Put together any of your favorite snacks, breakfast grains, or pretty much anything you love munching on and you’ve got a snack mix! It can be a mix of anything, and everything! In the market are several snack mixes that may contain tasty combinations of nuts, raisins, dried fruits, cereals, peanuts and pretzels, breadsticks, granola, chocolate, some of which are coated by some syrup or flavoring.
There are many variations of snack mixes, categorized by their contents, such as trail mix, Chex mix, bridge mix, tropical fruit snack mix, Munchies, Gardetto’s, and more. Some of these snack mixes are marketed as a healthier snack alternative, as its ingredients are nutritious, lightweight, easy to make and store, great to serve in parties and cheaper to make as well!
Snack Mix Trivia
- The original Chex Mix, mixed from different types of cereal, pretzels, and bagel chips, was invented by an animal food company who had then branched out into making breakfast cereals in the 1930s. Fast forward to the 1950s, they thought of a way to get people to eat more of their cereals. They published a recipe of a “party mix” on the box of their cereals, using their different cereal products.
- Charles Schulz’ Peanuts comic strip appeared in commercials for the Chex Party Mix. This partnership also produced toys and tins of the Chex Mix with the Peanuts characters.
- Trail mix is one of the most popular snack mixes. In fact, it has its own day of commemoration! August 31 is declared as the National Trail Mix Day.
Snack Mix Buying Guide
Snack mixes are said to be a growing segment in the food industry. It was reported that the snack nuts segment grew 1.76% to $4.8 billion by December 2018, and the nutritional snacks and trail mixes segment saw a 4.18% growth to $565.5 million. That’s a lot of numbers to take in, but it just means that there are many options and brands for the buyers to choose from in local stores or even in big groceries and supermarkets.
Snack Mix Production & Farming in Texas
The goal to eat and live healthy and produce wholesome foods are also the underlying principles of some local Texan brands and artisan cottage producers. Aside from the numerous brands you can buy off the shelf, local producers are doing their own mixes, using amazingly tasty combinations of granolas, nuts, dried fruits, and more. Many producers and brands boast of their mixes as organic and all-natural. They want to prove that eating healthy does not mean sacrificing the taste. It can be yummy and healthy together!
Preservatives, Additives and Chemicals
While the snack mixes themselves usually contain an all-natural combination of items, the danger happens when we buy mass-produced, pre-packaged mixes. Fried crisps, extra salty nuts, sugar-loaded fruits, and chocolates may be added to add more flavor or some additives to help preserve its shelf life, and these add-ons pack unwanted substances to your body. While these may not pose risks in small doses, it is still always better to eat natural and veer away from processed foods. Here are some preservatives and additives that may be listed on some brands of snack mixes:
- Maltodextrin – a polysaccharide that is commonly added to packaged foods to improve its flavor, thickness, and shelf life. This white powdery substance can be derived from corn, however, it is highly processed, using acids or enzymes. Maltodextrin is considered by the US FDA to be a safe food additive and is counted in the total carbohydrate count in the food’s nutritional value. There are warnings that the maltodextrin may have a high glycemic index and might pose an issue for those with diabetes. But this substance is usually present in small amounts in food and therefore won’t have that much significant effect if taken moderately.
- Citric acid – This is commonly found in citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, and the likes. However, there is also a manufactured form that is used as a food additive and can also be found in cleaning agents and nutritional supplements. This manufactured citric acid is used to preserve the ingredients, to boost acidity in its contents, and to enhance the flavor. This is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the FDA.
- Monosodium Glutamate – also known as MSG, this food additive can be derived from a non-essential amino acid, the glutamic acid. This is usually used to enhance the flavor. But there is still a controversy and a debate if MSG poses health risks. Some reported having experienced adverse effects such as headache, numbness, weakness, flushing and muscle tightness. It was also linked to weight gain. However, there are still no official studies and conclusions if MSG is safe or dangerous for consumption.
- Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate are food additives and flavor enhancers that are both derived from nucleotides. They can be labeled as ‘natural flavors’ on food packages or ingredients lists. Small amounts of these additives are needed to bring out the umami or the savory flavor, and these can be used to replace some doses of the MSG. Just like MSG, these are generally considered as safe. However, those who have shown to be sensitive to MSG or are monitoring their salt intake may have to be conscious about taking in food with these additives.
- Artificial Food Color – These make the food colors pop and look so much brighter and appetizing. However, there are some food colors and food dyes that have been banned from some countries as research findings have highlighted them to cause allergic reactions, tumors, and cancers. These banned food dyes are Blue 2, Green 3, Yellow 3, Yellow 6, and Red 3.
Snack mixes are often packed in sealed plastic pouches and stand up bags, making them very convenient and lightweight to bring around. These also serve as energy boosters to people like trail mixes, so they have to be perfectly handy and ready on-the-go. Resealable packs are also ideal for these mixes so they can be eaten and stored with no fuss in several instances.
Enjoying Snack Mixes
Looking for no-fuss snack options? The snack mix can save the day! These can be brought out of the bag, put into a bowl, and it becomes an easy party finger food or a movie/TV night snack. Just like trail mixes, these are also great packed food options while hiking, camping, or doing other outdoor activities. These are filling, nutrient-filled, and very convenient.
Some also make their snack mixes ahead of time. They combine their favorite nuts, grains, biscuits, dried fruits, and more and store it in little jars or containers. Then they label it for specific meals for a particular day. It makes it efficient and less time-consuming for those always on the go for work or in preparing snacks for the kids, and they can even make different snack mixes per meal and per day!
Snack mixes must be stored properly in an airtight container.
In the case of the Chex Mix homemade recipe, it should keep for about 4 to 6 weeks. It can also be put on the freezer so it can last longer, for about 4 to 6 months. For homemade trail mixes, it can hold for about a month when kept in a cool dry place.
Cooking Snack Mixes
A recipe with a bit of history! This is the original Chex Party Mix recipe that was published on the cartons of Chex cereals back in the 1950s. Enjoy snacking!
- 3 cups Corn cereal
- 3 cups Rice cereal
- 3 cups Wheat cereal
- 1 cup mixed nuts
- 1 cup bite-size pretzels
- 1 cup garlic-flavor bite-size bagel chips or regular-size bagel chips, broken into 1-inch pieces
- 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- In large microwavable bowl, mix cereals, nuts, pretzels and bagel chips; set aside. In a small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High about 40 seconds or until melted. Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.
- Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes, thoroughly stirring every 2 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool. Store in an airtight container.