Most trail mix that you buy at the store is loaded with added sugar from chocolate chips and dried fruit. Not to mention the added saturated fat (unhealthy fat) from those fried and dried banana chips. Making your own trail mix gives you the freedom to not only create your own custom mix, but to also choose healthier ingredients.
Start by choosing some unsalted and unsweetened nuts, such as plan almonds, pecans, or peanuts. This will provide protein and healthy (unsaturated) fats. Throw in some unsweetened dried fruit for sweetness and fiber. Lastly, you can jazz it up with unsweetened coconut flakes, sunflower seeds, or dark chocolate (at least 70% dark).
Smoothies are often regarded as a “health food”. While they certainly can be very healthy, most of the ones you buy pre-made at the grocery store (or local smoothie shop) are loaded with added sugar and lacking in protein.
To make your own smoothie, start with a lean protein base, such as skim milk, plain Greek yogurt, or unflavored protein powder. Next, add raw fruit. Frozen fruit will give you the best texture and it is often cheaper than fresh fruit. You can also throw in some spinach for added nutrition and bulk, without many added calories. For added flavor, you can also throw in some peanut or almond butter or vanilla or almond extract.
Bonus*Next time your bananas are starting to go bad, throw them in the freezer and use them in a smoothie.
Even though it can be a tad more time consuming, you will want to make your own guacamole instead of buying the pre-made kind. The homemade kind will taste fresher and it will not include all the preservative that the store bought kind uses.
A simple guacamole includes avocado, tomato, red onion, garlic, cilantro, and lime juice. This simple recipe is full of healthy fats, fiber, and protein. If you want to jazz it up, you can add corn, mango, or peppers.
Although it hasn’t always been the case, healthy pre-made popcorn is becoming more and more accessible at grocery store. Brands such as Skinny Pop and Trader Joe's are ditching the old formula which includes butter flavored popcorn that is laden with trans fats. Instead, these new brands of popcorn are using minimal ingredients to give maximum flavor.
What to look for: look for popcorn that only includes 3 ingredients or less. The only ingredients should be popcorn, oil (preferably olive oil), and salt.
While you can certainly whip up your own batch of hummus using a can of chick peas, some oil, and seasoning, it requires much less cleanup and work if you buy the pre-made kind. Most store bought hummus is a simple recipe that includes, chickpeas, vegetable oil, and seasoning.
What to look for: look for a hummus with as few ingredients as possible. Chickpeas should be the first ingredient, and there should be no added sugar.
Many peanut butters on the shelf at the supermarket are full of added sugar and other ingredients. Thankfully, you don’t have to grind up your own peanuts in order to get a healthy, no additives, creamy peanut butter. Brands like Smucker's, and many store brands such as Trader Joe's, offer nut butters that are simple, delicious, and without all the unnecessary additives.
What to look for: look for peanut butter (or any nut butter) that only contains peanuts and salt. This ensures you are getting all the protein and healthy fats, without the added sugar.