Throughout history, eating habits have continued to evolve and change due to various cultural, economic, and agriculture factors. In the United States, the norm has long been having three well-defined meals per day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In recent decades, though, as dietary choices have multiplied and daily schedules have gotten less rigid, snacking and snack foods have become much more common. Moreover, whereas many snack foods are relatively high in carbohydrates, there has been a shift in preferences toward healthier and more nutritious snack foods. And what better way to guarantee a more healthy snack? The addition of fruit ingredients.
Popular Examples of How Fruit Can Improve Snack Foods
Fruit is a versatile and prominent component of many snacks, mainly because of the natural sweetness and nutritional value fruits provide. Some fruits, like grapes, cranberries, and apricots, are often dehydrated and used in snack bars and granola. Other fruits, like strawberries and pineapples, are juiced or pureed in order to be added into pastries or yogurt cups. Almost any fruit, when processed properly, can be a tasty and nutrient-dense addition to a convenient snack food. Here are some of the more popular examples:
- Trail mix: Trail mix is a popular snack amongst hikers and outdoor enthusiasts that typically consists of a combination of granola, nuts, dried fruit, and a wide variety of other components selected based on personal preference. Granola and nuts typically make up the base of the mix, but dried fruits are often what give the trail mix a hint of sweetness and chew next to crunchiness. Examples of these dried fruits include raisins (grapes), cranberries, apricots, or bananas.
- Snack bars: Similar in composition to trail mix, snack bars are typically an amalgam of cereals, nuts, and dried fruit. When in bar form, this mixture provides an easy, on-the-go form of snacking that works well with our busy lives. Whether you’re summiting a mountain or waiting in line at the DMV, a snack bar is an easy way to get a quick snack. And with dried fruits like raisins, figs, or various berries, you can also get some extra fiber and a burst of nutrition.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is a dairy product that is created through the fermentation of milk by a number of strains of beneficial bacteria. The nature of fermentation makes yogurt a healthy choice for several aspects of health, and this fact also makes yogurt a great vehicle for almost any fruit flavor. Fresh fruit can be mixed into yogurt at home, but dehydrated fruits, purees, and other types of fruit flavoring are often added to single-serve snack cups in order to provide additional flavor and nutritional value.
- Gummy snacks: Gummy snacks are gelatin-based chewable treats that have long been popular with kids of all ages. These kinds of snacks typically come in individual packets of a dozen or so small gummies. Though there are a variety of flavors used to make them, they are almost always flavored with fruit essences or extracts from fruits like lemon, grape, strawberry, and watermelon.
- Chips: When you think of snack chips, you almost inevitably will think of potatoes as the main ingredient. In recent decades, however, there has been a dramatic increase in the variety of foods that are now made in a chip form. Initially this was primarily other vegetables like kale or spinach. More recently, though, fruits like apples, pears, plantains, bananas, and kiwifruit have begun to be used. You get the familiar crunch of a potato chip but with a nutritious and nutrient-dense fruit instead.
- Smoothies: A smoothie can generally be defined as a blended beverage that features a combination of ingredients mixed with ice and/or a liquid. Many people also mix in protein powder or other supplements, but the main flavoring agent is usually some kind of fruit flavor. It’s quite common to include chunks of fresh or frozen fruit in the blender, but it can also be done with any fruit flavoring agent. Popular smoothie fruits include strawberries, bananas, papayas, mangoes, and peaches.
- Frozen fruit bars: If you don’t have a blender, you get a similar experience with frozen fruit bars. These sweet snacks are found in the frozen food aisle of grocery stores and involve bright fruit flavors and colors blended into a smooth, frozen treat on a stick. Also referred to simply as popsicles, these snacks are a classic cooling treat in the hot summer months.
- Baked goods: With baked goods, the line between snack and dessert is fine, but in either case fruit flavor is a common component. Muffins, scones, pastries, and cookies are all excellent vehicles for any number of familiar fruits. Dried fruits are normal for some kinds of baked goods, and others generally use extracts or essences to impart the desired flavor. Cherries, apples, bananas, and virtually every kind of berry are welcome in baked goods.
- Breakfast snacks: As food norms have continued to change, breakfast has become less formal and less well defined compared to other meal times. As a result, more people are looking for breakfast snacks and other items that can be eaten on the go. Breakfast-oriented food products like oatmeal and cereal have been modified to be easier to prepare and consume; and as the connection between breakfast and fruit remains strong, many of these breakfast snack items unsurprisingly use popular fruit flavors like melon and citrus.
This trend of incorporating fruit into snacks aligns with consumers' growing preference for healthier and more natural options, but it’s worth noting that not all fruit in snacks is equally healthy. In some cases, the fruit flavor is artificial and the presence of the flavor doesn’t impart any added nutrition. That is why it’s important for consumers to read nutrition labels to be aware of what’s in the food you eat.
Contact FruitSmart for Premium Fruit Ingredients
Americans love snack foods, but they have much more sophisticated tastes and ideas about food than ever before. At FruitSmart, we are passionate about using high quality, healthy fruit ingredients to make only the best products. We’re also dedicated to partnering with our clients to develop new, exciting recipes that utilize the natural flavors that fruits provide. If you’d like to learn more about our products or what it’s like to partner with FruitSmart, please contact us today to speak with our team.