Looking for a healthy snack idea to have on hand when hunger strikes? Look no further than my homemade trail mix created with delicious nuts, seeds, and berries!
Trail mix can be an amazing healthy snack; but only if it’s made with the clean ingredients. Often, when you buy a pre-made trail mix from the store, it’s made with extra sugar and unhealthy, rancid oils. Unfortunately, when it’s made this way, this seemingly-healthy snack is truly not healthy. This packaged snack might be preventing you from shedding those extra pounds that you’ve been trying to lose. Let’s break down why you don’t want these unhealthy ingredients lurking in your snacks.
What Does too Much Sugar Do to Your Body?
There are countless reasons to eliminate added sugar from your diet:
Excess sugar leads to diabetes, high blood sugar, inflammation, and fatty liver disease
According to the CDC in 2017–2018, the age-adjusted prevalence of obesity in adults was 42.4% among both men and women
Leaves you feeling tired, moody, and sluggish
Can leave you feeling hungrier
Sugar contains empty calories that can make you feel like you’re riding a blood sugar roller coaster
Too much sugar can put you at risk for disease. According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the average American gets 270 calories of added sugars each day. That’s about 17 teaspoons of sugar!
You want to eliminate added sugar from your diet as much as possible. This does NOT include natural sugars, like those found in whole foods like fruits.
Whole foods contain numerous health-promoting benefits such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are good for you and add antioxidants to your diet. When we start ADDING extra sugar to our food and drinks, we not only crave more sugar, but our blood sugar can get out of control.
Sugar goes by many names. This makes it super easy for it to hide. Here are a few types of sugar you should know about.
Glucose – This is the kind of sugar that’s in your bloodstream after your digestive system breaks down your food. It’s the purest form of sugar – and it’s what fuels your body with energy. It also occurs naturally in some foods.
Fructose – This is a natural form of sugar that is commonly found in fruits. However, it has to be processed by your liver to become usable. For the most part, our liver is designed to handle the amount of naturally occurring fructose that is found in fresh, whole foods. But eating too much fructose can increase the likelihood that your body will store it and lead to a cascade of potential problems.
Sucrose – This is a combo of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. This is table sugar, which you’ll find it in a lot of packaged foods.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – This is a manufactured form of sugar similar in makeup to table sugar or sucrose … except it contains a little more fructose, at 55%.
Your body metabolizes fructose differently than glucose, and consuming too much fructose over time has been shown to contribute to health problems.
Now that you know all about sugar and how bad it can be for your health, let’s talk about unhealthy, rancid oils that are hiding in your food.
There is a lot of misinformation concerning healthy cooking oils and what you should be eating or avoiding. Most people don't realize that many cooking oils on the shelves seem healthy. Some oils cause excess inflammation in our bodies, over time can contribute to a higher risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes, food allergies/intolerances, bloating, inability to lose weight, eczema, leaky gut, or an autoimmune disorder.
Some of the unhealthy oils that you might find in your store-bought trail mix and other snacks are:
Rapeseed oil (another name for canola oil)
Why do cooking oils cause us inflammation? Low-quality refined oils such as canola, soybean, corn, and many others are highly processed and extracted by very high heat and pressure which destroys their healthy antioxidants and alters the chemical nature of the fat. This creates dangerous free radicals which can cause cellular damage and disease in the body.
They are then cleaned with chemicals such as hexane, which is a byproduct of gasoline production. Then, it is bleached to remove color and neutralized to remove the strong odor from the rancid oil.
Lastly, dangerous preservatives, BHA and BHT are often added to extend the shelf life of the oils. These two preservatives are actually found in many foods on our shelves today and have been known to cause tumors and cancer during animal testing. Additionally, over 90% of canola and soybean oil are genetically modified and if you haven’t already, make sure to check out my blog post How Monsanto aka Evil Corp is Making Us Sick to learn all about the harmful effects that GMOs and Roundup have on our health.
So now you can see why making an easy homemade trail mix that is void of sugar and unhealthy oils, is the way to go!
Benefits of eating raw nuts:
They are packed with nutrients like healthy fats, vitamins such as E, magnesium, and selenium
They are higher in fiber and can help you stay fuller longer which will help you decrease calorie consumption
Lower in carbohydrates
They are loaded with antioxidants that fight dangerous free radicals which can cause cellular damage and disease in the body which can lead to cancer
They can assist in weight loss. According to a study, people following a Mediterranean diet consuming nuts daily, were able to reduce their waist circumference
Even though nuts are higher in fat, studies have found that our bodies may not actually absorb all the calories from them, as a portion of fat stays bound within the nut’s fibrous wall during digestion
Nuts may assist in lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing levels of the “good” HDL cholesterol
So now you know why homemade trail mix is one of the best, quick, and easy snacks that you can make at home!
One of the great things about trail mix is that you can really make it any way you want. Love Brazil nuts? Hate peanuts? Just add or replace any ingredient that suits your taste buds! Just remember to always buy organic, raw, or roasted nuts without oil is best. Look for dried fruit that is unsweetened, meaning it only contains the sugars that are naturally found in the fruit, no added sugars.
Healthy Homemade Trail Mix Recipe:
3/4 cup raw walnuts
3/4 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw peanuts
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened cranberries
1/2 cup unsweetened raisins
1/2 cup chopped shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/4 tsp sea salt
In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well
Store in a mason jar and enjoy a ¼ cup serving for a healthy snack
If you enjoyed this recipe post and diving deeper into the nutrition behind packaged ingredients, I encourage you to check out my other blog topics: