Tasty, wholesome, portable and convenient — there’s a lot to love about trail mix. Aug. 31 marks National Trail Mix Day, so we’re looking at how to find or make a batch that’s both nutritious and delicious.
The beloved snack typically includes a combination of nuts and dried fruits. Some mixes also might include seeds, chocolate, crackers, cereal or other kinds of grains.
When enjoying trail mix, it’s important to keep an eye on serving size, says Ashley Krautkramer, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist with ThedaCare.
“One thing to keep in mind with trail mix is that even though it’s a healthy food for you, it has a really small portion size — smaller than we’d choose on our own without measuring most of the time,” she says.
The typical serving size for trail mix is around one-fourth of a cup. To ensure you’re not overeating, Krautkramer recommends using a measuring cup or food scale. If you want a more substantial snack, you could add a low-sugar cereal such as Cheerios or some air-popped popcorn, she says.
Whether you’re making your own trail mix or buying one from the store, it’s best to choose unsalted nuts, as most people get more than enough sodium in their diets, Krautkramer says.
Be mindful of sugar as well. Natural sugars like those found in fresh fruits and dairy aren’t a big concern for most people, but everyone should watch their intake of added sugars, Krautkramer says.
Federal dietary guidelines recommend 10% or less of your calories come from added sugars. For a 2,000-calorie diet, that would be around 12 teaspoons — or 48 grams — per day. For those with an increased risk of heart disease, the American Heart Association recommends more stringent guidelines: 36 grams for men and 25 grams for women.
For a store brand that meets the mark, Krautkramer recommends Good & Gather’s Omega-3 Trail Mix, sold at Target stores. It has 0 grams of sodium, 5 grams of hunger-fighting protein and just 5 grams of added sugars.
Everyone loves a little sweetness, so it’s OK to add some chocolate to your mix, as long as it doesn’t become a chocolate overload, Krautkramer says.
Keep these guidelines in mind and grab a handful of this favorite snack. “We love trail mix!” Krautkramer says.
Looking for a heart-healthy mix?
Try this recipe for Almond Snack Mix, courtesy of the American Heart Association. It features unsalted almonds, dried fruit, whole-grain cereal and granola.