Trail mix is a staple item for many hikers and campers, and they are intended to provide energy while also giving the body important nutrients during strenuous activity. However, many commercial products also contain additives, preservatives and sweeteners that may not be all that healthy. Let’s look at a couple of recipes that you can experiment with in order to make your own trail mix that can be more nutritious and less expensive than store-bought options.
You can choose almost any grain, nut, dried fruit and seasonings for your trail mix, and you can also mix-and-match in order to develop a wide-range of different flavors. The important thing is that you balance the categories properly in order to ensure that the mix provides the energy and nutrition that you need. It’s also important to balance the sweet parts of the mix in order to accommodate any dietary restrictions that someone may have. In any case, a good rule of thumb is to have 3 parts of carbs, 2 parts of protein and 2 parts of dried fruits. However, you can also improvise on this formula based on your needs and preferences as well.
Roasting or no Roasting
Some people prefer to roast their nuts before placing them in the mix. There is an endless debate as to whether or not roasting kills off nutrients, which may be counterproductive. However, roasting can enhance the flavor of the nuts and also help the seasonings to adhere to the nuts. This can provide for better flavor distribution because you won’t have to shake the bag of mix in order to get at the seasonings that would otherwise settle to the bottom.
If you roast the nuts, or some of the nuts, coat them with a little bit of cooking spray. Not a lot, just enough to cause the seasonings to stick. Give the nuts a shake or two as they are cooking to flip them over, and make sure they seasonings are evenly-coated. You can also add some cooking spray or olive oil to raw nuts and sprinkle seasonings as well, but you also run the risk of making the entire mix oily. Baking will minimize this problem.
You can stick with a basic recipe, such as nuts, some oats, seeds and raisins, or you can make spicy or seasoned variations as well. Try to use spices that provide health benefits in addition to adding some kick to your mix in order to benefit the most from this snack.
Basic and Sweet
Combine 3 parts of whole almonds with 2 parts of raisins and 1 part of chocolate chips. This will provide you with a quick burst of energy when needed, and the almonds will provide protein that can help to repair muscles as they undergo stress during a hike. Toss in a little bit of sea salt to bring out the flavor.
Garlic Pepper Mix
Take 3 parts of rice Chex or similar cereal and combine with 2 parts of seeds of your choice (sunflower or pumpkin work wonders). Add 2 parts of almonds before sprinkling some cayenne pepper, garlic and onion powder with a dash of salt. Adjust seasonings to taste, but try to keep the salt content to a minimum.
Fruit and Nut-Based Mix
Combine some cashews, peanuts, walnuts and almonds with some raisins. Add a little bit of salt. You can also add some dried bananas, apples or apricots as well. This will provide you with a good source of sugar and carbohydrates, while the different nuts will balance out your protein, mineral and amino acid requirements. They also contain healthy oils.
These are just a few examples of limitless options to try when making your own trail mix. Just remember that the quality of the mix will depend on the ingredients you use, and the more variety you can incorporate will generally produce a more efficient snack. It’s also important to be judicious when using sugar and salt. Try to add just the minimal amount to enhance flavor in order to avoid robbing the mix of its nutritional value.
In any case, get experimenting and see how making your own trail mix is a far-better option than purchasing products from your local supermarket. The only exception would be to purchase mix that has been specifically-designed for survival or wilderness excursions. Try to keep a supply on hand, in your pantry and in your bug-out bag so you can have access to them now as well as during a crisis.