Creating a Simple, Healthy Trail Mix

Many store-bought trail mixes are loaded with unnecessary sugar, fat, and sodium.  Why settle for someone else's inferior product, when you can whip up your own healthy, flavorful snack in just a few minutes?  All you need is a large bowl and three to five simple ingredients.

Mix together: a cup of your favorite (unsweetened) unrefined carbohydrate/whole grain, a cup of (dry roasted, unsalted) nuts, a cup of (unsweetened) dried fruit and/or dark chocolate chips, and a dash of your favorite spice.  (See below for details and ideas.) Use a 1/4 cup scoop and snack-size zip lock bags to divide your custom mix into 12 pre-portioned snacks.  Each 1/4 cup serving should provide 100-200 calories, depending on the ingredients you choose. Here are some ideas for each category:

Air Popped Popcorn
One Cup (Total) of Unrefined Carbohydrate/Whole Grain
Carbohydrate is the body's preferred source of energy.  Choose an unrefined carbohydrate for a good source of dietary fiber:
          • Air-popped popcorn
          • Shredded wheat
          • Puffed brown rice or corn cereal

One Cup (Total) of Nuts
Raw Almonds
Adding nuts (protein and unsaturated fat) to carbohydrate slows the rate that sugar breaks down, providing you with sustainable energy.  Choose one or two raw or dry roasted, unsalted nuts that are high in monounsaturated fat (the healthiest fat): 
      • Peanuts
      • Almonds
      • Pistachio nuts
      • Cashews

One Cup (Total) of Unsweetened Dried Fruit and/or Dark Chocolate Chips
 Choose one or two of the following to satisfy your sweet tooth, and provide additional nutrients/fiber or antioxidants:
Golden Raisins
          • Raisins (Iron)
          • Dried cranberries (Antioxidants)
          • Dried apples (Soluble fiber)
          • Apricots (Vitamin A)
          • Dates (Fiber)
          • Mango (Potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A)
          • Dark chocolate chips (Antioxidants)

(Optional) Dash of Spice
Instead of adding salt, choose one or more of the following to add flavor:
      • Cinnamon
      • Ginger
      • Paprika
      • Garlic powder
      • Onion powder
      • Cumin
      • Chili Powder