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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Mix some Trail Mix for A Hike

What fun to go hiking in the fall.   We just got back from hiking in the Shenandoah National Park.  Cooler weather, wonderful views, trees starting to turn colors and a great and fun way to exercise.   If you are hiking or going on a picnic this fall, bring some homemade trail mix.  If you make it yourself, or “make” it from bins in your local grocery store you can pick the options and the quality of the mix.  Sports Nutritionists and other recommend trail mix as a healthy way to refuel.  The fruit in trail mix offers many health benefits such as being good for your heart.  A 2016 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found those who ate one-half cup of fruit a day lowered their risk of heart disease.  And for those who forgo nuts because nuts are high in fat, a lot of research shows a handful of nuts a day can help you maintain, not gain weight.  Other studies show that eating nuts can help you lose weight.  And the fat in nuts is a heart healthy fat.  So what are some healthy trail mix ideas?

Trail Mix -  a healthy blend of carbs (good carbs), protein and fat.  Marni Symbal R.D. says, “Trail mix has a balanced combination of fat, protein, and carbs for lasting energy.”  She recommends blending your trail mix using the following guidelines (1.)
  • 50 % unsalted nuts – choose a variety of nuts including peanuts, almonds, walnut and cashews.  Or choose hazelnuts or shelled pistachios.
  • 30% dried fruit – many Olympians rely on dried fruit to fuel up and refuel so why shouldn’t you?  Dried fruit has fructose, a natural sugar found in fruits.  Choose raisins, apricots, cranberries (look for low-sugar varieties), pears, cherries, dried banana chips
  • 15% seeds – seeds are often overlooked but a very healthy addition to trail mix, loaded with healthy antioxidants and many have anti-inflammatory compounds.  Choose pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds.
  • 5%  You choose – add some dark chocolate chips, whole grain cereal like Wheat Chex or Cheerios.    

Roasted Trail Mix:  Or, if your are more ambitious, make your own trail mix with a recipe that calls for some baking.  Food and Wine (2) has a healthy recipe that you can make ahead and keep for up to 4 days. 

FRUIT AND NUT TRAIL MIX INGREDIENTS
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/4  cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup raw walnut halves
  • Sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (low sugar)
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup banana chips
 Mix the nuts with a pinch of salt.  Toast in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes and turn halfway through cooking time.  Mix nuts and dried fruits.  Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days.  

Plan a hike, plan a picnic and pack some trail mix.  
Sources:  1.  Mix it Up, BHG, August 2016.  2.  Fruit and nut trail mix  3.  Fruit Consumption and Heart Disease  Image source:  Dried Fruits and Nuts

Dried Fruit and Nuts



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