Snacks. Do you partake? Those stomach growls - do they get your attention? Sometimes, we do need a bit of something to get our body to the next stop. I wrote about snacking here and how to do it right. Although frequent snacking may not be a good idea, there are situations that you may need to turn to snacking.
We can't always predict when that ravenous hunger and stomach pangs will strike. That traffic jam may have just gotten a whole lot longer, the game is going into its second overtime, you have to work late and no time for dinner - they all could pose unpredictable times. So, for those occasions and other times you invent, here is a snack that you can create ahead of time to keep your energy boosted, hunger pangs diminished, and body fortified: trail mix. Keep some in your child's backpack, your desk drawer, your tote bag or in your sports bag for when hunger calls.
Why make your own trail mixSure, there are lots of premade trail mixes on the market and some of them taste great, But, here are several reasons to make your own trail mix rather than buy the premade:
- It is cheaper than the premade.
- It won't contain unhealthily oils, over-salted foods, too much sugar or preservatives.
- It is filling, nourishing, and satisfying.
- You control what goes in it (unsalted nuts, low sugar, etc.) making it a lot healthier for you.
- It is full of things you like and you don't have to pick through the bits you don't.
- It is fresher and lasts a long time.
- It is easy to make.
- It allows for creativity.
What to include in your DIY trail mixWhat to throw in your trail mix? Whatever you like really - as long as it does your body good! But, generally, here are the categories of what you might like to mix in: the chunks, the bits and the flavorings. Assemble the parts and let you and your family create an interesting fusion of sorts.
The chunks: The main body, so to speak, of your trail mix could consist of things like these:
Nuts; Almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, pecans pine nuts, macadamia nuts -- all those tiny nuggets are loaded with healthy fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Keep to unsalted and lay off the sugar coated ones too! Some nuts carry more fat than others but a small handful or two is fine.
Dried fruit. Organic dried apples, cherries, cranberries, goji berries, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, raisins, banana chips, figs, pineapple chunks, mango, and dates really sweeten the deal. They do add vitamins, fiber and minerals as well, but because of the sugar, keep the proportion in check with the dried fruits.
Grains: Air popped organic popcorn, whole grain crackers, toasted oats, whole grain cereals, granola, wasabi crackers, whole wheat graham crackers can all give the combination crunch and fiber.
The bits: Sprinkle in these guys for a bonus:
Seeds. Pumpkin, sesame (black and white), flax (ground only), hemp, sunflower to name a few - they can add omega 3s, protein and minerals as well.
Sweet and spicy stuff: coconut flakes, A pinch of your favorite chips (dark chocolate, cacao nibs, butterscotch, peanut butter) Greek yogurt covered fruit, dark chocolate covered nuts, crystallized ginger, wasabi peas all add interest. Again, just keep the sweet stuff to a pinch or two.
The flavoring: Get creative and bring on the flavor with these:
Drizzles: A touch of honey, date syrup or maple syrup perhaps or a citrus punch of a drop or two of lemon, orange or lime juice can really add some zing.
Seasonings: Pink salt, nutmeg, cinnamon,, cayenne pepper, dried ginger, cardamom, Chinese five spice, chipotle powder, garlic powder and many others can make the mixture really come together.
Trail Mix Combos - American styleNeed some inspiration? Allow me to get you started. Try one of these U.S. regional themed trail mix combos along with a snack imitating a favorite American dessert and the favorite sandwich of a beloved and iconic American singer:
Elvis Swing- peanuts, almonds, peanut butter chips, cocoa nibs, dried bananas, pumpkin seeds, ground flax seeds with a drizzle of honey
Hot Apple Pie: cinnamon, dried apples, walnuts, toasted oats, raisins, pink salt, maple granola
Southern Charm; pecans, pinch of cayenne, pink salt, cinnamon, butterscotch chips, bran flakes, pumpkin seeds, drizzle of vanilla infused maple syrup
New York Cheesecake: cashews, dried cherries, whole grain graham cracker pieces, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, white chocolate chips
Texas Barbecue: sun-dried tomato bits, whole grain honey mustard pretzels, pine nuts, chipotle powder, sunflower seeds, wasabi peas, pink salt, drizzle of honey
California Coastline: dried date bits, almonds, hemp seeds, coconut flakes, gogi berries, dried strawberries
Louisiana Crawl: Brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, sea salt, garlic powder, chili powder, ground cumin, cayenne pepper. touch of coconut sugar or date syrup and a drop of lime juice
Do you have a favorite healthy snack you keep in your bag for those unexpected times? Let's hear your ideas or a recipe link, please!
photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/37094770@N04/4077597380/">Max Penn</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>