Happy Trail Mix Day + Protein Rich Snack Ideas

The start of September signals crazy-season with my family. Mondays through Fridays have us all in the busy back-to-school routine and weekends are devoted to football games, family and friend birthday parties, and scrambling to finish home and extra-cirricular projects before the (gasp) holiday season sets in.  It’s easy to grab something less than healthy from the pantry or vending machine when this onslaught of obligations and stress sets in. Do your diet a favor and but together one of these protein-rich snacks instead – the little boost of protein will help keep you feeling full until your next mea!

7 Easy Protein Snacks

  • Cracker + Nut Butter + Hemp Seeds
  • Hummus + Carrots (or other veggies)
  • Cashews + Dried Cranberries + Chocolate Chips
  • Popcorn + Almonds + Honey Drizzle
  • Beef, Chicken or Turkey Jerky
  • Baked Broad Beans or Roasted Chick Peas (store-bought)
  • Greek Yogurt + Granola

Almond Toffee Crunch Protein Bars

Protein bars can be another sensible snack option on-the-go – although it’s important to look for those that aren’t actually candy bars in disguise. I’ve been loving the Perfectly Simple Protein Bars by ZonePerfect  — the brand is very choosey about the simple ingredients they use to make such a nutritious and delicious snack.   Right now, if you visit ZonePerfect Perfectly Simple, you can get a $1 off  coupon for a box of these nutrition bars. #FeelGooder

Nut and Cereal party mix made in crock potFinally, just want to remind you that today is National Trail Mix Day! My recipe for “So Nutty” Slow Cooker Snack Mix is actually cooked in a crock pot – it tastes fantastic and is so easy to make! I’m sending a big bag full to my son who just left for college . . . . it’s my way of sending him a hug from home!

What is your favorite ingredient to put in a trail / snack mix? Please share in the comments below – XOXO, Jennifer

{Slow Cooker} Salted Caramel Chocolate Crunch Holiday Gift Recipe

Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Chocolate Crunch - TheFitFork.com

I would be thrilled if you would head over to Love Grown Food’s Facebook and/or Pinterest page and vote for my holiday recipe creation (by “liking” or pinning) – {Slow Cooker} Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Crunch! This scrumptious salty-sweet snack couldn’t be easier to make in the slow cooker . . . . yes, Crock Pot power! Just dump in everything but the chocolate and let it mingle and caramelize together while you tend to other holiday tasks like wrapping gifts, addressing cards and hauling out the holly. Chocolate chips are melted in at the end and then it just cools for a bit on parchment paper. By using Power O’s, a crunchy cereal made from a blend of beans that adds protein, I’m able to bring a little balance to this sweet snack mix.

If you don’t gobble up the entire recipe at once, this Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Crunch makes a nice addition to any holiday party snack lineup or can be packaged up in jars with pretty ribbon for gift-giving.  Remember to go vote through the Facebook or Pinterest links, it’s really easy.  Thank you.

Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Chocolate Crunch - TheFitFork.com

Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Crunch Recipe

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 4 cups “O’s” cereal like Cheerios or Love Grown Power O’s
  • 2 cups mini pretzels
  • 2 cups oyster crackers
  • 2 cups toasted almonds
  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt

1. Melt butter in a saucepan.
2. Stir in sugar and vanilla until well blended.
3. In a large slow cooker, combine cereal, pretzels, almonds and crackers. Pour in melted butter mixture and stir to coat.
4. Cook on high for 2-3 hours with the LID OFF, stirring occasionally. Mixture will be done when sugar caramelizes to create a glaze over ingredients. Please keep an eye on ingredients, as slow  cooker temperatures can vary from model to model or with age of the appliance.
5. Turn heat to low and stir in chocolate chips. Put lid on slow cooker and let chocolate soften for about 5 minutes.
6. Remove lid and stir mixture to distribute melted chocolate.
7. Spread mixture on parchment paper and immediately sprinkle with coarse sea salt. After mixture has cooled and hardened, store in an airtight container.

Makes about 10 to 12 cups.

“So Nutty” Slow Cooker Snack Mix Recipe

Nut and Cereal party mix made in crock potRoad tripping it today, needed something yummy for the eldest teenage son and his grandfather to nibble on as we drive off to a college visit. Snack mix, Chex mix, party mix . . . .or, whatever you like to call it is always a big hit with the guys at my house. If seen entire bags of these crunchy munchies devoured for after school snacks, late night study breaks and during football games.

Making this perennial party mix at home is always better, in my opinion, because the ingredients can be controlled. For example, I believe butter is better for you than the vegetable oils in the name brand mix. And, I like to add a lot of nuts – the more the better, it adds that protein you need for longer-lasting energy. Butter, nuts, salt and such – remember, this isn’t a “diet” food, but you can enjoy it in moderation.

win me slow cookerImagine my surprise to find out that you can make snack mix in the slow cooker?! Initially I didn’t believe it would, but I whipped up my own recipe for “So Nutty” Slow Cooker Snack Mix and it worked, it totally worked!  This is a good time to remind you that I’m giving away a slow cooker —  check out the giveaway post and the recipe for Honey Balsamic Slow Cooker Chicken!

 

Okay, so a few comments on the snack mix recipe – the biggest “must tell” is that you can really swap out any ingredient for your favorite cereal, nut or other mix-in. It’s just important to get the ratios right for the butter mixture to be enough  – you’ll need about 8 cups of total volume made up of dry crunchy things and nuts. I used loads of nuts AND  Love Grown Food’s Power Os – that cereal is made partially out of a bean blend (navy, lentil and garbanzo), so you get even more protein! And, I also tossed in some Harvest Snaps Snapea Crisps!

Snack Party Mix made in Crock Pot

“So Nutty” Slow Cooker Snack Mix Recipe

  • 3 cups cereal (I used Love Grown Food’s Power Os)
  • 2 cups small crackers like oyster, Goldfish, Mini Ritz, or pretzels
  • 3 cups mixed nuts (the more types, the better!)
  • ½ cup butter (or oil of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning (or your favorite)
  1. Mix together cereal, crackers and mixed nuts in 4-qt or larger slow cooker.
  2. Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in Worcestershire sauce and seasoning.
  3. Pour butter mixture over cereal; stir well to evenly coat.
  4. Cook uncovered on high setting for about 60 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn slow cooker to low setting and cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 30 – 45 minutes or until cereal is crisping. Remember to stir!
  5. Remove party mix from slow cooker and cool on baking sheet. Store in zip-top bag.
  6. Makes 16 one-half cup servings.

cooking light snack mixIf you are looking for more snack mix recipes, Cooking Light has a selection of both sweet and savory snack mixes that are big in taste, low in calories and high in fiber.

 

What is your favorite ingredient to put into a snack mix?