A healthy snack that’s fun and simple to make … and it tastes GREAT too!

I had a great time while visiting the Saginaw YMCA on Monday and I must say that it was a learning experience for me as well.  Several participants of the Run For Your Heart / Walking Works Training Program celebrated their half-point and I was privledged to celebrate right along with them.  The MCVI Foundation and the YMCA of Saginaw teamed up to create the Run for Your Heart Fitness and Wellness Program, which is a 9-week training plan designed to help participants complete a 5K run or walk.

Unexpectedly, I learned how to create a delicious snack, one that works wonderfully for anyone who is focusing on living a healthy lifestyle.

Trail mix is a great snack because it can be good for you, it is also easy to make and there are so many different combinations of ingredients that can be included in it.  You can choose the  healthy snack foods that you want to include in the mix and add them together in the amount that works for you.  It was the first time I’ve ever actually been involved in making it even though I’ve consumed trail mix countless times.

Did I mention that making it was easy too?  Just a scoop of this and a cup of that and voila, you have a nutritious and delicious trail mix!

Each participant enjoyed making their own personal bag of trail mix and I noticed that each had their favorite items that they were surprised to find were okay to include in the trail mix.   Some individuals commented that they will start bringing trail mix to work and snack on that instead of digging into the company candy dish.  Others stated they knew their children would love making their own trail mix and that it was a great idea for the school lunch box.

Keeping a bag in the car was also discussed for those times when the hunger pains strike and can be resolved by simply munching on trail mix, making it easier to avoid those unhealthy fast-food options!   Just keep in mind that according to the USDA, a serving of trail mix as 1.5 oz., which is about one medium handful. A serving this size contains 203 calories, which varies according to the ingredients.

Here is a look at the different types of ingredients that you might want to include when making your own trail mix:

• Seeds. Seeds are a great addition to trail mix because they are healthy for you and easy to snack on.  Shelled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds are popular choices.

• Nuts. Any type of nut can be included in trail mix, such as walnuts or raw almonds.  Peanuts and cashews are also great choices and add a mild taste to a trail mix without any overwhelming flavors.

• Cereals.   Add some of your favorite cereals to your trail mix:  granola, bran flakes, shredded wheat, cheerios … try to avoid sugary cereal and look for ones that contain 10 grams of sugar or less per serving.

• Popcorn, crackers and pretzels.   These items really add crunch to your trail mix!  My advice is to find those crackers that will not crumble into bits.  Air-popped or low-fat microwave popcorn is an ingredient that I enjoy the most, but you will want to consume the trail mix soon as the popcorn will lose its crunch quickly.

• Dried fruit.  This is an ingredient that will satisfy your sweet tooth when added to trail mix.  Basically any type of dried fruit will work:  raisins, dried bananas, dried cranberries, dried apples, dried papaya, figs … the list is almost endless here.

• Sweets Dark chocolate is a favorite ingredient for many and the good news is “It’s good for you too!”   Another suggestion is yogurt-covered fruits.  Please remember that that these things melt so if you’re taking your trail mix somewhere warm and you don’t want it to be messy then you should skip these items in your trail mix.

Our own Grace Derocha not only enjoys trail mix, but she has a wonderful “No-Bake Trail Mix Breakfast Cookie Bite” recipe that I know you’ll find almost as simple to prepare as trail mix itself.

Do you have any healthy items that you will be adding to your trail mix that I didn’t mention?

Photo credit allieosmar

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