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Trail mix can be a wildly healthy snack or actually a very unhealthy one that can leave you feeling unsatisfied and overweight. Why is this so? Most store-bought trail mixes are loaded with processed sugars and sodium (which make us crave more and overeat the trail mix’s high calorie ingredients) not to mention the rancid fats they contain from over processed nuts.

The key to an energy-boosting, performance enhancing trail mix, is whole food ingredients that are minimally processed, and in the RIGHT PORTION SIZE! When eating a trail mix I usually keep it to a ¼ cup serving at a time (even the healthy version can be a little calorie dense).

Creating trail mixes from the below ingredients is one of my favourite pre or post workout snacks when I am on the go. Throw it in your gym bag or purse and you’ve got a healthy snack no matter how busy you are.

For a tasty trail mix, try choosing a variety of ingredients and incorporate some salty, sweet and spicy options! Here are 12 of my favourites!

NUTS Nuts are a staple for a good trail mix. They provide a good base to add more ingredients to, while adding texture, flavour and nutrients (good fats, fibre and protein). The best picks for nuts are raw and unsalted (or even soaked first for optimal digestibility), and my favourites are:

1. Pecans 2. Cashews 3. Almonds 4. Brazil Nuts 5. Walnuts

ADD SOMETHING SALTY AND SWEET FOR A BALANCE OF FLAVOUR No trail mix is complete without some sweet and salty components (healthy options of course). This will keep it interesting and satisfying. Some of my favourite ideas are:

6. Organic, air popped popcorn (you can add nutritional yeast for a salty, cheesy flavour or chilli powder for a spicy, sweet component). I prefer organic popcorn due to the large amount of GMO corn that is out there!

7. Raw sunflower seeds: these are one of my favourite ingredients because sunflowers absorb a vast amount of sunlight and their seeds store this powerful energy! Loaded with protein, fibre and vitamin E (which is important for converting food to sustained energy), these are nutrient powerhouses that are also a great alternative to nuts if you have an allergy. You can lightly roast your own if you want to add a bit of sea salt, or spices to enhance their flavour profile in your trail mix (however I like them in the natural raw state).

8. Unsweetened Coconut Flakes: these will add a subtly sweet taste to the mix, and they contain healthy fats and fibre for making you feel full and giving you lots of energy. Great for a pre-workout trail mix!

9. Dark Chocolate or Cocoa Nibs: for a little sweet and bitter taste I love adding these ingredients to the mix. Dark chocolate is an excellent source of antioxidants and can add just the right amount of sweetness without causing sugar cravings.

10. Dried Fruit: In moderation, dried fruit is good option for trail mix (especially a pre or post workout snack mix). It is important, however, to avoid dried fruit that has excess sugar and preservatives added. Goji berries, cranberries, apricots and raisins are some tasty options full of antioxidants and fibre. Spice it Up! I like to stimulate my pallet with a little surprise once in awhile, so I don’t get bored, which is where getting creative with spice comes in! You can try adding any of the following ingredients to jazz it up a bit:

11. Cayenne Pepper: this secret ingredient not only adds flavour, but it is also prized for its health benefits too! This super spice will blend well with most of the suggested trail mix ingredients! Just a pinch will do.

12. Ginger: This can be your sweet and spicy ingredient in one shot. You can opt for adding in some dried ginger to your mix (avoid the candied ginger). A little goes a long way here, so breaking up the bits into small pieces is a good idea. Ginger is known for its benefits on digestion and minimizing nausea and can help with improving energy levels, making this a powerful addition to the mix.

Nat's Tip: I also like to make the trail mix into a granola adding gluten free oats and combining the ingredients using raw honey and coconut oil and baking in the oven!

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