For a while now, we've subscribed to a weekly snack box that's all whole ingredients, which I really love. My problem, though, is that I'll finish the box in one day, and I want to snack every day, not just once a week. So I've been experimenting with combinations of dried fruit and nuts as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack. Mid-afternoon is always when I get tired and want to stop working for the day, so a little snack like this really peps me up.
These can be easily tossed into little sealed containers at the beginning of the week to grab on your way out the door every morning. You can add them to a bento box or keep a few baggies around in your pantry for a not-so-bad-for-you mini-meal between meals. This weekend, we're snacking on them on the road, as we head out for our yearly summer vacation. There are so many ways you can (and should) eat these!
The one thing you have to keep in mind with these is portion size. These aren't meant to be a meal, just a really tasty break between meals. Dried fruit can be very sugar and calorie dense, so imagine if those fruits were still fresh - would you really eat 50 cherries in one sitting? Maybe 10 dried cherries is more your speed. Would you eat 15 apricots in one sitting? One or two should really be okay for a snack. The same with nuts and seeds - portions can vary, but try to keep just one or two handfuls at most at a time.
You may not have a pantry full of options for combining your own mixes, but you don't need to at all! (We're just testing recipes all the time, so we need a lot.) The beauty of the bulk section of the grocery store is that you can get as little or as much as you'd like - so start out with a half a cup of just the ingredients you know you like and branch out from there. Try to go for unsweetened/unsalted versions of the ingredients as you can find. Roasted nuts are fine, but toasting raw ones only takes a couple of minutes too, and you can control your own salt content :)
As pictured, I like to portion mine out in muffin tins and separate them in sealed containers for the rest of the week. It keeps things interesting so I don't get bored with one kind. For freshness of the nuts and seeds, I suggest refrigerating these and only making as many as you need for a week at a time. Additionally, some of these mixes are great additions to basic cookie or muffin recipes, if you're into that kind of thing!
Here are ten of our favorite combinations, for you to try yourself :)
- Slivered almonds & dried strawberries. If you haven't tried dried whole strawberries, you must! They're like those fruit gummies for kids but so much nicer.
- Goji berries & brazil nuts. I fell in LOVE with both of these after trying them from a friend. Goji berries are less sweet but complex and so tasty, and brazil nuts are really satisfyingly crunchy!
- Almonds & dried cherries. All of my favorite wines have "notes of cherry and almond", so this is a natural for me. I won't judge if you add chocolate.
- Cashews & dried cranberries. The creaminess of cashews and slightly tart cranberries are perfection, in my eyes.
- Peanuts, raisins, and sunflower seeds. These are like the peanut butter & jelly of snacking for me - it's classic and everybody likes it.
- Dried apple & toasted pecans. I'm a constant snacker, so these are really nice because they slow me down due to their size. Dust a little cinnamon over top of them for even more flavor!
- Dates & pistachios. Similarly, I'll mix pistachios with shells and unpitted dates for a slower snack. This is especially good for days when I just want to quickly get through a meal - they make me sit and think about every bite!
- Pumpkin seeds, golden raisins & dried apricots. I love this color and texture combination. I'll usually just add in one or two apricots as they take a few bites to get through.
- Toasted walnuts & banana slices. I love how crunchy this one is, and the bananas are a good flavor combination with walnuts.
- Toasted hazelnut, coconut, and cacao nibs (or chocolate chips.) This is usually a Friday snack - it's explicitly sweet and tastes decadent even though it's not that much at all.
I also love dried wild blueberries, but I'm not sure what would go well in a mix with it - what do you think would work? What are some of your favorite combos for these kind of snacks?
If you haven't tried adding these to your lunchbox yet, grab a few kinds from the bulk section and try it out! :)