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Homemade Trail Mix

By Kelsie White

Homemade Trail Mix

Nutrition Bites | Week 26

Welcome to Week 26, our last week of Nutrition Bites! It has been a fun journey and I hope that you have gained some knowledge and inspiration for your whole food, plant-based journey. For our last week, we will be talking about a recipe for Homemade Trail Mix, as well as discuss dietary fats and specifically omega 3 fatty acids. Let’s get started!

Homemade Trail Mix

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of unsalted whole almonds
  • 1 cup of unsalted pecans
  • 1 cup of walnuts
  • 1 cup of shelled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin (optional, makes it taste more like autumn!)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven the 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine all ingredients except for the cranberries.
  3. Spread across 2 baking sheets and bake for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool, then stir in the cranberries.
  5. Enjoy!
Types of Dietary Fats 

Before we jump into talking about omega-3s, let’s first review the main types of dietary fats. We have saturated fats, unsaturated fats, and trans fats. These are differentiated from one another at the cellular level. Within the category of unsaturated fats, we have two subgroups: mono and polyunsaturated fats. Overall, we want to limit saturated fat and trans-fat in the diet. Anywhere from 15-35% of our daily calories should come from fat, preferably from mono and polyunsaturated fats.

All About Omega-3s  

Omega 3 fatty acids are yet another subcategory of unsaturated fats. They are a type of polyunsaturated fat. There are other types of polyunsaturated fats, such as omega 6s, and omega-3s can be further divided into 3 more categories based on how long their carbon chain is at the cellular level. The three types of omega-3s are:

  • ALA (essential): Found in plant foods like chia, walnuts and flaxseeds.
  • EPA: Found in fish and seafood.
  • DHA: Found in fish and seafood.

ALA omega-3 fatty acids are called “essential” because our body cannot make them, and we must therefore obtain it from our diet. Once we have consumed ALA, our body is then able to convert it into EPA and DHA, which is why omega-3 supplementation isn’t always necessary. In some cases, it is, so this would be something to bring up with your primary care provider.

Health Benefits

There are many health benefits that omega-3 fats have been shown to be correlated with. Research has indicated that omega-3s can help to lower triglyceride levels, support heart health, support healthy brain functions, reduce depressive symptoms, as well as potentially reduce rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

Plant-Based Sources of Omega-3s 

In order for our bodies to convert enough ALA into EPA and DHA, it is recommended that we consume about 1.1-1.6 grams of ALA per day. To put this into perspective, 1 ounce of walnuts provides 2.6 grams of ALA, more than enough for one day’s worth. But there are also many other plant-based foods that provide omega-3s, for example, ½ a cup of blueberries provides about 400 mg of ALA. While not as much as the walnuts, it will still help to add up over the course of the day. Some other plant food sources include chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, edamame, winter squash, canola oil, wild rice, spinach, cauliflower, blueberries, seaweed, and algae.

Weekly Challenge

As you can see, there are lots of plant-based sources to choose from, meaning you don’t necessarily need to rely on fatty fish to get your omega-3s. This week, I want to challenge you to eat 1 serving of plant-based omega-3 sources each day this week.

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