How to snack like a health coach

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve definitely seen me eating Trailhead Naturals (side note: if you’re not following me, feel free to start following me at @ericaballardhealth). I freakin’ love this brand. Everything is all natural and non-GMO and gluten-, dairy- and added-sugar free. And while that’s all good and great, my favorite thing about Trailhead Naturals is it’s all those things and delicious (not good – DELICIOUS).

And before you start thinking this is a sponsored post, it’s not. This post is me fan girling because I know that not all healthy snacks and foods taste good. Real talk: Some healthy foods are really terrible. But not Trailhead Naturals. This brand has figured out the formula. That’s why I’m asking its chef and owner Akshaya Bhat for tips on how to make food that fuels our bodies and tickles our taste buds (yep, I said tickles).

Alright, Akshaya. You know I’m obsessed with your food. Everything you make is soooo good. But before we dive into healthy food tips, can you share the story of how you started Trailhead Naturals?

First up, thank you for loving all my creations. Trailhead Naturals came into being when I was pregnant with my daughter. I had all these cravings, and we had been off sugar, gluten, soy and dairy for a few years then. It was so hard to satiate my cravings and also eat healthy. Fruits and veggies were our go to snack options, which they still are, but sometimes there is that need for chocolate, ice creams, and such. Holding ourselves back only led to a huge unhealthy binge out or very cranky individuals. That is when I started trying to recreate our favourite snacks, giving them healthy twist. When I started sharing my creations with friends, I realised there were others who are looking for alternate options too. That is how Trailhead Naturals came into existence.

How do you do it? Like really, how do you make all of your food taste so delicious without all that extra stuff? You know the chemicals, added sugar, and preservatives?

Haha, with lots of LOVE. That is such a cliche, but really that is what it is. My products are an extension of my pantry and fridge and what we eat at home. If something does not get sold at the market that week, we end up eating all of it. I make fresh batches every week for the market. So, I make sure I make the best for me, mine and now all of us (i.e. all you gorgeous loving beings).

Also, Gautham, my husband, travels a lot. Most of my products have come into existence from the need for something healthy to snack on during travels (like raw chocolates, crackers, muffins, falafels), easy to prep with minimum kitchen equipments (like my broth mix, elixir mixes, muesli blend). I try to sneak in herbs and superfoods, just to amp up the nutritional profile .

I know why eating all-natural foods is important to me, but why is it so important for you to make and eat all-natural food?

I try my best to be close to nature as possible. I feel I have more energy, clarity and I am at peace when I eat healthy. It just makes my day that much more beautiful, productive, and filled with love.

Your daughter and your husband are healthy eaters, but I know it took time to get them there. So, what advice to you have to readers who are trying to get their spouses and kids to eat healthier?

I feel it is easy with kids when we start them young. They tend to pick up from our habits. With Yuktha (my daughter), I have observed that she likes and dislikes the same foods as we do. So enjoying healthy meals with them is the best way to put them on the right track. I also try to avoid food rewards, rewarding a good behaviour or a healthy meal with sugar is unnecessary. I know that is not always the ideal way, but trying to reward other ways helps. One other thing I have found that helps is reasoning with them, answering their questions, and letting them have a chance to put forth their views. They might not understand all of it but I am sure they will pick up something.

As far as with spouses, we all have our guilty pleasures. Just trusting the other person is doing the best he/she helps a lot. We are still working on it. Also , working as a team, setting small achievable goals as a couple is a fun approach.

What is one thing readers can do to up level their foods?

Picking just one thing is hard, but if I have to meal prepping is a great tool to ensure eating more homemade foods. Make a big batch of sauces and dips to last a week, cook grains and lentils ahead of time . That way weekday lunches are easy to put together.

I love everything you make, but those chia crackers are probably my favorite thing you make (followed very closely by your pumpkin muffins). They are actually my go-to snack when I’m at home. What is your go-to snack and why?

Aww, thanks love. I go back and forth on most things. One constant so far has been Raw Chocolates, after all, Cacao is a food group!!! :)

If you want to know more about Akshaya Bhat and Trailhead Natural, you can find her on Facebook or Instagram. If you want more features like this, sign up for the Erica Ballard Health Newsletter