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Trail Mix: Off The Trail

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Today was trail mix day for me.    I am one week from departing for Africa to climb Kilimanjaro and I am playing around with trail mixes to bring on our trek.  Any food mix that you concoct at your home – on the trail or off the trail – really needs to match the energy output of your activity.  In my situation with the Kilimanjaro climb, my food intake with have a direct influence on how well I perform and it will even have an influence on how well I acclimatize at high altitudes.  For the majority of people living day-to-day off the trail, a mixture of dried food that can be stored in an office desk, a school backpack or a hot car can be a great, low maintenance snack on the go.  But mixed too high in energy (aka, calories) for your energy output will result in weight gain over time.

I went by my local specialty grocery store and there it was – bins and bins of trail mix sandwiched next to bins and bins of granola of varying flavors.  On the same aisle, there were endless possibilities of items to combine with your granola including an entire wall of chocolate covered nuts, raisins, pretzels and – yes - candy.

Let’s face it.  Trail mix has its name for a reason – it is really meant for the trail and other high energy-requiring activities.  Take two of the common components in many trail mixes out there: dried fruit and nuts.  Both are healthy, right?  Yes.  But both are naturally dense in calories via sugar (fruit) and fat (nuts).  Many pre-made and homemade trail mixes have way too many high calorie components, including candy.

For off the trail, this is what I recommend: 2/3 low calorie mixes such as whole grain cereal, baked crackers and/or pretzels and 1/3 higher calorie additions such as dried fruit and nuts.

A high fiber base followed by a salty + nutty + sweet flavor combination usually makes for a tasty and still healthy snack.  Here is a quick recipe I give my families that see me in my private practice.  Multiply the amounts as desired for a larger batch to use throughout the week:

1 cup regular low-sugar whole grain cereal O’s
1 cup whole grain cheddar crackers or pretzels
1/3 cup your favorite nuts or seeds
1/3 cup dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries

Nutrition Information:  172 calories per ½ cup serving

Feel free to follow my husband and I as we document our climb in Africa by going here!

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