Forest Feast, the premium dried fruit and nut snack company, recently sent us through a lovely selection of their products to try out, suggesting that they may be great lunchbox-friendly treats for the Madhouse kids when they go back to school. There was a lovely mix of spicy nibbles and ingredients that could be used in baking, so I'll be experimenting with muffins, cookies and traybakes in the next few weeks.
Surprisingly, one of the biggest hits was the crunchy coated peas. When I hear "perfect mums" (a category that I most definitely do not claim to fit into !) saying that they fill their kids' lunchboxes with rice cakes, unsweetened dates and carrot sticks on a daily basis, and that their kids would rather eat fruit than sweets, I'm always slightly dubious. The Madhouse kids like to nibble on all of those things, but they are also rather partial to the unhealthier snacks such as crisps, biscuits and cakes. Well, I may have just found a new ally. The peas, which come in a variety of flavours, are pleasingly crunchy and sweet and the spicy coatings really complement the pea flavour. Each 40g pack contains less than 170 calories and they have the benefit of being naturally low in fat and high in protein. Flavours include Smokin' BBQ, Spicy Chilli Lime and Hot & Sour Sriracha and the manga-inspired packaging makes them even more appealing to kids.
We also loved their Street Food range, both for the taste and the exotic locations relating to the flavours. The lovely crunchy peas are back in force in the Louisiana Hickory Barbeque pack, which is a mixture of hickory smoked almonds and barbeque green peas with Jalapeno and honey and mustard sesame sticks. I thought they would be too spicy with both mustard and jalapeno in them, but the whole family loved them, including the kids, who often turn their nose up at spicy snacks.
We also tried Koh Samui Thai Spice Street Food mix, which is a fruity blend of Honey Red Pepper Almonds & Thai Spice Cashews with Pineapple & Coconut. These were again a big hit with the whole family and the kids particularly loved the chunks of sweet chewy pineapple, that perfectly complemented the crunchy peanuts.
If you want a sophisticated twist on a bag of peanuts, I can highly recommend the Sesame Glazed Peanuts with Almonds and Cashews. They are wonderfully crunchy and taste really fresh so they are ideal in bowls of nibbles, but could also be incorporated into salads and stir fries.
Next we tried the Roast & Salt Assorted Nuts, which are equally crunchy and tasty, but we did find them a bit too salty for our tastes. They'll be great in baking or stir-fries though so they won't be going to waste. We also tried a selection of the Forest Feast fruit pouches, which you can see in closer detail below.
The Sour Mango is moist and chewy with a sweet and slightly zingy flavour that the kids were happy to much on in place of sweets. The Dried Sliced Coconut has a much fresher flavour and crunchier texture than the dessicated coconut that I usually use in baking. The intriguingly named Dried Wonder Berries are a mixture of cranberries, goji berries, physalis and blackcurrants that are sweet but tart and juicy. They are all lovely to nibble on straight from the pack but could also be added to yogurt or muesli and used in home baking.
All of the products that we tried got a positive reception so they're all great to have in the cupboard for snack-time or for livening up back-toschool lunchboxes. Fresh fruit can be fiddly to eat for little fingers if it needs peeling or pulling into sections, and chopped slices of fruit tend to go brown and mushy before they get eaten, so dried fruit is a convenient and healthy alternative. If you find it hard getting your children to eat their 5-a-day, it's a great way of sneaking extra fruit into yogurts, muffins and stir-fries too.
for more information : www.forestfeast.com
Disclosure : We received the products in order to write an honest review.