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Whether you’re hiking through the mountains or running errands in town, trail mix can be a delicious and portable snack. But snackers beware: Although trail mix sounds healthy, some ingredients can actually end up causing more harm than good.
If you’re looking for that perfect balance of sweet and salty without sacrificing nutritional value, we’ve compiled some tips and tricks to help you make the most delicious, yet healthy mix ever in honor of National Trail Mix Day!
Case of the Sweet Tooth
If you’re craving something sweet, put down the M&Ms and try adding some shredded coconut instead. Although the colorful chocolate candies are famous for their use in traditional trail mix recipes, shredded coconut packs a more nutritious punch! In addition to being tasty and sweet, coconut is a great source of protein and fiber. We recommend this recipe for trail mix with coconut, pistachio, dried apricot and almond.
Salty and Sweet
Although salty peanuts are considered a trail mix staple, switching to lightly salted cashews can be a healthier change of pace. Although peanuts pack more protein, they also pack more fat. Cashews, on the other hand, offer higher percentages of minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and zinc, which help keep your nerves and muscles in tip-top shape. If you still prefer peanuts, don’t worry—the main switch should be from an overly salted nut to a low or no salt nut. Try this recipe for a mix with almonds and banana chips. Your body will thank you for skipping out on the extra sodium!
For the Fans of the Dried Fruit
Dried fruit is a trail mix favorite, but be careful, dried fruit sold in stores is often pumped with artificial sweeteners. Be sure to check labels before putting it into your basket. Avoid the added sugar so you can reap benefits such as lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases. While you’re at it, try this trail mix recipe that lets you mix and match your unsweetened fruit— choose from cranberries, raisins, apricots, pears, apples and more!
Don’t forget the essentials!
When choosing your ingredients, maximize your mix by relying on these two essentials:
- Raw or roasted nuts with low or no salt: Packing in the right amount of fiber, protein, and vitamins can be tricky, so make sure about half the mix is composed of mixed nuts. And remember—always go minimal to no salt!
- Unsweetened, naturally dried fruit: Get your daily dose of vitamins A, C and K from assorted dried fruits. If you have leftover fruit in the kitchen, try drying it out at home. This guide takes you step-by-step through the fruit drying process.
One last thing to remember—portion control is key! It can be easy to accidentally overeat this delicious snack, so limit yourself to a quarter cup per serving using baggies or reusable containers.
Do you have any favorite homemade trail mix recipes? Want to share more healthy snacking tips? Share with us in the comments below!