September 10, 2013

Make your own trail mix.

Trail mix is super popular these days and goes way beyond the basic peanuts, raisins and M&Ms. From sweet to savory, there are hundreds of combinations that can appeal to anyone...especially anyone craving a snack. I often bring trail mix with me when I go hiking or camping and especially love the varieties that combine sweet and savory.

I recently read an article from that gave a great overview of trail mix...from how trail mix was invented to ingredients for the perfect trail mix. Here is a review of what I read and some of my favorite trail mix ingredients...

According to legend (from Hadley Fruit Orchards), in 1968, trail mix was to be eaten while hiking or doing another strenuous activity. It is lightweight, portable and is full of energy dense ingredients like dried fruit, nuts and chocolate (and can pack a hefty caloric punch when not used appropriately).

The Ingredients (taken from

  • These pint-sized nutritional dynamos are loaded with healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamin E and other essential vitamins and minerals.  
  • Whether they’re raw or roasted, go for unsalted, unsweetened nuts to keep sugar and sodium under control.
  • Healthy favorites: Almonds, pistachios, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts. Higher-calorie macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, and pine nuts are also good options in moderation. 
  • For those with nut allergies (or just looking to mix things up), seeds provide many of the same nutritional benefits as nuts. 
  • Healthy favorites: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax or hemp seeds in trail mix for an extra boost of nutrients.
Dried Fruit
  • This sugary treat can easily become a danger food, so pay attention to the ingredient list and serving sizes. In moderation, dried fruit can be a great source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium and vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Look for dried fruit options with as little added sugar and preservatives as possible (some varieties, like cranberries, are naturally quite tart and almost always sweetened with cane sugar or apple juice). 
  • Healthy favorites: Dried apples, cherries, cranberries, goji berries, blueberries, strawberries, apricots, raisins, banana chips, figs, pineapple chunks, mango, and dates.
  • Grains add complex carbohydrates for extra fiber and make you feel full
  • Choose whole grains whenever possible and avoid highly processed cereals that add unnecessary sugar and sodium.
  • Healthy favorites: Shredded wheat cereal, pretzels, toasted oats, puffed rice cereal and air-popped popcorn can all add a little bit of crunch.
  • Sometimes we all need a little something sweet to round out the mix. Just remember to add treat-like options sparingly (unless you’re making dessert instead of a snack).
  • Favorites: M&Ms, chips of various kinds (chocolate, peanut butter, carob, butterscotch), cacao nibs, yogurt-covered raisins, chocolate-covered coffee beans, mini marshmallows, or chocolate-covered nuts. When going the chocolate route, dark varieties add extra antioxidants.
Savory Extras
  • Adding spices is a great way to change up the flavor - season the mix with sea salt, curry, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, or cayenne pepper. 
  • Also try wasabi peas, coconut flakes, dried ginger and dark chocolate covered coffee beans.

Some of my favorite combinations include...
  • Cashews, almonds, white chocolate chips, dried cranberries, dried blueberries
  • Almonds, cashews, dried cherries, dark chocolate nibs
  • Almonds, peanuts, cranberries and wasabi peas (Trader Joe's "Wasabi Wow")
  • Almonds, cashews, dried cranberries, chocolate covered powerberries (Trader Joe's "Powerberries Trail Mix")
  • Cashews, peanuts, raisins, cranberries, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips

I hope this gives you some ideas for experimenting with trail mix on your own.