Ingredients to make yummy trail mix

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

by Aisa Trice, MS, RD/LD

What is an easy snack that can be eaten on the go but still healthy?

Healthy smart snacking sounds easy right? However some of the convenient healthy snacks are packed with hidden sugar and sodium.  There are many different snacks that can be prepared ahead of time that can have limited amount of sodium or sugar. One easy snack that comes to mind is trail mix. It’s a snack that not only appeals to those who enjoy savory snacking but those who enjoy something sweeter. It’s easy to make a large batch and separate into appropriate snack size potions.  It is also a snack that can be eaten on the go.

Trail mix is primarily made of a variety of different nuts, seeds and dried fruit. Sometimes chocolate can be added for an added sweetness. Each ingredient has it rage of health benefits from plant based protein to a good source of healthy fats or even fiber.

When deciding to make your own trail mix, look for a variety of different nuts that do not have any added salt.  Try to purchase nuts that can be bought in the bulk section of the grocery store that are labeled “raw.” Nuts such as peanuts, almonds, pecans, and cashews are a great source of protein. They are all vegan friendly as well. Nuts are also a great source of omega 3’s. Omega 3’s are what we consider a “healthy fat” and can aid in eye health, heart health, as well as brain development in pregnancy and early life.  Almonds specifically are a great source of fiber. Fiber helps aid in bowel health and can help with regulating blood sugars.  Seeds such as pumpkin or sunflower are also commonly found in trail mix.  Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are good sources of B vitamins, which help lower cholesterol and aid in immune health.

When it comes to choosing something to add sweetness, try adding dried fruit or dark chocolate. Dried cranberry, cherries or even raisins are great options. Look for dried fruit that has “no added sugar” or “50% less sugar”. Making your own dried fruit is also a way to reduce the amount of added sugar.  Cranberries, raisins and dark chocolate are a good source of antioxidants which can reduce the risk of heart disease.  Dark chocolate also provides other nutrients like magnesium, iron, and fiber.

As you can see most of the ingredients in trail mix provide a great source of antioxidants and help with reducing risk for heart related diseases.  Below is a simple recipe I like to use. You can always swap out any ingredient or add additional ingredients if desired. Fun fact: August 31 is National Trail Mix Day and what’s a better way to celebrate than making your own!

Trail mix recipe:

  • 3/4 cup raw almonds pecans
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup raw peanuts
  • 1/4 cup of unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup 50% less sugar dried cranberries(l like the pomegranate infused)
  • 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4tsp of salt (if desired)

Instructions:

  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl
  • Store in individual portioned Ziploc bags or in an air tight container