DIY: Trail Mix

I hope you all had the happiest/merriest hannukah/x-mas/kwanza. Now onto trail mix. It’s a great snack.  And, it’s so easy to make.  Making it at home will save money AND involve your kids if you let them choose and mix the ingredients.

Nuts are a nutritional power house – they provide healthy fats, fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin E, and protein that help satiate us. Dried fruit provides vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.

However, beware tail mix is calorically dense, meaning it’s high in calories for the portion. That’s because dried fruit, as the name indicates, is fruit that has been dried of water, leaving only the concentrated fruit sugar. And, nuts are high in the “good” un-saturated fats (healthy fats are still calories). Despite the high calories, the other healthy factors (vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, protein) make it a nutritionally dense food that can be a great snack. Like most good things in life that have limits, so too with trail mix. Portion control is key. We’re talking 1/4 cup or  about a handful.

Simple Steps to Do-It-Yourself Trail Mix:

1. 1 cup of nuts of your choice, preferably unsalted (almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, brazilian nuts)

2. 1 cup dried fruit of your choice (raisins, cranberries, diced apricots, diced prunes, diced dates)

3. 1/4 cup dark chocolate if you’re really craving chocolate

4. 1/4 cup seeds of your choice to boost the fiber load (flax, pumpkin, sunflower seed)

5. Add a dash of sea salt — it’s better to buy unsalted nuts and add in the salt yourself this way you can control how much salt goes in there. Feeling crazy? Spice around. A dash of chili or cayenne powder never hurt a handful of nuts.

6. Mix all together. Store in plastic bags at room temperature(if your house gets hot, put it in the fridge to prevent the chocolate from melting).

Viola! Quick and easy. Key to portion control – don’t eat out straight out of the bag or else there’s no stopping. I’d suggest dividing ~1/4 cup portions into separate little baggies, but that wouldn’t be very earth-friendly now would it?