When hiking or out on the town, trail mix offers protein, carbohydrates, and sugars to keep you going. However, the recipe will significantly influence the health benefits (or lack thereof) you receive from your tail mix recipe. So, it is important to understand what components go into a healthy homemade trail mix, and which components you can omit or reduce in the mix.
Keep an Eye on Nutrition Counts
Trail mix is not meant to eat in bulk; instead, an average serving is approximately a ¼-cup. Any more than that and you can see the calorie count add up fast. Most importantly, a ¼-cup should deliver a balance of nutrients, energy, and sugar. While the ones in the store come with chocolate, this is to encourage people to buy, but chocolate does not equate with healthy. If you have a sweet tooth, consider dried fruit.
If you really need your chocolate fix, then opt for dark chocolate, but avoid the chocolate candies and chocolate chips.
How to Make Trail Mix
Making your own tail mix recipes is easy. You will combine equal parts of each component, mix them all together, and store in an airtight container or plastic bag.
Almonds are the healthy nut, which makes them ideal for healthy trail mix recipes. They have monosaturated fat as well as high protein counts. Almonds also carry plenty of vitamin E and fiber to make you feel full longer. Whole or sliced almonds, according to FitDay, are an excellent addition to your trail mix, but you need to avoid salted ones – they will increase thirst out on the trail.
If almonds are not your typical nut, any raw or dry-roasted nut without salt will do. Walnuts, for example, provide you with Omega-3 fatty acids.
Dried, unsweetened fruits are best for trail mix. Stick to the classics, such as raisins, or branch out with dried cranberries and apple slices. Dried fruit adds a natural sweetness to your trail mix, says Food Network, but they also add vitamins and fiber.
Seeds are an excellent addition to trail mix, especially for those that have nut allergies. Seeds add crunch and offer the same nutritional benefit as nuts, so you are not missing anything if you use them instead of almonds or other nuts.
Hemp seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, linolenic acid, iron, protein, and calcium. You can use any type of dry or raw seed, but avoid the salted varieties, says The Greatist. Some good seed options include pumpkin, sunflower, flax and sesame seeds.
Trail mix is rather crunchy on its own, but if you desire more of a crunch, you can add things like mini pretzels, soybeans, popcorn, and whole grain cereal.
Bonus Trail Mix Items
There are other ingredients you can add for flavor and texture. For example, toasted coconut or Cajun seasoning. Just use these “extras” sparingly since they offer more calories.