Now that we’re back in the swing of school, work, therapy, play, and normal household errands, I’ve been trying to regain my handle on our family’s snacking. We fell easily back into our good eating habits, including fruits and veggies with our meals, but for some reason, we’ve been stuck in a snacking rut. I think part of it is that it’s too cold for our standby smoothie popsicles (like these or these), and some of it is that we’re all a little bored of what we’ve been eating lately. And I found that packaged snacks (even “healthier” ones, like pretzel sticks) were creeping back into more of our days than not.
For most of us, making each meal AND snack count is one of the best ways I know to stay on track. It’s the healthy breakfast principle–I find that if I start my day with a solid breakfast, I’m more likely to follow through with other healthy choices throughout the day. If I start the day with something sugary, the sugarfest might not end till after dinner.
So I put a hold on our packaged snack buying and challenged myself to step things up a bit.
The BEST thing we’ve come up with lately is to set up a “build-your-own trail mix bar.” I set a big variety of things on the counter a few times a week and we make a few batches of our own customized trail mix blends.
I love that we all end up with something we’re happy with. I’ve found that if I set a few ground rules, like “everyone chooses at least 4 different things” I can stand back and let everyone build their own.
Here are a few of our favorites trail mix ideas:
1. NUTS AND SEEDS
We go for raw or dry-roasted nuts. I love my pistachios or macadamias with a bit of salt, so sometimes we get the dry roasted, salted ones. (Be aware that nuts can be a choking hazard for little ones, so seeds might be a better choice.) I was surprised to learn that one of Sophie’s favorite trail mix ingredients is pumpkin seeds! She doesn’t go for nuts much, but she likes a little crunch from pepitas in her trail mix. A few ideas to get you started:
- Brazil Nuts
- Macadmia Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
2. DRIED FRUIT
Honestly, this is my favorite part of the variety. There are so many more dried fruits out there than raisins! Try experimenting a little! SunSweet makes a few varieties you might want to try, like mangoes, dates, and even diced prunes. You can get a great shot of potassium and fiber and add a little natural sweetness to your mix.
- Dried Cherries (we especially love tart cherries)
- Raisins or Dried Cranberries
- Dried Mangos
- Apricots, Peaches, or Nectarines
- Plums or Prunes (we like SunSweet’s Amaz!ns, which are little diced up plums). They’re surprisingly tangy are great with nuts and chocolate.
- Dried Pineapple
- Dried Blueberries
3. GRAB BAG
Something a little unexpected. Nothing fancy, just something to keep things interesting. A few of our favorites:
- Freeze dried berries are a fun addition (strawberries are our favorite)
- Banana chips (look for those with fewest ingredients)
- Toasted Coconut (we like the big shavings)
- Goji berries
- Candied Ginger or Citrus Peel
4. Something Sweet
Certainly not necessary, but I’ve found that a little bit of sweet goes a long way in getting my kids to try something new. It’s kind of the “ranch dip for your veggies” approach. The two my kids like the most are dairy free chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. If your little ones like chocolate covered raisins or candies, a few of those might be a fun add-in.
- Dry cereal (we go for GF Chex, you might try Cheerios or something low-sugar)
- Chocolate or Yogurt-Covered Raisins
- Dark Chocolate pieces
- Chocolate Chips
- Mini Marshmallows
We choose at least 4 different things for our mixes, and we each end up with something we love! It’s a great way to get your kids to try a variety of foods, and is a great way to keep from getting bored. I recommend making a big batch of a few varieties to store in your cupboard. You’ll have a week’s worth of healthy snacks ready and waiting, which means one fewer choice to worry about.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.