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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trail Mix Navigation 101

There are loads of trail mixes out there with a new recipe for the crunchy snack popping up all the time.  However, not all trail mixes are created equal.  It can be confusing to determine what trail mixes are delicious, but the equivalent of a candy bar in bag form, what trail mixes will go stale because they are what my family refers to as "twigs and bark" and what mixes are a happy combination of flavor and nutrition.  Here are a few tips to healthfully navigate the tricky world of trail mix:

  • Visual Appeal.  It is true that we eat with our eyes first, however, if it is too colorful (candies, white chocolate and butterscotch chips making up the bulk) then beware.  Your sugar content is likely too high and nutrient content such as fiber, vitamins and minerals too low.
  • 3 Food Groups Represented.  Nuts and dried fruits, while healthful are very calorie dense so watch portion size with those combinations.  A better option is to choose a mix of 3 food groups.  Whole grains provide fiber, complex carbohydrates and protein for longer fullness and energy, dried fruits provide a quicker energy source as well as some vitamins and minerals and nuts or seeds will balance it out with some healthful fats for satiety, as well as some protein and vitamins and minerals also.  
  • Pre-Portion Wisely.  Most trail mixes will contain 100-200 calories per 1/2 cup serving.  Pre-portioning not only keeps your serving size in check, but it ups the convenience factor as you are a packing a lunch or grabbing a snack before soccer practice. 
Cherry Chocolate Brownie Trail Mix

Here are 4 Trail Mix recipes that mix it up nutrient-wise and flavor-wise.

Traditional Trail Mix
2 cups bran flakes
2 cups Kashi Crisp
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup reduced sugar dried cranberries
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1/2 cup = 160 calories, 4 g fiber, 5 sugar, 6 g protein

Savory Trail Mix
2 cups wheat squares cereal (Chex)
2 cups multigrain pretzels
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup smokehouse almonds
1/2 cup cornnuts

1/2 cup = 125 calories, 3 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 4 g protein

Apple Pie Trail Mix
1 cup apple cinnamon Cheerios
1 cup cinnamon graham cereal
1 cup dried apples (pieces)
1/2 cup yogurt-covered raisins
1/2 cup pecan halves

1/2 cup = 155 calories, 2 g fiber, 18 g sugar, 2 g protein

Cherry Chocolate Brownie Trail Mix
1 cup wheat square cereal (Chex)
3 cups Cocoa Puffs Brownie Crunch cereal
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup lightly salted peanuts
1/2 cup dark chocolate M&Ms

1/2 cup = 145 calories, 2 g fiber, 14 g sugar, 3 g protein

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