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How To Build a Healthy Trail Mix

August 4, 2015

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!

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.

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!If trail mix was all built like this recipe, you could rest assured that it is of the utmost quality; however, few store-bought trail mixes are this simple.

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.

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!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:

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!

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. SeedsDon’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!

SAVE print

How To Build a Healthy Trail Mix

Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Serves 1/2 cup     adjust servings

Ingredients

For the customizable version

  • 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)

My Go-To Trail Mix Recipe

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Store in a ziploc bag or mason jar.
  3. Will keep for up to 1 month.

by

Notes

Optional: If you really need the extra sweetness, you can coat the mix with 2 T maple syrup, spread it out on a baking sheet and allow it to dry before bagging.

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, is it part of a healthy diet? What would you include in your custom version?

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  • Reply
    Cassie
    August 4, 2015 at 10:23 am

    I love trail mix to put onto yogurt, pancakes and smoothies!! Mine, however, would have a lot more chocolate! 😀
    Cassie recently posted…Wild Foods Vanilla Bean Powder Review + Cake Batter Crumble Oatmeal Recipe

  • Reply
    Stacy
    August 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    YUM! I never thought about putting popcorn into trail mix…that’s going on my to-do list!
    Stacy recently posted…Basic Sun Salutations to Focus Your Mind.

  • Reply
    Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen
    August 4, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Couldn’t agree more about the store-bought stuff! I wish people would realize just how easy making your own trail mix really is, and healthier! Just have to broaden your horizons. Hopefully this post helps! 😉
    Ashley @ Fit Mitten Kitchen recently posted…Nut-Free Chocolate Energy Balls [Vegan, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free]

  • Reply
    Laur
    August 4, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    I love trail mixes but I definitely need to watch the portions! My hand just keeps going back to the bag haha! With this said, I like to use them as “toppings” to everything instead! It adds a nice crunch!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      August 5, 2015 at 6:57 am

      Tell me about it! Hence why the recipe includes a disclaimer that will-power isn’t included 😉

  • Reply
    Sabrina @ Nutritiously Sweet
    August 4, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Mmm this looks delicious and exactly like what I make except the pecans – I do peanuts and some raisins thrown in!

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      August 5, 2015 at 6:57 am

      Yes! I’m currently really digging pecans, but peanuts would be perfect too!

  • Reply
    Frances Melendez
    September 2, 2015 at 5:33 am

    Once the building blocks are all set, adding spices is a great way to change up the flavor a bit. Or create your own mix of spices.

    • Reply
      Davida Kugelmass
      September 3, 2015 at 9:18 am

      Agreed! I’ve tried it with pumpkin spice and it’s great!

  • Reply
    Joy
    August 14, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    I made your go-to recipe except I added double raisins (instead of cherries since I could find any other dried fruit without added sugar), omitted the chocolate, and used walnuts instead of cashews. It is amazing! I roasted the pecans and walnuts – which I’ve never done – and those were incredible also. Thank you! So delicious!

    • Reply
      Joy
      August 14, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      Correction- I *couldn’t* find any other dried fruit without added sugar.

  • Reply
    Theresa
    February 8, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    I love dried cranberries in my trail mix!

  • Reply
    Digestive Blog
    March 14, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Trail Mix Is A Filling

    […] 00% part of a healthy diet. Especially in those circumstances of high physical a […]

  • Reply
    Sandra
    March 22, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    This sounds great, my problem is trying to figure out the calorie count for a homemade trail mix.
    How do you get a calorie count?

  • Reply
    Alex
    September 13, 2017 at 4:52 am

    I had to come up with an “Off the Trail” mix for my boyfriend who loves to eat trail mix as a general snack and has no clue what portion control is. I love the idea of adding popcorn since a bowl of seasoned popcorn didn’t work I’ve been looking to just make swaps. Roasting chickpeas until crispy works really well in it too and keep him feeling full too.

    • Reply
      Davida @ The Healthy Maven
      September 13, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      Thanks for the feedback, Alex! My partner is the same way. He has zero portion control with trail mix 😉

  • Reply
    Holly
    September 29, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    My post is more current than some of the others, but I want to say this is the mix I go to over and over and over again. I make special batches when we go on vacation so we can avoid the processed snacks that are all too easy to grab when going to the beach. I made some for an all-family vacation back in June and my youngest grandson (7 years) ate it instead of all the small boxes of sugared cereal his mother brought for him. I’m making another batch today and had to look it up since I can’t find it on my laptop right now. That’s what prompted me to write today. It’s better than anything else out there. Thanks!

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