Sweet n’ Salty Trail Mix

I would definitely consider myself a snacker. Whether I’m craving something salty, sweet, or a little bit of both, my hand somehow always finds its way into the snack cabinet. Rather than fight it, I fully embrace my snacking tendencies and try to set myself up with some accessible, healthy snacks. One of my favorite quick treats to make is homemade trail mix. And yes, I know, the quickest trail mix recipe involves a trip to the grocery store. Bagged trail mix however is sometimes not the most nutritious option, with candy hidden between nuts and dried fruit secretly containing more sugar than a Hershey’s bar per serving. I love to make my own trail mix because I know exactly what is going into the mix, and I can get creative with flavors! The key formula I follow is this: nuts + grains + something sweet = healthy and delicious trail mix! This is one of my favorite combinations and full of goodness for your body. Who says snacking is a bad thing anyway?
According to our formula, the first ingredients are nuts. For this recipe, I used one cup of unsalted almonds and one cup of lightly salted cashews. Use whatever type of nut strikes your fancy, some other tasty choices are macadamia nuts, peanuts, and pecans. Nuts pretty much all provide the same essential heart healthy fats that can be found in foods such as avocados and olive oil. Just a handful of nuts added to any meal add valuable protein, fiber, and unsaturated fats, and help lower cholesterol and prevent weight gain!

 Next I added my grains. Granola can be used for this category, but I usually stick with cereal for an aspect of the trail mix that is a little less dense. One of my favorite cereals to use is Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal. It is low in sugar and sodium but packs a pretty solid punch of fiber (5 grams per serving) and whole grains (20 grams per serving). I also know how to pronounce everything on the ingredient list so that’s always a plus! Other cereals I often use are Kashi Simply Maize, Cheerios (try the chocolate ones!) and Trader Joe’s Wheat Bran Flakes. Cereal is low in fat and sugar while being high in fiber, a necessary component for keeping you full all day! Add two cups of cereal to the mix.

  
Let’s not forget something sweet…If you’ve read any other of my posts you probably already know that this means dark chocolate. I can not get enough of this stuff! I chopped up 1/4 of a cup of 70% cocoa dark chocolate. The higher the cocoa percentage the better, that means there is less room for fat and sugar! Dark chocolate is actually full of antioxidants and even causes your body to release “feel good” chemicals. I know I feel good after having a square or two (or five). You can also use coconut shavings or dried fruit, but make sure there is no added sugar and keep an eye on the nutrition facts. Fruit is naturally sugary which is fine when we eat it whole, 10 cherries has very little sugar compared to some granola bars. But dried cherries are about the size of a fingernail, and you can easily down 30 of them at a sitting. The sugar of thirty cherries, even though it is natural, will overwhelm your body and will be stored as fat.

 To add a little extra crunch, I made some Skinny Girl popcorn and used two cups for my trail mix. This popcorn has only 25 calories per cup and is basically just popcorn kernels and olive oil. Simple is always better when it comes to food.

 That’s it! Just add all of the ingredients to a large plastic bag and shake it around until thoroughly mixed. This recipe has about 150 nutritious calories for every 1/3 of a cup serving, and will satisfy your sweet tooth and salt craving the healthy way!  Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 2 cups Honey Sunshine Cereal
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate
  • 2 cups Skinny Girl popcorn

Directions:

Add to a large bag, shake, and enjoy!

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