Today I’m taking a break from the world of Japanese bentos to bring you something very Swiss. It’s very simple, but there’s beauty and logic in the simplicity.
This is a simple mixture of dried fruits and nuts, called Studentenfutter in the German speaking parts of Switzerland, as well as in Germany and Austria. Studentenfutter literally means “student feed”. It’s most often sold in slim, recloseable cone-shaped bags as shown above, which fit neatly into backpacks and briefcases, or in resealable zip bags. The bag in the photo contains 200 grams and costs 2.80 CHF (about US $2.70). The dried fruit consists of golden and black raisins, and the nuts are unskinned almonds, pecans, walnuts and hazelnuts, plus a few peeled cashews and pine nuts. The ratio of fruit to nuts by weight is 60% to 40%.
(As with most Swiss packaged goods the product name is printed in 3 languages: in German Studentenfutter; in French Mélange Randonée (hiking mix); in Italian Miscela di fruitta secca e noci (mixed dried fruits and nuts).)
This is a classic poor student’s snacking mix, that has traditionally kept Swiss and German university students going. Albert Einstein went to the Federal Institute of Technology here in Zürich, so chances are his body and brain were kept going by this mix too. The nuts provide the good kind of fats and protein, and the dried fruit provides sugar in slow-release little packets. And the fiber in it all keeps the plumbing going. In terms of ‘student feed’ this mix has to be one of the healthiest out there. Compare this to the classic Japanese ‘student feed’ - cup noodles, instant ramen, and takeout bentos with lots of fried food.
It’s not low calorie (100 grams contains about 450 calories) but is surely more healthy than sugary candy bars, and is just as portable. There is no added sugar, salt or excessive oils (a little vegetable oil is used to roast the nuts), so you may miss those things (which are frequently added to American trail mixes and granola and the like), but the natural flavors of the nuts and fruit really shine through.
Choose a selection of dry roasted or raw nuts; most of the nuts should have their skins on, for extra fiber. Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, etc. are all good. I like to drop in a few buttery macadamia nuts too.
The dried fruit mixture can be anything you like too. Watch out for dried fruit that have added sugar if you’re watching your sugar intake. Classic fruit are raisins and sultanas, but you could use anything you like - pineapple, cranberries, apple, mango, apricots, etc.
Mix together the nuts and fruit at a 40:60 ratio by weight (you can vary this to your taste). If I mix my own, I like to divide it into 50 gram packets, which contain around 220 calories each, since I have a habit of wanting to finish a whole packet of food at a time. If I am running around, nibbling from the pack keeps me going between meals - a great supplement to my lunchtime bento.
Store in a cool, dark, dry place for the longest shelf life.
(Granted, the other favorite Student Feed in Switzerland is chocolate bars…)