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Welcome. This blog site, healthy eating and food safety, has been discontinued as of June 23, 2017. I look forward to your comments and feedback regarding use of this tool to disseminate educational information.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Trail Mix Still a Popular Snack

Trail Mix Still a Popular Snack
Trail mix these days goes way beyond basic Gorp made with raisins and peanuts. From sweet to savory, there are thousands of combinations to appeal to any palate or snack craving. Combine any favorite (dry) ingredients and stash the mix in an airtight container in a cool, dry location to prevent spoilage, and you’re good to go.

The combination of nuts, raisins and chocolate as a trail snack dates at least to the 1910s, when outdoorsman Horace Kephart recommended it in his popular camping guide. For those same reasons, trail mix can pack a hefty caloric punch, especially it is eaten mindlessly. Keep serving size to a quarter-cup or less.
Mix ‘n’ Match—Ingredients

  • Nuts are full of healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E, and other essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Whether they’re raw or roasted, go for unsalted, unsweetened nuts to keep sugar and sodium under control.
  • Options: Almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts. Higher-calorie macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, and pine nuts are also good options in moderation.
  • For those with nut allergies (or just looking to mix things up), seeds provide many of the same nutritional benefits as nuts.  Sprinkle a handful of pumpkin, sunflower or sesame in trail mix for an extra boost of nutrients.
Dried Fruit
  • Due to the amount of sugar in dried fruit, pay attention to the ingredient list and serving sizes. In moderation, dried fruit can be a great source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Look for dried fruit options with as little added sugar and preservatives as possible.
  • Options: Dried apples, cherries, cranberries, goji berries, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, raisins, banana chips, figs, pineapple chunks, mango, and dates.
  • Add some complex carbohydrates to your custom blend for extra fiber, which boosts overall energy and helps to keep you full .
  • Choose whole grains whenever possible and avoid highly processed cereals that add unnecessary sugar and sodium.
  • Options: Shredded wheat cereal, pretzels, whole-grain cereals like Cheerios or Chex, bran flakes, whole-wheat crackers, granola, toasted oats, puffed rice cereal, and air-popped popcorn can all add a little bit of crunch.
  • Sweets are often added to trail mix.  If adding a sweet, use a minimal amount.
  • Options:  M&Ms, chips of various kinds (chocolate, peanut butter, carob, butterscotch), cacao nibs, yogurt-covered raisins, chocolate-covered coffee beans, mini marshmallows, or chocolate-covered nuts. When going the chocolate route, choose dark varieties for extra antioxidants.
Savory Extras
  • Once the building blocks are all set, adding spices is a great way to change up the flavor a bit. Season the mix with sea salt, curry, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or cayenne pepper. Or create your own mix of spices.

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