Every Christmas, there are two foods we can always count on being at our Christmas celebration. The first is lobster, our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. We used to do a big German feast with sausages, wurst, real pumpernickel bread, pickles and sauerkraut - the whole shebang. We did that in honor of my German grandma, but at some point, we realized that most of us didn’t actually enjoy German food (I was one of the exceptions). The family voted, and overnight we had a new Christmas tradition.
The only other food that makes a regular appearance at Christmas is my aunts homemade “nuts & bolts",” a chex snack mix with peanuts (nuts) and bolts (pretzel sticks) along with bagel chips and cheez-its. When I'm around this mix, I tend to throw away all my mindful eating skills and mindlessly much on it while watching Christmas movies, grabbing a handful after walking the dogs, and nosh on it with a glass of champagne while opening presents. It’s so good!
Everyone in the family picks out the best parts of the mix - the cereal and cheese crackers, obviously - and leave everything else behind. By the end of the holiday, it truly is "nuts and bolts" because the peanuts and pretzels are the only things leftover!
But truly, the best thing about it is the spicy and smoky blend of spices she uses - chili powder, smoked paprika, and a little bit of curry. Plus plenty of salt!
So, I decided to make a little healthier version made with whole grains and the same addictive blend of spices - and leave out the “bolts” because I’m not much of a pretzel person. When I make the spice mix myself, I get to choose what gets left out! I also added flax seeds for a little extra fiber and a boost of omega-3s.
Feel free to swap out different cereals or crackers to make this mix however you like! I think the fun thing about chex mix is that everyone has their own favorites. Just keep the proportions the same. You could use almonds or cashews instead of peanuts, or different types of cereal.
Of course, my favorite time to break out this recipe is Christmas, but feel free to whip this up any time of the year for a satisfying snack.
Whole Grain Chex Mix
Makes 10 cups
1 5-ounce box whole grain cheese crackers (I used Simple Mills cheese crackers)
3 cups whole grain cherios
3 cups whole grain chex mix
1 1/2 cup peanuts
1/4 cup flax seed
4 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together crackers, cereal, peanuts and flax. In a small bowl, mix together spices.
Drizzle oil over the cereal mix, tossing to combine. Sprinkle the spice mix over the top, tossing well to combine again. Spread evenly over a large baking sheet. Bake for an 1 hour and 15 minutes, tossing every 15 minutes, until crispy and golden.
Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Will keep at least a week in an airtight container at room temperature.
More healthy whole grain snacks: