My go-to snack these days has been trail mix. Sometimes I buy pre-packaged mixes and sometimes I buy it in bulk and portion it out. But it's actually really easy to make, especially if you tend to have trail mix essentials on hand already. All you have to do is mix up a batch and portion it out. Many people tend to shy away from trail mix because it can be high in fat and calories, but that's exactly why you should be eating it. The fats are the healthy version, which are essential for hormone production, protection of organs and serve as a virtually unlimited energy source. Trail mix doesn't have to be fancy and with a few ingredients you probably already have, you can mix up a nutritionally powerful snack that can satisfy your sweet or salty tooth, keep you full and prevent that 3pm slump by preventing spikes and crashes in blood sugar that other snacks can cause.
When it comes to mixing up your mix, I'm of the Keep it Simple, Stupid mentality. Here are my go-to trail mix components:
Nuts are a great source of unsaturated fats, protein and fiber, vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. Opt for unsalted and raw nuts if possible. If raw isn't your thing, look for nuts that are dry roasted. I like to stick with almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts but you can add others such as Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and macadamia nuts though these are higher in calories. I typically buy all of my nuts in the bulk food section of the grocery store, which helps to keep costs down. You can also buy them in bulk online at places like Nuts.com.
Seeds have many of the same nutrients and health benefits as nuts and offer a little more texture to your trail mix. Again, aim for raw and unsalted versions of your favorite seeds. My favorites include pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, hemp and chia seeds. You get a lot of nutritional bang for your buck when you add seeds to anything! I'm also lucky enough to buy my seeds in bulk at the grocery store. You can get the most common seeds online as well.
A bag of nuts and seeds may not appeal to everyone, so adding some dried fruit can add a little sweetness, as well as more fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Make sure your dried fruit doesn't have any added sweeteners or preservatives as some manufacturers add them to sweeten the fruit and keep it fresher on the shelves. I like dried cranberries, blueberries, raisins, cherries, chopped pineapples and banana chips. Sometimes I'm able to get my fruits in bulk, but not always. Just make sure you're getting fruits without added sugars, fillers or preservatives.
This is where I end when mixing up my mix. But I know many people like to add chocolate, coconut flakes and other sweet item. I recommend using mini dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs and only adding 1/4 cup per entire mix. This will add about 50-60 calories to your serving, so keep that in mind.
What you can do to boost the flavor of your mix is sprinkle on your favorite spices such as sea salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, ground ginger, chipotle powder or cinnamon. Really, the sky is the limit with spices.
Once you've made up your master mix, portion it out into portable containers or bags. The typical serving size for trail mix is 1/4 cup. It's not very much, but again, this is a snack and you don't need to eat more than 200-300 calories for a snack. Might as well make it a good snack!
Here's the recipe in the photo:
1/4 cup raw hemp seeds
1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup dried cherries, blueberries and raisins
Mix it all together. This makes about 4 1/4-cup servings at about 260 calories per serving.
Have you made your own trail mix before? What are your favorite trail mix add-ins?