On the shelf: From Montreal company Prana Biovegan Inc., known for packaged organic dried fruit, nuts, chia seeds and oil, comes a line of four new gluten-free, vegan trail mixes: Machu Pichu fruit and nuts; Fuji premium salty mix; Annapurna almonds-goji-cranberry; and Kilimanjaro deluxe chocolate mix. Prana products are available at Organic Planet Worker Co-op and Organza Market. The suggested retail price is $4.99 for a 150-gram bag.
Features: Prana touts the health benefits of these mixes and they do pack a punch. With "superfoods" such as goji berries (a complete source of protein and full of vitamins, mineral and antioxidants) and mulberries (high in vitamin C, iron, calcium and fibre, plus resveratrol, the compound found in red wine that is said to improve cardiovascular health), they are nutritious and certainly filling. The mixes have no "filler" peanuts.
As far as taste, the Machu Pichu is the standout of the bunch; containing mulberries, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, Brazil nuts and the strangely sweet-tart flavour of goldenberries, it has an exotic appeal that's different from most trail mixes. Plus, it has fewer calories and less fat, but more flavour than the other Prana mixes. The Fuji is less interesting, but it's packed with stuff -- almonds, cranberries, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, raisins, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, cranberries, coconut oil and, most importantly, salt -- Algarve sea salt, to be precise -- an ingredient sorely lacking from the other mixes.
Failures: Calling the Kilimanjaro "deluxe chocolate" is misleading, as the chocolate consists of a few waxy vegan dark-chocolate chips thrown into an uninspired mix of almonds, cranberries and walnuts. The Annapurna is called "salty-sweet" but, aside from the gojis, it is akin to eating birdseed. All four types feel more like a hippie-approved, satiating snack than a delicious treat.
Buy or bye-bye: These mixes are certainly good for you, but with a flavour profile ranging from bland to so-so, other than the Machu Pichu, they don't stand out from the crowd.
-- Jill Wilson