We all know that fruits are good for us and unless you’re currently on a keto diet, you most likely eat a piece or two during the day to satisfy that urge for something sweet. Dependant on your lifestyle however, it’s not uncommon for that piece of fruit you took to work to travel back and forth and end up a soggy, smelly mess by the end of the week. Why? Because sometimes eating fruit equals sticky fingers and dribbling juice. Cue the packet of dried fruit!
Now, your memories of dried fruit might consist of a neatly packed Tupperware container with a sandwich, a piece of cheese, a small packet of chips and a packet of dried apricots. Well, that’s what a school lunch might have looked like back in the 1980s and 1990s. Dried fruit was a convenient snack for kids and an easy addition for parents to pop into their school lunchbox. Somewhere though, in the following decades, dried fruit started to get a bad rap. Sugar became the numero uno bad guy and dried fruit was packed with it. But is it really?
There’s no denying that dried fruit contains sugar, but it’s densely packed because the water has been removed. A grape without water is a raisin. Therefore, a dried fruit contains no more sugar than the actual piece of fruit it derived from; you just need to eat it in moderation. Thirty grams of dried fruit is considered to be one of your ‘five a day’. It is a far healthier alternative than traditional overly processed snacks with their concentrates and added sugars, as it is 100% fruit and packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibre.
In more recent times food manufacturers have become more knowledgeable and self-aware in a nutritional sense than ever before. They realised the need to create products which were packed with pure ingredients and honest in their marketing.
Take this fruit roll-up brand, a popular product many years ago. The ingredients include:
- Apple puree
- Apricot puree
- Dried corn syrup
- Dried apples (colour preserved with sodium bisulfites)
- Malic acid
- Locust bean gum
- Xanthan gum
The company’s famous tag line was ‘Real fruit and fun rolled up in one’.
In reality, there was very little fruit to be had in this snack and some of the other ingredients were less than desirable. For example, the sodium bisulfite preservative used is something many people are sensitive to and which can aggravate asthma. Locust bean gum and xanthan gum are food agents used as additives or thickeners. Dried corn syrup is just another form of sugar, followed next on the list by more sugar. Nutritionally speaking this isn’t a wonderful snack.
Now though, things look refreshingly different. Let’s look at Annies ‘Apple & Raspberry Fruit Bar’ as an example. The ingredients listed are:
- Apple Puree (90%)
- Raspberry Puree (10%)
Not only is there only fruit in there, but there are also no hidden additives, added concentrates or thickening agents. What you see is what you get. With this comes the added benefit of being gluten-free, vegan and allergen-friendly. This is a welcoming change when, as parents today, we are in a better position to make informed and healthy choices for our children and ourselves.
As well as having products to choose from with fewer ingredients and hidden nasties, we consumers have more choices too. Our lifestyles have changed instrumentally over the last few years and luckily for us, dried fruit comes in a variety of products designed to be nutritionally sound, as well as fun for kids! Dried fruit snacks are consumed regularly by all types of people; athletes to keep their energy levels high, trampers for a sustained boost while out walking, or kids for that healthy fibre packed snack at school. Because we have so many uses for this type of fruit now, we market it in very different ways – creating exciting products so there is an option for everyone. Take Annies Fruit Jerky for instance. It’s New Zealand’s first plant-based alternative to traditional beef jerky and an exciting take on dried fruit.
So, the next time you feel like a healthy snack on the go and don’t want to waste money on the fruit you’re not going to eat, why not reach for a dried fruit snack instead?