We were a little worried when we learned that March is National Nutrition Month. It’s not that we don’t enjoy nutritious food—we relish a big juicy apple or a perfect bran muffin as much as the next foodie—it’s just that so much of what manufacturers package and promote as health food is disappointing. If the product is actually healthful, it too often tastes like the box it came in; if it tastes good, it turns out to have so many additives and artificial ingredients that any notion of it being good for you is squashed.
Still, we’re optimists, always hoping that the next thing we open with the word healthy on the package will actually be both palate-pleasing and good for us. So when we saw Bare Fruit’s bags of “bake-dried” fruit with the words healthy snacks front and center, we tore in and hoped for the best.
And the best is what we got. We sampled everything in the line—Fuji Apple Chips, Granny Smith Apple Chips, Pear Chips, Sweet Cherries, and Mangos—and found each and every one to be simple, delicious and satisfying. Unlike so many dried fruits that seem to have had the life sucked out of them along with their juices, Bare Fruit’s snacks are recognizable as actual fruit. You see the meat, the core and the skin of the apples; the fibers in the mangos; the rich, deep red of the cherries. These fruits may have been bake-dried, but they have not lost an ounce of their essence.
The Bare Fruit snacks win big points on flavor, too. With the apples, for example, the variety of the fruit is immediately distinguishable: the Fuji apples have the delicious, subtly sweet flavor you would expect from the fruit right off the tree; while the Granny Smith apples are wonderfully tart. The other fruits are equally appealing: the pears are light and fresh; the cherries lusciously intense; and the mangos addictively sweet. Each is distinctly its own, retaining all the important flavor characteristics of the fresh version of the fruit.
The secret behind Bare Fruit’s perfection? Simplicity. The company uses organic fruit grown in the Okanogan Valley in Washington state and, recognizing that you shouldn’t mess with perfection, does as little to it as possible. The fruits are bake-dried, period. No preservatives, no fat, no cholesterol, no sugar or other additives. The preparation makes for a refreshingly short ingredients lists, consisting of the featured fruit and nothing else (except, of course, the Apple Chips with Cinnamon flavor, which includes organic cinnamon as a second ingredient).
At 29 calories per .42 ounces (i.e., the 12 gram “suggested serving size,” but if you’re an adult feel free to double the portion size), you can eat the entire 73 gram bag (i.e., 2.57 ounces or 6 servings, a very large amount of lightweight chips) for 180 calories. You could look at it as two apples’ worth, but one apple, or half a bag of chips, can be a lot more fun. If you just sprinkle one serving atop yogurt, cottage cheese, or cereal, it’s practically nothing calorie-wise, but a lot of flavor excitement.
Bare Fruit’s packaging, with its cartoon bear and fruit pictures, seems geared toward kids, and it’s true that these would make terrific additions to any lunch box—in fact, several school districts are beginning to carry the line for their school-lunch programs. But we think Bare Fruit transcends age. Fruit-loving adults will be as happy to munch on these as any kid would. We’re living proof: we haven’t been able to stop eating them since the first day we tasted them. If National Nutrition Month means eating Bare Fruit snacks like it’s our job, we’ve embraced it wholeheartedly.
But look beyond mere munching for creative uses for these delicious fruits. Toss them onto your yogurt, mix them in with fresh fruits. Top sorbets, mix them in salads. Mix fruits, add nuts and make your own “trail mix.” Keep them at work and in the car to avoid less worthy and less tasty temptations. And remember that even if you run out of fresh fruit at home, with a few bags of Bare Fruit in the pantry, there will always be an apple a day to keep the doctor? the trainer? the diet police? away.
BARE FRUIT DRIED-FRUIT SNACKS Fuji Apple Chips, Granny Smith Apple Chips, Pear Chips, Sweet Cherries, and Mangos