Smart snacking is key to a dancer’s energy throughout the day. As a result, dancers often rely on convenient, packable, and non-perishable options. But sometimes, misguided food fears can make the concept of snacking tough to implement.
Despite its sweet-and-salty flavor profile, trail mix sometimes gets a bad rep. Since diet culture spews fear over back-of-the-label packaging, dancers are prone to judging snack foods like trail mix as a “calorically-dense” option high in fat and sugar. However, such a snack can be better constructed to build a nutrient profile that resembles a muscle-building and tissue-healing superstar.
To better understand why this snack is a great snack option for dancers, let’s break it down. Trail mix is usually composed of some necessary staples: a crunchy carb, a satisfying nut (or seed), and a sweet addition like dried fruit. The key to its success? Balance. The fat from nuts is unsaturated, which is known to promote heart health and lessen inflammation. Nuts (and/or seeds) are also a great source of protein and fiber– both of which stabilize blood sugar. The additional sugar from dried fruit replenishes glycogen stores, which keeps your energy up and your brain functioning alert.
Build your own trail mix as a budget-friendly option. This also allows you to optimize its nutrient profile. The bottom line? A quality trail mix gives you the energy you need for your dancing!
5 Ingredients to The Perfect Trail Mix:
- Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pistachios, and macadamia nuts. Nuts are packed with protein, fat, and an array of vitamins, which aide in muscle recovery! Try roasted nuts for an additional toasty flavor.
- Seeds: These small but mighty additions are high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and sesame seeds are great choices. Did you know that seeds are also a great source of magnesium? Magnesium is known to promote calmness during your most stressful audition season.
- Grains: Add crunch with foods like granola, pretzels, popcorn, or whole-grain cereal. Grains are a great way to boost the fiber content of your snack, which promotes satiety to hold you until your meal.
- The Fun Stuff: A personal favorite, dried fruit adds the perfect sweetness to your mix! Toss a handful of raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, banana chips, or apple chips into your mix. If you prefer a more indulgent option, swap dried fruit with dark chocolate chips or yogurt chips. Dried fruit is high in potassium, an electrolyte that plays a role in your muscles’ contractions.
- Spice It Up! This is optional and a great way to add variety and flavor to your mix. Sprinkle cinnamon, cayenne pepper, or even pumpkin spice to your trail mix! Fun fact: did you know the capsaicin in cayenne pepper can alleviate muscle cramps?
Do you have any additional ingredients to add to your trail mix? Share them in the comments below!
Article written with the help from student Caitlin Alfano. Expert reviewed by Rachel Fine.