Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Snack Attack! Homemade Trail Mix

I am not a dietitian, doctor, or any other way an expert. The advice I have is simply what has worked for me and my knowledge gained through hours of reading on nutrition and food each day.  

I started this blog to document my journey to healthy living. As it's progressed, it's become almost entirely food-based. Which is good. Because the food is my favorite part. ;) But, with a recent re-evaluation of my nutrition, my progress on my goals, etc...I need to refocus. I still have 20 pounds to lose before reaching my goal. Which, to those who know me, sounds insane, I know. And thank you for all of the "No! You don't need to lose weight!" comments...but I really do. I'm much shorter than most people realize because I live in heels. Which means 149 lbs (my current weight) is right there next to the overweight category.

It's frustrating being on such a long journey. It's been over two years since I started to lose weight. I have lost 35 pounds since then. Which is remarkable, and I know that. But, it feels so far away. I was almost 10 pounds lighter last October so it's been a while since I've been successful at weight loss. And past success isn't as comforting as present success, is it? But that's even more reason to start over! It may be that I lose 15 pounds and feel fine. I may only lose 10, gain a ton of muscle, and become the next Iron woman. BAHAHAHA. But I definitely can't stay where I am.

Now, what does all of this have to do with trail mix? a part of re-evaluating my nutrition, I've come up with some excellent new additions to my daily meals. After extensive research, I've found several foods that were missing from my diet that could help me on my final stretch of weight loss. And who doesn't want to share that?! :)

I get a lot of questions about what I eat throughout the day. Everyday, I have three (relatively small) meals and three snacks. This works for me; I'm a snacker. I also have a job where I can eat snacks throughout the day. If I didn't, then I would have create an eating schedule that works. I make sure that my snacks are healthy and not processed. I used to eat granola bars, but they did not keep me full and made me feel sluggish. I also have to make sure that they're not too messy, easy to eat, and inexpensive. No matter how much I love fresh, organic berries, I cannot afford them as a daily snack! Here are some current and past snacks:
  • Baby carrots
  • Apples
  • Bananas (definitely organic - they taste completely different!)
  • Nuts and/or dried fruit
  • Celery and Peanut Butter
  • Organic string cheese with whole wheat crackers
  • Greek yogurt 
My afternoon snack for almost 2 years has been almonds. I love them and they're healthy for me. But, no offense to my almonds, they began to get boring. Then, I would just skip them and be starving by the time I got home and shove the first thing I found into my mouth. I had an idea to change to trail mix to give myself variety. I bought a bag for $4.49 at TJ's and it only lasted a week and a day. Later that week, I was at Whole Foods when I started looking at the trail mixes. The prices were about the same and I really couldn't find any variety that I liked. So, then, I saw the giant bags of nuts, seeds, and fruit and decided to buy exactly what I wanted and make a huge batch. 

When choosing your nuts and seeds, be sure that the ingredients match up. If they're raw almonds, make sure that the only ingredient is almonds, as it should be. Also, I got the cashews and sunflower kernels salted and the almonds unsalted to control the salt a bit. I got roasted because they are crunchier than raw and add texture.

With dried fruit, it's doubly important to read the ingredients. They should be simple (read: cherries, sugar). Dried fruit has gotten a bad rap in the past because of its high sugar. Well, this is true...if you eat 1/4 a bag at a time. But I think dried fruit adds flavor to an otherwise boring snack. And it does provide some of the same benefits as fruit when eaten in controlled portions. I would just stick to one, maybe two, fruit selections to keep the sugar down. And always in small amounts. 

Brilliant Trail Mix
makes about 11 3/4 cups
  • 4 cups almonds, roasted and unsalted (16 oz bag)
  • 4 cups cashews, roasted and salted (16 oz bag)
  • 2 cups dried, sweetened cherries (8 oz bag)
  • 1 3/4 cups sunflower kernels, roasted and salted (1/2 16 oz package)

Get a big bowl. I'm not joking, BIG. This was very difficult for me in this bowl. Mix the nuts together first to ensure distribution.

Add the cherries and kernels. In hindsight, the kernels would be better added to each separate container because they like to sink to the bottom. Pour into air tight containers to store.

Viola! The beauty of this is that you can mix and match to your tastes and nutritional needs. If you don't like dried fruit, you could always use some sort of chocolate to sweeten it. However, you'll get probably more sugar per serving without the other nutritional benefits of dried fruit.

Nutritional Information (per 1/4 cup): 160 calories, 12.5g fat (1.5g sat) 10g carbs, 2g fiber, 5g protein

Wondering where the rest of that fat is? Oh, it's just 3.7g polyunsaturated and 6g monounsatured. Ya know, those fats that increase good cholesterol and fight bad cholesterol at the same time. They also provide energy and help with vitamin absorption. (source) Most of that comes from the sunflower kernels - they're nutritional powerhouses! So try to keep them in your mix when you choose your nuts and seeds. And in case you were wondering, only 3.7g sugar!

And if I couldn't rave about this snack more, let's check the price. There are 47 servings in this trail mix. 47! That's a month and a half! And it only cost $14.82! That's only $2.47 per week.

Any ideas on what should be in next month's mix??


Krista said...

I wish I could generate more of the inner-foodie inside me on the blog, but for some reason I just can't balance things like delicious monstrous bowls of oatmeal and weight loss. Wonder why? haha

That trail mix looks good. I love nuts and I love how good they are for you, but I hate how calorically dense they are. Seriously, 160 calories for a serving? Don't they realize that I LOVE to eat?!

Jenny @ Fitness Health and Food said...

your trail mix looks great. I make a similar one but it's limited to cashews raisins and chocolate as they are my favs!

It's long journey but it sounds like your doing it in a healthy and reasonably way. Best wishes! :)

Samantha said...

Your trail mix looks delicious and so healthy! I wish you all the luck in the world on losing the 20 lbs. you have left to go! I've never embarked on a weight loss journey, but after my baby is born, I probably will have to in order to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight! I'm a little nervous about it, because I've seen how difficult it can be! But I also know if we put our minds to something, we can definitely accomplish it. :)

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