
Is Apple Juice Good for You?
Many parents see apple juice as a great option for getting a serving, or two, of fruit into kids each day. While the American Academy of Pediatrics does say that a serving of juice can replace a serving of fruit, they also lay out some warnings.
Apple Juice Ingredients
It’s important to read your food labels carefully, especially when it comes to juice. For instance, many kid’s juice drinks are sweetened with extra juices, and have additives such as ascorbic acid, citric acid, and other unknown “natural flavors”.
For an apple juice to be labeled as “juice” it must be 100% juice. But even then, 100% apple juice is typically made from apple juice concentrate (and can still have added ingredients like ascorbic acid).
What is Apple Juice Concentrate?
Apple juice concentrate is made by removing most of the water from the pressed juice of apples. This reduces cost for packing, storage, and shipping. But the high heat required for making apple juice concentrate can also reduce the nutritional value of the juice itself.
Not only that, but even 100% juice from concentrate can have flavor and color additives. I was pretty shocked by this because I always assumed that 100% juice was just pure juice! Apparently concentrating the juice can also reduce the flavor, which is why they have to add flavor back in.
How Much Sugar is in Apple Juice?
With so many kids in America drinking 16 ounces (or more) of juice each day, the biggest concern is the massive amount of sugar children are taking in. This is why doctors recommend sticking with 100% juice, and avoiding things labeled as a “juice drink” or “cocktail”. Most of these beverages have added sugar.
But even 100% juice still has large amounts of sugar. Kids ages 2-15 should have less than 25 grams of sugar a day, according to the American Heart Association. But an 8oz serving of a typical 100% apple juice from concentrate can have as much as 28 grams of sugar!
New Kid’s Organic Apple Juice Drink Never From Concentrate
This is why North Coast Organic decided it was time to shake up the juice industry.
They heard from many consumers who loved their pressed, not from concentrate, and additive-free apple juice but not the high level of natural sugars from the apples. So, the company began to work on a way to make their juices more accessible to everyone.
I’m so excited that we got a sneak peek (and taste!) of their solution.
North Coast Organic’s Kid’s Juice Drink is a reduced sugar beverage made from fresh-pressed apples and filtered water. This gives their apple juice drink 45% less sugar than 100% apple juice.
But Aren’t We Supposed to Avoid Juice “Drinks”?
I know, it’s confusing, right? After telling you doctors recommend avoiding anything not labeled 100% juice, I’m recommending a juice “drink”. That’s because this apple juice drink is unlike any juice drink currently available. This is why it’s important to really read those ingredient labels.
How North Coast Organic Makes Their Apple Juice Drink
Most apple juice concentrate is imported to the US from China, where farms are known for their pollution and excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides.
But North Coast Organic sources all their apples from organic growers in California, Oregon, Arizona, and right here in Washington.
Apples are delivered to their processing plant in California Monday through Saturday. They are washed and sorted, then finely chopped in a grinder. A juice press takes most of the pulp out, then a light filtration is used to remove some of the sediment. The pressed juice goes through a heat exchanger for pasteurization, then is bottled on the bottling line.
The only thing added to their Apple Juice Kid’s Drink is filtered water. No concentrate, no added sugars, no preservatives, no coloring.
And because North Coast Organic’s juice is fresh pressed and not from concentrate, the addition of water does not take away from the pure, crisp flavor. In fact, our son Corban found he greatly preferred it to any of the 100% apple juice brands (all made from concentrate) that I used to dilute with water to reduce the sugar content.
Honestly, this apple juice drink is unlike anything I’ve tasted before. It truly is like drinking an apple right off the tree.
New Fruit + Veggie Pouches for Kids
North Coast Organic is also releasing a new line of convenient grab-and-go fruit + veggie applesauce pouches.
Their pouches, like all of their products, contain no added sugars or preservatives.
Pouches have been one of my favorite baby and kid foods for 7 years now. They are incredibly convenient, can be easily eaten on the go, and provide nutrients and hydration that kids don’t get from the typical grab and go packaged snacks.
