Wednesday, May 4, 2016

DIY Fruit-Nut-Cheese Snacks (aka Sargento Balanced Breaks)

Months ago, my mother in law was visiting and we ran into the grocery store to grab a few things for dinner. She pointed to, then bought, a package of Sargento Balanced Breaks - a little plastic container that was divided in two - one half was some cheese, one half was a nut/dried fruit mix. Nicely portioned, calorie controlled (7 Smartpoints, per Weight Watchers), and, as I discovered, pretty tasty. It took me VERY little time to become hooked. They're pricey though - but they went on sale and there was a rebate on SavingStar, so I bought multiple packages to keep in the fridge. And then I finished them....and didn't want to pay the money to buy more.

I mean, yes, they're portion controlled, and that's great - but of course you pay for that convenience AND you pay for a bunch of plastic that you don't need to be adding to a landfill. The obvious answer was to make my own snacks, and I'm sharing with you how I did it so you can too.

As you know, if you've read my blog in the past, I'm not fancy. I used a digital scale that I also use to weigh and mail packages (cleaned! covered! I didn't put any food directly on its surface! also it's not as accurate as a food scale would be - I'm OK with it because I'm on maintenance in WW, but if it matters to you, use a better scale).

I bought my nuts, raisins, and cheese at Your Dekalb Farmers Market, which has great bulk prices but which also more or less makes you buy whatever portions they've already packaged up and put on the shelves. (Yes, I believe you can ask for a different size, but I also believe that only works well if you want a lot MORE of something, not a lot LESS. I just buy the size that's about what I want to use and to spend.) Next time I think I'll buy a different cheddar (they sell one I think I like better at the Kroger cheese counter) or use pepper jack.

I started with raisins (regular old raisins, though going forward I'd also try this with golden raisins and cranberries), oil roasted organic cashews (which I bought by mistake - I'd have preferred dry roasted, but the Smartpoints aren't different, really, so it's not a huge deal, and I didn't actually need organic but that's what they had), and dry roasted almonds. I also bought a block of medium cheddar. And that's it. I spent right about $13 total for these ingredients - that would be approximately 12 individual "Balanced Breaks" containers, and I can easily make 20 or more with what I bought.

[Update: I tagged along with a friend and her amazing Costco membership (I really think I'll have to splurge on one soon) and got 2 pound blocks of cheddar and colby/jack for around $5 each, which brings the cost of these WAY down. I did not buy nuts at Costco because while the prices are great, that's just....a lot to buy at once for me. But maybe in the future.]

I then went to the Weight Watchers calculator and figured out my ideal ratio of fruit to nuts to cheese that would add up to 7 Smartpoints. Based on my calculations, that equaled:
  • 1/4 oz. cashews
  • 1/4 oz. raisins
  • 1/2 oz. almonds
  • 1/2 oz. cheddar
Now of course you can tweak these amounts to your personal taste while still remaining in the 7-9SP range. More raisins? More cheese? Just cut back/keep the ratios as you need them. But this balance worked for me.

I placed a plate on my digital scale and zeroed it out.

I then placed the cashews on - I think it's about 5-ish cashews per quarter ounce. That's plenty, trust me.

Then I zeroed the scale out again. (I learned this magical trick from Smitten Kitchen and it's so obvious and yet so fantastic!)

...and I placed the almonds.

Zero out, place the raisins.

Zero out, place the cheddar.

And then chop the cheddar into little snacky bits.

Seriously, couldn't be simpler. Then I just poured everything into a plastic baggie (I plan to use reusable containers in the future but right now this is easier) and voila. Snacks.

Snacks that fit into the Weight Watchers lifestyle, snacks that taste good, snacks that keep me satisfied because of the balance of fats/proteins/carbs. And snacks that SAVE ME MONEY and still are convenient. Hooray!

*I have nothing to do with Sargento nor Weight Watchers and all their trademarks belong to them.

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