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Saturday, July 7, 2012

My Favorite Sodium-Free Healthy Snack Mix

I don't like the vast majority of the protein bars & shakes, almost all out there claiming to be healthy snacks. When you read the ingredient list, you start seeing all kinds of chemicals you don't want going into your body. I lift weights, do aerobics & athletic stretching. I need fuel for my body every three hours or so, but every bite I eat needs to be full of vitamins, minerals, protein & healthy fats to keep me going strong. Every calorie has to count for something, and it can't be high in carbohydrates that will cause a "sugar high", followed by a "sugar crash". I'm allergic to soy, so any product including that is out right off the bat. I get migraines from almost every artificial sweetener out there, and most of those have their own scary side effects when used too often. Usage of them en masse hasn't been shown to lower obesity or poor health in the least over the long haul. And do I want sugar alcohol, chemical preservatives I can't pronounce & a bunch of other ingredients used to mimic chocolate? No. A piece of real dark chocolate with 70% cocoa content is healthier than a lot of these bars. Yikes! What's a girl to do? Make up her own snack mix! Some people can genetically eat a lot of fat & sugar but get away with not gaining weight or having health problems from that. Other people have such active lifestyles that they burn on the calories off before they can put on any extra pounds. But a lot of us have neither the genes nor the lifestyle to consistently eat junk food & stay healthy. For me, I need small & lean meals every three hours or so to help my metabolism go faster, and I have to exercise at a high intensity six times a week for an hour each day just to maintain my weight. So I rely on clean eating to help me out in the health & fitness department.

For a snack, I portion out 1/3 c. servings of the following mixture, and that is what I recommend for most other women- for men or extremely active & lean women, I'd recommend 1/2 c. portions instead. It's full of nutrients & flavor. I love this blend because you can carry it in your purse, overnight bag or gym bag & you don't have to worry about anything in it melting. The dried fruit helps conquer sweet tooth cravings, plus adds some nutrients to the mix. For storage, just put the entire mixture in a big Lock & Lock or other airtight container, name & date the container with an adhesive label, and throw a 1/3 c. or 1/2 c. measuring spoon in there. Put a single serving into a baggie or small container to take with you- this is great to have on hand, especially if temptation arises. When cake is available because of someone's birthday at work, when there are samples of unhealthy food put out at a store, when you're at the movie theater (just hide the baggie before the lights are dimmed!), and in any other situations where you might go off your clean eating regimen, this comes to the rescue. Always carry a small snack like this with you as a "survival kit" for those situations, if you are trying not to gain weight. The ratio should always be roughly 2/3 nuts and/or seeds to 1/3 dried fruit, if you want to deviate from my recipe & choose different nuts or fruit. Personally, I prefer to go about up to about 75% nuts/seeds & 25% dried fruit, because I don't need a lot of carbohydrates. Of course I believe in people eating fresh fruit as much as possible, but I also know that's not always the most convenient choice for a number of reasons. Dried fruit doesn't replace eating fresh fruit, I must add, but just eating plain nuts or seeds (especially when they're sodium-free) gets so boring after awhile.

In any event, always choose sodium-free, organic & preservative-free versions of all snacks if possible. I do not like artificial sweeteners in the least- if something must be sweetened, there are many healthier alternatives than the chemicals created to mimic sugar, most of which don't even truly end up tasting like sugar at all. Coconut nectar & crystals, brown rice syrup, blue agave nectar- all great alternatives to bleached sugar or artificial sweeteners. Sucanat is a popular choice with nutritionists to replace the typical bleached sugar most of us grew up with, when used in small doses. It is my personal preference for sweetening foods. I buy most of my ingredients for stuff like this from You get free shipping on orders $49 & over. I've looked all through the Internet & compared prices, but Vitacost almost always comes out the cheapest, especially when you compare volumes of what you're buying. Always look for unsalted versions of nuts. The only time you want additional sodium in your snacks on purpose is if you are exercising at a very high intensity for more than ninety minutes. You can also get spices & herbs much cheaper than the grocery stores & with far better quality at I've been buying from them for nearly twenty years, and everything they sell is delicious. I rely on many of their great spice blends to perk up my food. They have Indian, Italian, Polish, Russian & many more spice-blend styles that make bland lean protein, whole grains & vegetables into something special.

Liz' Sodium-Free Healthy Snack Mix
One 16 oz. bag of Best of All Raw Cashews Unsalted
One 8 oz. bag of Best of All Organic Almonds
One 8 oz. bag of Best of All Pecan Halves Unsalted
One 16 oz. bag of Best of All Unsalted Sunflower Seeds Hulled
One 8 oz. bag of Bob's Red Mill Dried Cranberries
One 8 oz. bag of Bob's Red Mill Dried Blueberries
Optional: 1 to 2 tsp. of high-quality cinnamon, such as Penzey's Ceylon Cinnamon or Simply Organic Cinnamon Powder (cinnamon is used to lower fasting blood glucose levels [amongst other good attributes], especially great for diabetics or anyone with a family history of diabetes; please check the Internet for articles surrounding this great spice)

Or here it is in PDF form (if you want to print it out):

Mix all together in a mixing bowl or your storage container. I prefer to keep my mixture in the fridge, just to make sure the items within stay fresh. This makes a lot of the snack mix, but if you eat it daily, it goes pretty fast. I hope you enjoy it!

Here's to being a healthy organized minimalist,

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