Not all trail mixes are created equal! With this tutorial on how to build a healthy trail mix, you’ll get the low-down on what to include, what not to include and how to customize your trail mix to your needs and wants!
Trail Mix gets a bad rap far too frequently. I’m not going to delve into the conversation as to why fat is good for you (mainly because it’s the weekend and I don’t need to get worked up before it), but let’s just say that all of the flack that trail mix gets in the weight-loss and occasionally healthy living community isn’t always warranted.
I’m not about to go out and say that most conventional trail-mixes on the market are healthy, because that would be straight falsehood, but I am going to try to convince you that your conceptions as to why trail mix isn’t part of a healthy diet stem from all of the wrong accusations.
True, trail mix is high in fat and sugar. Fat from the nuts and seeds and sugar from the dried fruit and occasional add-ins. *News alert* your bodies need both fat and sugar to function. Again, not going to delve too much into this, but the important thing here is that it’s the QUALITY of the fat and sugar that affect our bodies, not whether or not it’s a part of our diet.
God only know where they’re sourcing their ingredients from, and typically their dried fruit is coated in sugar, nuts and seeds roasted in hydrogenated oils and then the entire mix is coated in bad-quality salt and jacked up in price. I think you’re getting where I’m going with this…
I think good quality trail mix, in moderation is 100% part of a healthy diet. Especially in those circumstances of high physical activity where you need energy, fast.
I will forever associate trail mix with my hiking adventures. I pretty much exclusively munch on trail mix when I’m out hiking to a point where it also starts to infiltrate all of my meals. It just packs a serious nutrition bang for its buck.
In September, I’ll be hiking in Yosemite and being the planner that I am, I am already prepping every detail, including this healthy trail mix! I mean I needed to make sure it tasted good at least 7 times before we actually leave…right?!
I have my go-to trail mix, which I’ll share with you today, but I’ve also created a customizable recipe so that you can sub in and sub out your favourite ingredients. But before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s have a look at the anatomy of the trail mix:
1. Nuts – Feel free to use any kind of nut here! Ideally, purchase raw nuts that haven’t been coated and roasted in hydrogenated or soybean oils and salt. You’re welcome to dry roast them at home for an added toastiness, but if you’re a nut purist, just keep them raw.
2. Seeds – Don’t forget about seeds! Often overlooked for the health benefits of nuts, seeds actually pack a serious nutritional punch including protein, iron, magnesium and an array of vitamins and minerals. Again, look for raw, unsalted seeds.
3. Dried Fruit – Because of the high sugar content in dried fruit, they’re a great snack to help boost your low blood sugar after a high dose of physical activity. Be careful when picking dried fruit! Do your best to find sun dried fruit that isn’t coated in sugar and is ideally unsulfured. It’s more expensive, but it’s worth it.
4. Fun Stuff!– Just because it’s healthy doesn’t mean you can’t throw in a little fun! I’m all about balance, so feel free to add in a handful of your favourite decadent or healthified decadent treat. Dark chocolate and popcorn are my favs so those are my go-tos but feel free to get a little crazy with some pretzels, peanut butter chips or other sweet treat.
Now let’s learn how to build your own healthy trail mix!
Serves: 4-5 cups
Serving size: 1/2 cup
- 1 1/2 cups raw nuts i.e. almonds, pecans, cashews, peanuts etc..
- 1 cup raw seeds i.e. sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds etc...
- 1 cup unsweetened, unsulphured dried fruit
- Fun stuff (amounts vary) i.e. 1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate, 1 cup popped popcorn, 1 cup pretzels etc..
- Spice i.e. 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, pinch of nutmeg (optional)
- 3/4 cup raw pecans (I toast mine in the oven for 10 mins at 350 degrees F)
- 3/4 cup raw cashews (I toast mine in the oven for 10 mins at 350 degrees F)
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulfured cherries
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulfured raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped 82% dark chocolate
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- pinch of nutmeg
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
- Store in a ziploc bag or mason jar.
- Will keep for up to 1 month.