Main Nutritious Intent Website

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

Monday, August 10, 2015

Grocery Shopping: Front Lines for Nutritional Health

4 rules will help you stay healthy while you navigate that shopping cart:

1.    Plan your menu out in advance.  Don’t just list the main dish, but make note of side dishes, and healthful snack items you’re planning on eating during the week.
2.    Make your grocery list from your menu.  If you have the ingredients for a week’s worth of meals on hand, you can swap the order of your menu if you find your mood changes come dinnertime without resorting to less healthy convenience items.
3.    Make buying produce a priority.  Depending on the season you will probably want to go with a balance of fresh and frozen produce.  Remember that if half of what  you eat should be plants, half of your grocery cart should be full of produce.
4.    Plan and purchase snacks mindfully.  If it isn’t in the house, we aren’t going to eat it, so make sure to buy with healthful snacking in mind.  For example popcorn, nuts, individually wrapped dark chocolate, and lower sugar frozen yogurts may fill your snacking and fit the nutrition bill as well.

Tips by store section:

Bakery/Grains: 3 grams or more fiber per serving

 Produce: In season and variety are key

Butcher: Go meatless a couple nights a week and vary your animal protein sources

Canned Fruits: Watch out for added sugar

Canned Veggies: Watch out for added sodium

Dairy: Choose low-fat & unsweetened

Are You Eating Smart and Making the Grade? Here’s How to Feed Your Brain:

Whether you are starting preschool or law school, you'll want to make sure you're getting the right balance of nutrients to stay sharp.

Carbohydrates are what fuels our brains.  Make sure you’re getting a good variety of whole grains daily.  Fruits and vegetables can also contribute healthy-fuel carbohydrates.

Healthful fats from a variety of sources keep your circulation healthy and reduce inflammation not just for your heart, but for your brain as well.  Salmon, Tuna, Walnuts, Pumpkin seeds and Flaxseed oil are all great sources of heart and brain healthy fats that we often just call Omega-3s.  Remember that what is healthy for your heart is healthy for your brain.

Protein: A good balance of nutrients is important and a little protein at mealtimes help keep you fuller longer, as well as supply your body with the building blocks it needs to make neurotransmitters, hormones and other essential compounds for healthy brain function.

How to work these components in? 
  •       Pair a whole grain with a protein and a fruit for a great, long-lasting breakfast. (Top yogurt with fruit, & nuts and serve with whole grain toast)
  •       Include some healthy seeds and nuts in a trail mix for your child’s lunch sack or after-school snack. 

Crunch Combo Trail Mix:

1/2 cup dried cherries, 2 cups whole-grain Rice Chex, 1/2 cup roasted pistachios, 3 cups Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal
1/2 cup mix = 119 calories 3.3 g fiber

Chocolate-lover's Trail Mix:

2 cups cheerios, ½ cup pepitas, ¼ cup raisins, ¼ cup semisweet mini chocolate chips

1/3 cup mix =  120 calories, 2 g fiber