Handfuel - I'm Nuts About You

6:00 am



Most of us have figured out the meals that make our bodies happy. A mix of protein, vegetables, grains and good fats, and we're good to go.

But I think it's the in-between times, the snacking, that gets us into trouble. An apple is good sure, but is it enough to power you through the next five hours? Will you meet the afternoon slump with vivacity or hit the snooze button?

I'm grateful to have the most wonderful job in the world - as a food and restaurant writer, I get to dine out for a living - but it makes eating the rest of the time tricky.

I have to arrive to a restaurant hungry enough to eat an entire meal, but not be so ravenous that I can't function. I must eat well enough throughout the day to fuel my body to work hard, but not fill me up.

You wouldn't believe how much deep-fried and battered food, ensconced in thick gravies and rich, highly caloric sauces I put away, and numerous courses (Just last night I had a nine course meal with two desserts and three cocktails), so I have to keep it light and healthy here at home, but also nourishing and energizing. I can't be found slumped over my plate of prime rib.

It's a delicate balance, I tell you, and while a handful of nuts do the job, it's so b-o-r-i-n-g to mow down on the same thing all the time. I've had my fill of trail mix, thankyouverymuch. And while I do love you almonds,  I think we should see other people.

So I was over the moon to discover Handfuel, a new line of of gluten-free, non-GMO nut, dried fruit and seed mixes that are so fresh, you'll scoff at the nuts you've been downing for the last decade.  In addition to their boss nutritional value, these come in epicurean combinations that will delight your palate.


Take a look:


This one's my favourite. Clearly, as I snarfed my way the bag in an embarrassingly short time. 

Spanish Marcona almonds are NOTHING like the regular ones you've been mowing down on from the bulk store or topping your smoothie bowl with.

“The Queen of Almonds,” as they're called, are full bodied thanks to all those rich natural oils, have a smooth, soft texture, are sweet (think almond extract) and moist. High in vitamin E and magnesium and low in cholesterol, they're a powerhouse of fuel for your body (you're gonna kill it at the gym).

And while plain ol' Marconas from Spain would have been just wonderful, Handfuel went and upped the game by marinating them in freshly squeezed lemon juice, adding a a pinch of sea salt and hand roasting them to utter perfection.

Almonds are no longer just a snack to tide me over between meals, at least not these beauties. These are utter bliss in a bag.


I'm not crazy about dried fruit. The texture is never right - they're always too hard and dried out or too gooey and mushy. And then it messes with the flavour. So while you're piling fruit & nut medley on your yogurt or making monkey munchie trail bars, I'm over here gagging a little.

But I was excited by this one, only because how extremely rare it is to find plump, whole dried blueberries and
strawberries in a mix (there's also cranberries, which make it into nut blends more frequently). And since I don't eat a lot of berries outside of a smoothie, this is a fitting addition for me.

I was also fired up about the stars of the show - raw walnuts and pecans - two nuts that aren't often seen outside of cookie, pie and salad recipes, and really don't get the spotlight despite their delicious meatiness, phenomenal texture, and Omega-3 fatty acid goodness.

So if you're wondering whether you should eat that "power bar" filled with chocolate and sugars or this snack that packs a powerful antioxidant punch and is chockablock with fibre, I'm gonna say you're a smart cookie and you'll make the right decision.


As delicious as raw nuts can be, sometimes you need a a little sumthin' sumthin', as Maxwell would say (look it up), some added zing to get your tastebuds engaged and excited again.

Featuring roasted almonds and pistachios alongside juicy sultana and golden raisins, sunflower seeds, and tossed in a subtly sweet and spicy seasoning, this mix will enliven you.

I would've normally passed this one up as I find almost all mixes with raisins are 2/3 raisins, 1/3 nuts - which is more raisins than anyone including the California crooners should have to put up with. 

But founder Cole Richman got it right with this one, with just enough to add sweetness and chewy texture. And the spice is unexpected, so while your body's getting a good source of magnesium, copper, vitamin E and fibre, your mind gets blown each time the Moroccan flavours draw their way across your tongue.


I've been fortunate to have been exposed to a ton of dishes and ingredients over my career, but this is the first time I've ever seen buckwheat in a nut mix.

One of the world's healthiest foods, buckwheat is energizing and nutritious, most commonly made into rice and porridge.

But who wants to have look at a bowl of porridge first thing? No thanks. I'll take my buckwheat like this, with a handful of hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, and added sweetness courtesy of dried cherries and apricots.

Loading up on magnesium, vitamin E, fibre, and copper without an ounce of cholesterol and never having to live the life of Goldilocks?

I'll take it.

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In an interview for the Financial Times, Larry David said, "The addition of nuts in salad... I always find to be beneficial."

He's right. They just better be pretty, pretty good like these. Adding any Handfuel mix to your greens is a smart move, as is stuffing them into chicken, fish and roasts and tossing them in various rice and veg dishes. 

But the 're so delectable, I prefer them just on their own.

Handfuel's portable mixes of 190g each dole out enough for a week or two of snacks, depending on how much and often you dig in (case and point, the almond example above) . 

And they're reasonable - $9 to $10 a bag - considering the size, quality and freshness of ingredients (what a difference it makes), and uniqueness of the blends.  The only annoyancen is  you currently have to buy them in quantities of 12, clocking your purchase in at over a c-note.

But Handfuel are some of the best nuts and combinations I've ever had, and I get to enjoy menus from the finest chefs with access to unparalleled ingredients, so is it worth paying up front for just snacks?

Absolutely. 

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