What I didn’t realize in the beginning was that many fruit and veggie pouches contain citric acid, ascorbic acid, and other additives. I was so confused why my little one would seem to get an upset tummy after a store-bought pouch, so I started making my own purees in reusable pouches. It wasn’t until later that I discovered his sensitive digestive system was likely being triggered by these preservatives.
Getting Veggies in Kids
North Coast Organic now offers three different flavors of veggie applesauce in pouches, which include vegetables like sweet potato, spinach, kale, and beets. The amount of veggies varies from 5-10% depending on the flavor, the rest being fruit.
I have pretty adventurous eaters who are willing to give new foods a try. In fact, we have a whole series of videos on TikTok of them trying and learning about new foods. But if there’s a food they don’t like, I don’t force them to continue eating it. This is especially important with my oldest who has autism.
For him, beets are dirt. Those are his exact words. Well, actually, he said they taste WORSE than dirt.
But when he tried the organic pear, blackberry, beet applesauce, it ended up being his favorite pouch flavor! I love that these fruit and veggie pouches are so carefully crafted and tested to be loved by kids, while also getting some vegetables they wouldn’t otherwise eat into their growing bodies.
Pouches for Feeding Therapy
I especially appreciate fruit + veggie pouches for our baby, who’s 18 months old. He’s had a long year of medical difficulties, illness, and hospitalizations. While we hope the worst is behind us, he still needs support in a lot of areas, especially feeding.
Arden has had a feeding tube for over a year now, and also has autism, so food aversion is a very high risk for him.
While he currently needs to get the majority of his calories through formula in his tube, he is able to eat typical toddler food, and this includes pouches.
Arden’s biggest difficulty with eating is that he easily aspirates (breathes food and liquid into his lungs), so has to work harder to eat safely. This is pretty tiring for him so limits the amount he will eat orally.
Fortunately, pouches let him easily suck in just the right amount of puree without requiring the dexterity of using a spoon. They’re a big part of his feeding therapy and also allow us to be able to feed him orally when we are on the go.
I love the different fruits and veggies he is getting with the North Coast Organic Pouches, and especially that they aren’t full of additives or preservatives like many other similar products. He’s getting an amazing variety of organic produce from the convenience of our pantry shelf.
Why Focus on Organic?
Just like their apple juices and kid’s drink, North Coast Organic’s pouches are made entirely of organic produce. Apples have been at the top of the dirty dozen list since its beginning. This is a list of which produce contains the most pesticides. Apples have porous skins that are easily penetrated by pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
While focusing on organic, North Coast Organic also tries to keep their prices down as much as possible, because they believe that everybody should have the means to consume organic foods and beverages.
A top reason people don’t buy organic is because they think they can’t afford to. But North Coast Organic believes we all have the right to have access to organic goods, and does what they can to make that attainable.
Commitment to Sustainability
One of the other things I love about North Coast Organic and their mission for health, is that they include the environment in this mission. The health of our children is so important, but we also play a huge part in the health of the world we leave to them.
I knew as soon as we received our package of products that they take sustainability seriously. This was the first time a brand sent us a box whose packaging contents were compostable packing peanuts!
As for their product packaging, the Kid’s Reduced Sugar Apple Juice Drink is bottled in 100% recyclable glass. They are also working to find a co-packer to be able to offer single serve juice boxes, but are adamant that the cartons must be 100% recyclable.
Can You Recycle Fruit + Veggie Pouches?
At the moment there is no flexible pouch film that can be recycled or composted. New developments are just around the corner, and North Coast Organic is anxiously awaiting the solution to this worldwide problem.
Fortunately, they’ve found a sustainable solution through partnering with Terracycle. I was super excited to learn about this, because it turns out that there are many products I’ve been throwing away packaging from that can actually be upcycled!
To upcycle these Fruit + Veggie Pouches, I can just send them in to Terracycle at North Coast Organic’s expense. Then the pouches will be made into new things like handbags, playground equipment, and building materials. How cool is that?
Pin to Save for Later
I hope you enjoyed learning about North Coast Organic and their new products as much as I did. Our snack cupboard is now stocked with their pouches!
Make sure to save the pins below to remind you what to look for next time you’re grocery shopping. If you give the apple juice drink or fruit + veggie pouches a try, leave a photo in the comments of the pins. We’d love to see how your kiddos like it!