I grew up eating cans and cans of mandarin oranges, and I LOVED them. Sweet and delicious, and now looking back, probably not as healthy as they seemed with the sugar-water they were packed in. Fruit in general is just so great for me. I am always willing to try new things. (I was the kid that brough pomegranates to school before they became a superfood to elicit “what is THAT?”) Kumquats? Cherimoya? Prickly Pear? Dragon Fruit? I gotta try them. My problem is that I have no space for tons of fresh produce to be lying around, and sometimes it is easier to grab something in a bag than it is to worry about peels, seeds, cores and sticky, messy fingers. Trader Joes has provided me with ample freeze-dried, and oven dried products that DON’T have added sugars and syrups (they have those too, but I don’t buy them) The freeze-dried stuff if my favorite. but I like to vary from the standards. So when I say the “Crispy Jeju Mandarin Orange Slices” I was super stoked. The only dried oranges I had ever encountered in my life what the rock hard ones found in my grandma’s potpourri dish, and while they might have looked delicious, crusty oranges that smell entirely unlike an orange, are not too ap-peeling HA HA HA I couldn’t stop myself. I am so sorry. That was ugly.
Without hesitation (they are only $3.25 give or take your region) I threw a bag into the cart. I couldn’t even imagine what freeze-dried mandarin oranges would be like. Texturally, most freeze-dried fruit loses its texture to become a similar mass of crunchy type foam (similar to candy honeycomb) and with oranges having so much water content I wasn’t even sure how much could be left. Heck, we will see.
What I found upon opening the small 1 oz pack (remember no liquid=no weight) was these odd little slices of orange. They look kinda like the potpourri ones, but no peel and much thinner. As with many dried fruits, the smell didn’t provide any indication of what was to come. Realistically, they couldn’t be bad. I mean oranges are oranges. There are not secret disgusting tasting oranges. The first bite was a nice crisp, fruity and citrusy bite. Not sharp flavored at all. I expected even a certain amount of bitterness since the pith was still somewhat encompassing these morsels. Delicious. Even on the pithier pieces, the bitterness just wasn’t there. Consistency stayed, well, consistent. I have eaten a lot of freeze-dried products and some seem to have hard “notches” in them, which I am sure is somewhat helped by the thinness of the slices, but it was nice to have odd bits that I literally could not break down. 5 minutes later, my bag was gone. A nice, light snack, to break up the mundane consuming of apples and bananas, and a definite replacement for “texture eaters” who need unhealthy chips or crackers.
Nutritionally speaking, these aren’t too shabby for ya. 1 bag is one serving, which I like because I don’t like eating half of a small bag or a a quarter of a small bag and calculating how far off I am anyway. SO:
1 serving= 1 28g bag
Calories from Fat 0
Total Fat 0
Total Carbohydrates 24g 8%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Vitamin A 2%
Vitamin C 30%
Realistically these are great bonus for those who don’t get enough fiber. You won’t fill all full though, however I feel satisfied after I eat them. Sugar like most fruit is there and per quantity concentrated because of the removal of liquid. At least it isn’t refined sugar. a Poptart also has 17 g of sugar…. so kinda a downer there. At least you are also getting fiber, Vit C and even a bit of iron with this.
Overall, it’s a nice between meals, low cal, fat-free snack. It breaks up repetitious healthy snacks, and is delightfully delicious, It is a tad spendy per serving, so not likely something you will be rotating into your daily menu. Trader Joes rarely lets me down on their products.
Pros: Unique, not filling, Vit C/fiber/Iron, no additives or preservatives, Fruit
Cons: Price per serving is high, sugar content is higher
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