Lately I’ve been craving a trail-mix kind of snack…you know, nuts, coconut bits, seeds, dried fruit, and okay…a few chocolate bits too. So I went to our regular grocery store to see what I could find. I noticed that all mixes that looked good to me have dried fruit with food coloring. Seriously? So I went to Sunflower Market (a lesser WF sort of place), and came across the same problem. I know that dried fruit can be pretty sugary…I can live with that since I don’t eat it all that often, but for some reason I just can’t abide food coloring. Am I being ridiculous? Are my days of eating dried papaya/mango/pineapple over?
Please help me put together a really awesome, and wholesome trail-mix.
What?! That is ridiculous! There should not be artificial coloring in dried fruit! How irritating.
If you can swallow the higher prices, you may have to go to Whole Foods to get what you’re looking for. Whole Foods’ quality standards do not allow “artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats,” so whatever you find there is definitely going to be safe.
If you’re ever in an area with Trader Joe’s (or are really good friends with someone who will mail you something from their local store!), they have some awesome pre-mixed trail mixes including some with pineapple, some with chocolate, and plenty others to mix and match from. TJ’s privately labeled goods never contain artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
Wherever you find your ingredients, I’d recommend buying them in bulk and mixing things up at home. It’s almost always going to be cheaper that way, and you can get exactly what you want. For instance, the chocolate bits in pre-mixed bags are rarely going to be as high a quality as the Scharffen Berger baking chunks you could get a few aisles over. Costco is a great place to buy nuts in bulk amounts, too, remember!
I did some digging around on Amazon for you, and came up with a few options.
Believe it or not, Sun Maid (a totally mainstream brand!) makes a Tropical Trio (mango, pineapple, papaya) mix that is just fruit, sugar, sulphur dioxide and citric acid! There is some complaining in the reviews that the size has changed from “bits” to “chunks,” but everyone still seems to like the product. If you like chunks instead of bits, and don’t mind ponying up for a big bulk amount, this could be your answer. (You can also try to find it locally in smaller amounts; remember to always check the labels, as ingredients change without warning).
Here are 2 pounds of all-natural papaya chunks for $13.90 plus shipping. I don’t know what bulk papaya usually runs, but that seems a little pricey to me!
Great Skott Dried Pineapple is additive-free and costs about $4.50 per pound plus shipping. Beware of the other Great Skott brand tropical fruits, though: they contain artificial colors!
Aurora Natural is a brand with some great looking products. None of their stuff contains artificial colors or flavors. Sadly, they are not currently available on Amazon and are only locally sold on the east coast. You can either ask them to notify you when they resume shipping from Amazon, or check out their website’s online store.
Hopefully that helps a little bit. Good luck trail mixing, Kristina!