Healthy Eating Habits: Creating Your Own Trail Mix
It is much easier to create healthy eating habits when you have healthy snack options that also taste great.
Homemade trail mix is a fun, personalized snack you can stash in your school backpack, tuck into the corner of a briefcase, or put in a fanny pack for a day in the city.
Because trail mix usually contains a variety of textures and tastes - sweet, salty, crunchy, and chewy - it satisfies our cravings and appetites. By buying the ingredients in bulk to mix yourself, you can save money and make sure there is nothing in the mix that you have to pick out before eating.
Tips for Creating Your Own Trail Mix
Nuts and Seeds. It is hard to imagine a trail mix without nuts. Nuts provide healthy fats, protein, and fiber that satisfy hunger, and digest slowly for sustained energy. Consider adding a couple types of nuts to your trail mix, about a cup of each. Unsalted, dry roasted, or raw nuts are the healthiest—those with no added oils, sugar, or preservatives.
Try to select nuts with tastes and textures that complement each other, such as rich and buttery cashews with drier and crunchier almonds. For more interest and nutritional value, add some seeds into the mix, maybe sunflower or pumpkin.
Dried Fruits. Dried fruits can be sweet, tart, crunchy, or chewy—add one or two cups to your mix. Popular choices include dried pineapple, bananas, raisins, apples, blueberries, cranberries, or dates.
Fruit contains a significant amount of natural sugar, so the healthiest dried fruits have minimal or no added sugars. Tart fruits sweetened with 100 percent fruit juice are a much better choice than those coated with sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Other Fun Stuff. Think about adding some dark chocolate; it is lower in sugar, loaded with antioxidants, and complements the flavors of many dried fruits. Some people prefer milk chocolate or M&Ms in their trail mix, but the fat, sugar, and calorie content will be much higher.
Other additions might be puffed rice, Chex or Cheerios cereal, granola, small pretzels, oyster, or cheese crackers. To create the healthiest mix possible, use items that are labeled certified organic or non-GMO.
A Trail Mix Recipe
For those of you who prefer following a recipe, try this trail mix that is both sweet and salty.
You will need:
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup salted or unsalted cashews
1 cup banana chips
1 cup oyster crackers
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 to 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
Mix the ingredients together in a large bowel; store in an airtight container.
Source: Neighbor Food
Photo credit: Don DeBold - flickr