[A tempting selection of dark chocolate-covered almonds, dried cranberries, and vanilla almonds.]
When I received an email from the Canadian arm of Back to Nature trail mixes and nuts a few weeks back, I must admit that I was, at first, skeptical. First of all, the mixes, while marketed under the “Back to Nature” brand name, were produced by the megaconglomerate (inventor of Cheez Whiz and Tang–and you know how I feel about Tang), Kraft Foods. But don’t judge a nut by its company, I told myself.
Still, there was the issue of a trail mix “ready made,” delivered in premixed bags. For many reasons, I don’t indulge in pre-packaged trail mixes.
First of all, most of them contain added sugars; and if they don’t add sugar directly, they usually include some kind of sweetened ingredients, such as “yogurt” bits, dried fruits bathed in sugar, chocolate, or even candy. In addition, most of the nuts in prepackaged mixes have been roasted in oil, most likely cheap, old, or rancid oils. If I don’t know the origin of the oils in which my food is cooked, I’m not eating it. (Did you know that most canola oil is genetically modified when not organic? Or that most conventional vegetable oils–the ones that don’t have a distinct flavor or aroma–have been heated at extremely high temperatures, bleached, deodorized, or worse, so that consumers won’t be able to detect when the oil is actually rancid? No thanks.)
In fact, although the HH is a huge fan of trail mix, I usually just make my own, by buying raw nuts and seeds, toasting them myself, and combining them with dried fruits (I talked about the proportions in my basic trail mix in this post).
However, I couldn’t argue with the mixes’ ingredients or philosophy. Back to Nature promised all-natural mixes with “no artificial additives, preservatives (or sulfites), sweeteners, chemicals or hydrogenated oils.” In addition, their “ingredients are premium made with only the best available nuts and fruits. Nuts are individually dry roasted, and blended in small batches to ensure optimum flavour.” Seemed like an offer I couldn’t refuse.
The package arrived shortly thereafter. And just look at it:
Besides the beautiful wooden basket in which the mixes arrived, the flavors themselves sounded quite tempting, ranging from simple one-ingredient roasted jumbo cashews in one bag and roasted almonds in another (both roasted with sea salt), to the more elaborate and complex Raisins, Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Pecans and Apricots in another or (my favorite combo) Cranberries, Chocolate Covered Almonds and Vanilla Almonds (the most decadent of the mixes, of course).
Because of my current ACD status, I wasn’t able to sample all the dried fruits in the bags, but immediately dug into the almonds and cashews. I must admit that the cashews were among the best pre-roasted ones I’ve ever tasted. I also sampled the nuts and seeds from the other bags and was pleased with virtually every one. The HH must have liked his share, as he finished the entire bag of Cashews, Almonds and Pistachios in one sitting! He did remark that the dried apricots were a tad too dry for his taste, however. I wonder if this is due to the lack of conventional preservatives in the bag–a drawback I’m willing to accept for the knowledge that nothing unnatural has been added to the ingredients.
I was saving the Chocolate-Covered Almond pack in the hopes that I could indulge in chocolate before I wrote this review, but as of this writing, alas, I’m still off chocolate. Given the quality of the other bags, however, I am confident that this one, too, will be delicious.
[Chocolate-covered almonds, dried cranberries and vanilla almonds]
If you don’t have the time or the inclination to prepare your own trail mixes, the Back to Nature brand is a great way to partake of a healthy and delicious snack that won’t provide any unwanted ingredients along with the nuts, seeds, and fruit.
And guess what? The generous folks at Back To Nature have offered to provide not just one, but THREE sampler baskets as gifts for three of my lucky blog readers! Since these are made by the Canadian branch of the company, these prizes are available to Canadian residents only (sorry, American and International friends! But don’t despair–another great giveaway is coming up in the next few days that will be open worldwide).
Here’s how to enter:
If you’re a Canadian resident, you can enter one of the following ways (additional entries for each one you do):
- Leave a comment on this post telling me why you’d like to win, or what your favorite recipe for the ideal trail mix contains.
- Tweet about the giveaway on twitter, with a link to this post (be sure to include @RickiHeller so I see it!)
- Write about it on Facebook, and let me know that you’ve done so.
- Write about the giveaway on your own blog, with a link to this post.
The contest closes at midnight on Friday, November 13th (thereby making Friday the 13th a lucky day this year!) At that time, I’ll choose 3 numbers using Random.org and will announce the winners.