I love snacks just as much as I love any other meal, and trail mix is a favorite. My favorite snacks have a variety of flavors and textures, such as cheese and crackers, veggies and dip, parfaits, and trail mix. My favorite trail mixes are from Kroger grocery store. One is a sweet and salty blend that has sweetened almonds, butterscotch pieces, waffle cone, and caramel stuffed chocolate balls. The other is a spicy, savory blend with peanuts, sesame sticks and almonds that’s just as addictive. Unfortunately, the portion size is ¼ cup for 160 calories and as you can see below, I have to portion these bags out to prevent having too much of a good thing (at the time, I was training for my half marathon and burning a TON of calories, so instead of 160 calories per serving I doubled the servings, which was a win-win for me).

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Kroger’s trail mix is not the only brand or type of snacks that are easy to go overboard on. I hear from patients who avoid nuts in general because they heard it’s bad for them because of too many calories. I also hear the opposite, were patients eat nuts by the bag full because they are healthy. In both populations, I remind them that it’s all about portion size, moderation and nutrients that food provides. With trail mix in particular, calories can add up fast between the nuts, dried fruit, and added chocolate pieces, which is why portion sizes are generally kept low and may not keep your hunger away. Don’t miss our Simply Sweet Trail Mix recipe below!

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For any snack, it’s becoming more common for brands to use buzzwords such as “natural” and “healthy” to sell their products (People, there are now organic, non-GMO Doritos). This is another reminder to look at the Nutrition Facts Label and Ingredients Label to see if the food fits for you. Also, click here for our article on “Natural” Food and Food Label Guide. Also see below for more snacking tips recommended by our RD’s:

 

Watch portions.

It’s so easy to get lost in a bag of chips or jar of almonds when you’re distracted and hungry. Before you know it, the whole thing is gone and you’ve consumed a 600 calorie “snack”. We recommend portioning out one serving size into your own bowl, or pre-portion the whole bag at once into snack size bags like the above picture, to keep calories in balance.

 

Protein + carb mix

To keep you for going back for more of those chips, rethink your snack with a smart pairing. Instead of calorie-dense carbs, switch to a snack pairing with protein and fiber to keep you fuller longer. Examples would be pretzels with peanut butter, or apple slices and Greek yogurt.

 

Pay attention to hunger cues.

Are you really hungry or just bored? Maybe even just thirsty? (check out our hydration blog here). Try stretching or walk for a bit before opening that package to prevent mindless eating.

 

Because I’m so obsessed with Kroger’s trail mix snacks, I wanted to create my own that is filling, fun, and and easy to make. I also love popcorn as a snack because of the variety of flavor you can add, plus it’s high in fiber and 31 calories per cup. Almonds help give you that filling protein and heart-healthy fat along with an extra crunch for variety. Dried cranberries add the sweet to the salty and pair perfectly with the bitter dark chocolate (who doesn’t love chocolate as a snack?). I hope you love this snack as much as I loved creating it!

Simply Sweet Trail Mix

Simply Sweet Trail Mix

By Lisa Kay, MS, RD

Makes 1 Serving

 

INGREDIENTS

1 oz (or 2 Tbsp) dark chocolate chips

3 cups air-popped popcorn, no added salt or butter

¼ cup dried cranberries (try finding no added sugar or reduced sugar)

1 oz dry roasted almonds, unsalted

A pinch of salt

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. After popcorn is cooked, let cool completely before combining all ingredients into a bowl, then serve.

 

NOURISHING NUTRITION (per serving)

Calories: 279

Fat (g): 12

Sodium (mg): 210

Protein (g): 6

Carbs (g): 38

Fiber (g): 5