making your own trail mix
I'm big on trail mix as a healthy snack. In fact, it's become my go-to snack over the years, as it hits on just about every point:
- Portion Control - eat as much as you need, depending on your needs and how many calories you can afford that day.
- Portability - no cooking, no cutting, no silverware, no refrigeration.. Just put some in a baggie or tupperware container and you're good to go.
- Yummy - enough said!
- Customizable - you select the nuts and the fruit, so you can vary the flavors each time you make it.
- Calorie Dense - at approximately 150 calories per 1/4 cup (depending on your specific mix), a little goes a long way. Eat just a little bit to take the edge off your hunger and give you an energy boost, then wait awhile before digging back in. If you wait, you probably won't need to dig back in.
- Nutrition Dense - you'll get a good blend of carbs, protein, and fat, which will give your body fuel to burn for the next couple hours. Plus you'll get the benefit of those unsaturated fatty acids (nuts) and antioxidants (fruit), which I've heard are good for you..
- Inexpensive - if you break it down to a calories per dollar calculation, you'll have a hard time finding less expensive snacks with this much to offer. Maybe fresh fruit (no protein or fat, and not as portable and doesn't stay fresh as long) or a can of tuna fish (no carbs, not as sweet, not as portable), but I doubt it. Certainly not protein bars or any other pre-packaged snacks..
How to make your own Trail Mix
I make my own trail mix from the bulk bins at the local health food market. (Sprouts, in my neighborhood.) I go to the builk aisles and choose 6 ingredients - 3 nuts and 3 fruit, and take one gigantic scoopful of each. Actually, I take an over-flowing scoopful of the nuts, and an under-flowing scoopful of the fruit, so my mix is a little more nutty than fruity. You can mix and match any number of flavors - I try to keep a good blend of some that are the least expensive with some that have a great flavor.
Here's an example:
- Almonds. Choices include whole, sliced, or diced, and raw, roasted, salted, unsalted, etc. I typically use the sliced almonds, just because it's easier for my kids to chew and it makes the mix more "mixey".
- Cashews. Whole or pieces. Salted or unsalted. Raw or honey roasted. Again, lots of choices, and like the almonds I generally use pieces instead of whole nuts.
- Peanuts. The least expensive of the nuts, with the most variations in choices. Just take a scoop of whatever looks good.
- With all the nuts, I want to make a blend of salted with unsalted, and raw with roasted (or honey roasted.) I'm not afraid of a little salt or honey-sweetened, but I don't want too much of either.
- I've also tried Walnuts, Macadamia nuts, Pecans, Sunflower seeds, and Pistachio meats, but I keep coming back to my first three options.
- Raisins. The least expensive fruit, so I include it almost every time.
- Pineapple. Everyone in my family loves the dried pineapple, so this has become a pretty common ingredient in my trail mix.
- Cherries or Cranberries. Depending on which one is on sale (the cherries can be particularly expensive sometimes). This gives our mix a little "pop" of flavor.
- I've also used blueberries, bananas, mangos, and papaya.
At home, combine the contents of all six bags into a big container, shake well, and you'll have yourself about 3 pounds of trail mix for about $12 - $15.
Regarding chocolate: My oldest son can't eat milk chocolate due to digestion issues, and I don't care for dark chocolate, so chocolate never makes it into our mix. This is actually the reason I started making my own several years ago. I suppose you could add a scoop of chocolate to your mix if you wanted to sweeten the pot, so to speak.
How about you? Are you a trail mix eater? Have you tried something similar? Let me know in the comments below.