If you’re looking for a healthy, on-the-go snack, you can’t do much better than trail mix, the hiker’s go-to energy boost.
I sometimes feel like I’m going to turn into an almond – I eat so many of them! Almonds are one of the most satisfying, healthy non-processed foods that I can throw into my bag and eat on the go, and I really do keep some in my bag with me at all times
But I crave a little variety now and then. Sometimes I, well, mix it up, and go for a nut combination with a tiny bit of sweetness that will last me until my next meal. I like to throw together a homemade trail mix with almonds, walnuts, carob chips, dried cranberries, strawberries, apricots, or other dried fruit. I keep it all in a large mason jar and scoop some into snack-sized plastic bags as needed. Storing it all in an airtight glass container is key; you don’t want your snack to get dried out or soggy, or to pick up off-tastes from a plastic container
Like anything else in life, trail mix is about balance – and moderation. Don’t eat too much at a time; a portion should be less than what you can fit in your cupped hand. Remember, it’s not a meal, it’s just a little something to satisfy your taste buds and your tummy between meals and steer you away from other, less healthy choices. Be smart about what you put into your custom mix, too. It can be tempting to load up on the sweet and starchy ingredients like sesame sticks, corn nuts, even M&Ms or marshmallows. The key here is maintaining the right proportion of wholesome, nutritious ingredients to indulgent ones. You can mix and match from the list below. Just keep in mind you should aim for a 4-to-1 healthy-food-to-goodies ratio.
HEALTHIES (4 parts of these)
Nuts: These give you lots of protein for sustained energy, and some disease-fighting antioxidants. Go for the ones with the most nutrients – almonds, cashews, and walnuts – and opt for raw when possible and always unsalted.
Seeds: Another source of protein and antioxidants, these bring more crunch to the party. Think pumpkin, chia, sunflower; you get the idea.
Grains: You can add filling fiber with a bit of granola, popcorn, corn nuts, sesame sticks, or whole-grain cereal. Be careful not to add processed foods that have a lot of carbs (I’m talking about you, sugary cereals and white-flour pretzels).
GOODIES (1 part of these)
Dried Fruit: These add color, chewiness, and sweetness. While they come from natural-food sources, be careful about adding too much of them, as they bring sugar and calories, too. I like dried berries best; they’re small so they spread around the mix well, and they have plenty of fiber and antioxidants.
Sweets: Here’s where you get to a have a little fun. Add bits of chocolate candies, yogurt-covered raisins, but not too much! Remember you want these treats to be the smallest part of your 4-to-1 mix. And if you’re feeling extra nutrition-conscious, go for dark chocolate: it has heart-healthy antioxidants.