By Veggiegirl – As cool, crisp temperatures begin to fill the air, the selection of fresh produce (particularly, the fruits) begins to dwindle – and the fruits that are available during the autumn and winter months only last for a short time. For this reason, I like to incorporate a variety of fresh and dried fruits in my daily diet, in order to get the nutrients that I need, and to eat “in season.” But now, there is another way to consume my daily fruits: freeze-dried. Once thought to be just for astronauts, freeze-dried fruits have made their way onto many store-shelves – everywhere from health food stores to supermarkets to convenient stores! Since I have never consumed freeze-dried fruit before, I was quite intrigued by the sample products that I received, in the mail, from a company called Funky Monkey Snacks.
As I looked over each of the three individual-serving bags of freeze-dried fruits, I was impressed and “drawn to” the colorful (almost iridescent-looking) packaging, which boasts the clever names for the flavor of the product, the company’s mascot (a cute, purple monkey, wearing a top-hat and a vest), and their slogan, “Fruit That Crunches!‘” I was also impressed with the statement written near the top of the bags, which reads, “100% Real Fruit, All Natural, 100% Fat Free, No Sugar Added.” In addition, it says on the back of the package that the contents of these bags contain “no preservatives, coloring, or flavoring.” Sounds too good to be true – with the promise of so much wholesome-goodness in these individual servings of freeze-dried fruit, I was anxious to find out if these products were too-good-to-be-true.
The first flavor I tried is called Purple Funk, which simply consists of freeze-dried bananas and açai (which is known as a “super-food,” for its high level of antioxidants). Since I regularly consume smoothies made with bananas and açai berries, I had high expectations for this product, since that’s all it contains (the aforementioned bananas and açai). However, after just one bite, I am sorry to report that I was disappointed; not just with the flavor (which resembled neither bananas nor açai), but with the texture as well. While I know that freeze-dried fruit is supposed to be, well, dry, the Purple Funk freeze-dried fruit had a texture similar to Styrofoam (except firmer). Although I was not too keen on the Purple Funk flavor of the Funky Monkey Snacks, I was willing to give the remaining two flavors a fair chance.
The next flavor of freeze-dried fruit that I tried is called Bananamon, which is comprised of freeze-dried banana slices dusted with cinnamon. While the flavor was in fact reminiscent of bananas and cinnamon, I felt that, once again, the texture was just too dry and crumbly – none of the banana-slices were any larger than my pinky-fingernail (since larger pieces kept disintegrating). While better-tasting than the Purple Funk variety, I cannot say that I swooned over the Bananamon flavor, either; but there was still one more flavor to try – could this one be the package that outdoes the others, in terms of flavor and texture? It was time to find out.
Lastly, I opened up the package of the Jive-A-Lime freeze-dried fruit, which is just freeze-dried pineapple with lime juice. At this point in the taste-test, my expectations were quite low; but thankfully the Jive-A-Lime variety surprised me! The taste was sweet, but not overly tart; the pieces were generously sized (i.e. did not disintegrate between my fingertips), and the texture was not too dry (it was somewhat moist, and not reminiscent of Styrofoam at all). I must say that, with the Jive-A-Lime variety of the Funky Monkey Snacks, I certainly did save the best flavor for last.
The nutrition information for each flavor of the Funky Monkey Snacks is, as follows:
Overall, the Funky Monkey Snacks freeze-dried fruit would be a good option for people who are either “on-the-go,” looking for healthy portion-controlled snacks (these are far superior to those infamous 100-calorie packs), or just want to try a different way of eating fruit (“astronaut-style,” haha). Out of the three flavors that I sampled, I would say that the Jive-A-Lime flavor is the most palatable; however, I think I will be sticking to my beloved organic dried fruits, and fresh fruit (while they are still in season, of course!), instead of the freeze-dried variety.
Note: According to their website, Funky Monkey has one more flavor – Carnaval Mix – but we haven't trialed this one yet!
Where to Purchase: Funky Monkey Snacks are new on the shelves, but you should see them popping up around the U.S. soon. Check the Funky Monkey website for a "where to find" indicator, and of course to check out their super-cool site. It is quite fun. Select Funky Monkey Snacks can be purchased on Amazon at a discount.