Most of us have more than a few gatherings of family and friends coming up. And some of those gatherings are planned in our own homes where we’ll be preparing the food for our guests. During most of these events, we’re likely to put out some appetizers and snacks for our guests to enjoy with a holiday cocktail or beverage as we’re putting the finishing touches on the meal.

What will you be serving prior to your dinner? For many of us here at, party snack mixes are a big hit with guests. These snacks tend to be a combination of salty and sweet goodies that are easy to pick up and eat while sipping a drink. And snack mixes also offer the advantage of convenience for many party hosts.

Generally associates convenience with problems like bad ingredients, or too much fat, or too much salt – or all or any combination of those three issues. And party snack mix is no exception to that rule. Here’s a typical ingredient list for a mainstream brand of party snack mix:

Flour Enriched (Wheat Flour, Barley Malted Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin aB)) , Corn Meal Degermed Yellow, Wheat Whole, Vegetable(s) Oil (Soybean(s), Rice Bran and/or, Canola) , Flour Bleached Enriched (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin aB)) , Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Sugar, Contains 22% or less Salt, Monosodium Glutamate, Maltodextrin, Rye Flour, Yeast, Garlic Powder, Corn Syrup Solids, Corn Syrup High Fructose, Margarine (Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Whey, Beta Carotene, Vitamin A Palmitate, Flavor(s) Natural) , Malt, Baking Soda, Barley Malt Extract, Corn Syrup, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial, Malt Syrup, Spice(s), Soy Lecithin, Milk Non-Fat Cultured, Sodium Diacetate, Onion(s) Powder, Almond(s) Flour, BHT To Retain Freshness, Calcium Carbonate, Color(s) Added, Disodium Guanylate, Disodium Inosinate, Monoglyceride Distilled, Garlic, Molasses, Monocalcium Phosphate, Peanut(s) Flour, Sesame Seed(s), Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Soy Sauce (Wheat, Soybean(s), Salt, Maltodextrin, Caramel Color) , Tamarind Extract, Trisodium Phosphate, Wheat Starch, Whey, Corn Flour Yellow

One half cup (the serving size) of that same mix contains:
Calories: 140
Fat: 6g
Saturated Fat: 1g
Sodium 390mg

At first glance that really doesn’t seem so bad. But considering the serving size, we’re pretty sure that most of our guests are going to consume more calories, fat and sodium than this suggests. We can definitely do better preparing a party snack mix ourselves with less ingredients that are better choices while we lighten up on the calories, fat and sodium.

• 4 cups organic squares cereal (such as Cascadian Farm or Nature’s Path)
• 2 cups organic mini pretzels (such as Shiloh Farms)
• 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
• 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon organic Worcestershire sauce

To Prepare
• Preheat oven to 350°F.
• Mix cereals, pretzels, Parmesan, garlic salt, onion powder, pepper and cayenne in a large bowl. Toss with oil and Worcestershire. Spread on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
• Bake, stirring often, until toasted, 40 minutes.

Here are the nutrition facts for every half cup of this snack mix your guests will enjoy:

Calories: 61
Fat: 2g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Sodium: 189mg

In addition to lightening up the obvious problems, this party snack mix doesn’t contain any partially hydrogenated oil, MSG, caramel color, hidden MSG or artificial flavor.

Enjoy good food for the holidays. Offer your guests the flavor and goodness that comes from your kitchen – that includes the snacks and appetizers. They’ll appreciate your efforts – and enjoy indulging on treats that are better for them from the ingredients to the calories, fat and sodium!