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Take that famous snack mix with a "checkered past", jazz it up with healthy additions, and sneak it into the cupboard in place of those expensive junk food crunchies.  Originally known as "Chex Party Mix", with a few changes it can be a healthier treat, and save money too. 

By the way, don't think for a minute that the nuts and seeds are too expensive.  They are high in nutrition and so filling that less is usually consumed.  On the other hand, check the ounces on a large package of potato chips.  Divide the ounces in half, because half the weight, more or less, is fat and salt.  Now divide the price by that half-number of ounces.  Multiply by 16.  That's the price per pound you are paying for potatoes, and unlike boiled or baked potatoes which have some nutrition at least, potato chips have almost zero nutritive value, too much salt, and usually hydrogenated or trans-fats, reputedly a dangerous addition to anyone's diet.

Plus the bulk of this snack is popcorn, a very cheap substitute for crunch junk.  Do NOT use microwave popcorn as it is high in bad fats and expensive as well.   (A more costly but far healthier substitute if you MUST use microwave popcorn is the new Smart Balance microwave popcorn.  Smart Balance products are free of trans-fats and hydrogenated ones.)

Sneaky Snack Mix 

scant 1/4 cup un-popped popcorn kernels
2 cups whole wheat squares
2 cups rice squares
2 cups corn squares
2 cups Cheerios
1 cup peanuts or mixed nuts (or 1 1lb. can mixed nuts)
1/2 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1 T. oil
3 T. non-hydrogenated shortening (Smart Balance, canola or other healthy oil will do)
3 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 to 1-1/2 tsp. salt or salt substitute
1/8 tsp. turmeric (optional - or substitute paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. garlic salt

If your junk food snacker is addicted to barbeque flavor or hot and spicy crispies, add 1 T. of chili powder and/or some cayenne pepper.  Or experiment with your favorite combinations.

Preheat oven to 250░ F.

Pop the popcorn, either in an air popper or in 1 T. of canola or other light cooking oil.

Place shortening in a large bacing pan or lasagna pan.  If it is a solid shortening, place in oven for a few minutes to melt.  Add Worcestershire Sauce and stir.  

Mix seasonings, and sprinkle onto the liquid evenly.  Spread over the bottom of the pan.  

Mix all cereals, popcorn, seeds and nuts in a large bowl.  Pour evenly into the baking pan and immediately stir and mix well to distribute the shortening, Worcestershire Sauce and seasonings.  Place in oven and bake for 1 to 2 hours, stirring every fifteen minutes or so.  Turn off oven and crack door open so the mixture can cool.  If the climate is very humid and you are not in air conditioning, don't let it sit too long or it will take on moisture and lose its crunch!

If your family puts snacks in bowls to eat, store in a sealed container  or in zipper food storage bags.  If this amount won't be eaten within a week, put part of it in the freezer in an airtight container or freezer bags; this will prevent rancidity and preserve the nutrition in the seeds and nuts

On the other hand, if the family grabs packets of chips or other snacks, pack servings in sandwich bags and seal them in an airtight container.  

Last, to break the cycle of junk food, just don't bring any other crispy snacks home.  If its not there, it can't call their name.   

If you have a HUGE bowl (or a cauldron, maybe) and two large baking pans, you can double this recipe, store the excess in the freezer and be set for a while, snack-wise.  And do NOT give this treat to small children.

The Sneaky Kitchen
Web Site by Bess W. Metcalf   Copyrightę April 1999 - 201

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