The concern regarding a possible link between food dyes and hyperactivity highlights just one factor in the campaign for child health in our country. With the foods children and parents are pulling off of the grocery store shelves, the battle is far from over. Dyes, additives, and artificial sweeteners are primary ingredients in treats marketed to children — young children.

The great news is that real food is better than the junk. It just has to be taught — and modeled. If your children are just brand new, start right and get them hooked on the real deal. If you've created a candy addict in your child (or are one yourself), change the rules, and make the commitment to clear your kitchen of junk with these replacements.

1. Instead of fruit chews, feed them dried cranberries. The health benefits of cranberries include cancer-fighting antioxidants, antibiotic properties, and plenty of vitamin C. Dried cranberries don't have the bitter taste like fresh ones (though packaged dried cranberries may have added sugar).

2. Try dark chocolate instead of colored, milk chocolate candies. Buy it in big bars and cut up into small pieces for snacks or as a sweet treat following a meal.

3. Instead of mixed candy, serve granola. To add a little punch, mix in No. 1 and/or No. 2. To control the sugar, make your own.

4. Instead of packaged candy bars, make oatmeal cookies.

5. Instead of cookies with cream: Multigrain cracker sandwiches. Spread with hummus, nut butters, or put thin slices of cheese in between.

6. Instead of pudding: Applesauce. Make your own or use pure stuff from the store that has no added sweeteners. Apples contain heart-healthy, stomach-filling fiber and are naturally sweet.

7. Instead of sugared juices, make real fruit drinks.

8. Homemade popsicles. Highlights High Five has a Watermelon Raspberry Slush Recipe that doubles as a great recipe for popsicles. Scroll down on the left side and click on number 30 to hear the recipe on audio. Follow the recipe directions, putting the mixture in popsicle molds instead of a big bowl. Keep them in the freezer and pull them out for a very healthy snack.These treats are messy as they melt and are best eaten outside. Let children eat them after taking a swim or playing in the sprinkler, then just hose 'em off!

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