Trail mix is the perfect energizer for long-distance hikes, or it's a delicious snack to enjoy when you're hungry at home. But why buy trail mix from the store when you can prepare your own trail mix recipe at home?
Packed full of nuts and dried fruits, it's easy to prepare healthy, homemade trail mix just the way you like it. Throw in some pecans, add some extra almonds, or mix in some chocolate chips for a little sweetness!
Keep reading, and find out how to make your own trail mix that's healthy and simple to prepare.
What's in Trail Mix?
Designed to be eaten on the go, trail mix has been a favored snack for hikers for well over a century. Trail mix is a mixture of nuts, fruits, and seeds that can be complemented with seasonings, candy, chocolate, and other ingredients that have a high energy content.
Trail mix recipes really do vary, but they are all designed to be easily portable and to provide you with lots of energy for outdoor activities. They are also long-lasting and easy to store, being primarily composed of dried or preserved ingredients. Here's a breakdown of the most common ingredients that you'll find in trail mix recipes.
You can't have a real trail mix without the nuts because nuts are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and energy (and they are delicious).
Most trail mixes have at least one variety of nuts, but many more include multiple types of nuts in the recipe. Popular trail mix nuts include the likes of almonds and cashews, but you can also try out pecans, walnuts, and of course, peanuts!
Dried fruit trail mix is the best, and you can include everything from dried raisins and apricots to dried banana, dried mango, or even a few goji berries.
Dried fruit is a fantastic source of flavor and energy, giving you a healthy yet sweet addition to the trail mix. If you are planning on eating the trail mix the same day, you could even opt for a few pieces of fresh fruit, to mix things up a little.
There are all kinds of different seeds that work well in a trail mix, providing extra nutrition such as fiber and omega-3 while also adding to the flavor.
Excellent seed choices for a healthy trail mix include the likes of flax seeds and chia seeds. You can also go for sunflower seeds or pepitas.
Sweet and savory toppings
If you're making your own trail mix, you can get creative. In addition to the standard nuts, fruit, and seeds, it's great to add either a sweet or savory element to the mix.
Sweet toppings such as chocolate or candy are the perfect energy and morale boosters on a long day hike, while savory toppings such as roasted lentils or chickpeas are excellent sources of protein.
Extra seasoning works well too. For added sweetness, try a sprinkling of cinnamon or chocolate powder, or mix things up with some chili powder!
Why Make Trail Mix at Home?
There are plenty of good reasons to prepare your own trail mix at home rather than purchasing ready-made trail mix from the store. Of course, making your own trail mix takes a little thought and planning (you need to make sure you pick up the right ingredients), but we firmly believe that the benefits outweigh the extra effort involved.
For starters, once you have your ingredients, it's really not difficult to make trail mix. All you do is mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Make the process efficient, too, by preparing trail mix in bulk; that way, you can mix up a huge batch and have a healthy trail mix ready to go, all of the time. Trail mix lasts for at least for 2 weeks, so this is a great option for anyone interested in seeing the benefits of meal prepping first hand!
Perhaps most importantly of all, trail mix allows you to select the exact ingredients you like best or that are needed to suit your dietary requirements. If you're keto, then you can ensure you make a low carb trail mix, or if you're working out, put together a high protein trail mix with lots of added beans and nuts.
Equally, while nuts are one of the most common trail mix ingredients, if you have allergies, then it's also possible to prepare a nut free trail mix recipe. A trail mix recipe without nuts can instead include added fruits, extra seeds, or lots of dried legumes.
And is it cheaper to make trail mix at home? This depends on the ingredients you buy and the number of ingredients you buy at once. Purchasing trail mix ingredients in bulk is going to help you to cut down on costs, so if you're a big fan of trail mix, then preparing a large amount at once can certainly help you to save money in the long run.
Quality, though, is more important. While some ready-made trail mixes are super cheap to buy at the store, they never contain the best ingredients. Selecting your own nuts and dried fruits, and preparing your own recipes, is the best way to ensure that the quality of your trail mix is the best it can be.
Is Trail Mix Healthy?
Homemade trail mix can be as healthy as you want it to be. Selecting your own ingredients and combinations of nuts, fruit, and seeds allows you to be as healthy (or unhealthy) as you want to be. If you're counting the calories, then leave out the chocolate, or if you need more protein, add in extra chickpeas.
As a snack, trail mix is much healthier than other options you could be eating. It's far better than opening a packet of chips or making a grilled cheese sandwich when you're hungry. Trail mix can become a great source of energy, as well as an excellent way to include important nutrients and vitamins in your diet!
But don't forget, trail mix is designed for the trail. While the benefits of trail mix are great, it's also high in calories and, in many cases, has high sugar content. That's fine if you're out hiking all day, but when you're just snacking at home, those calories add up if they aren't being burned off.
If your trail mix is for home consumption, then leave out the sweet and sugary elements. Go for savory ingredients instead!
How to Make Trail Mix at Home
It's super simple to customize your own easy trail mix recipe, so we've put together 3 different combinations of nuts, sweets, and dried fruit that you can try out at home. Feel free to add in extra ingredients or combine the recipes.
Each of the ingredient lists below will yield around 2 ½ cups worth of DIY trail mix. You can scale this up, though, if you've got a long hike ahead of you! To actually make the trail mix, you select your ingredients, and then you mix them together in a bowl. Store the trail mix in mason jars, resealable containers, or zip lock bags. Here's how to build your own trail mix!
Cherry and chocolate trail mix
- ⅔ cup of dried cherries
- ¼ cup of chocolate chips
- ¼ cup of almonds
- ¼ cup of pecans
- ¼ cup of walnuts
- ¼ cup of pepitas
Peanut and chocolate candy trail mix
- 1 cup of peanuts
- ⅔ cup of raisins
- ¼ cup of chocolate chips
- ¼ cup of your favorite candy (chunks of chocolate bars or M&Ms work well!)
Fruit and nut mix
- ½ cup of almonds
- ½ cup of cashews
- ½ cup of pecans
- ½ cup of raisins
- ½ cup of dried cranberries
How to Store Homemade Trail Mix
Trail mix is easy to store and transport, as it doesn't need to be refrigerated. Using dried fruit and other preserved ingredients ensures that homemade trail mix can last for 2 weeks. That's great if you want to make trail mix in bulk or if you've got a long-distance hike that you need fuel for.
If you're at home snacking on your healthy trail mix while you work or watch TV, then you can store trail mix in large mason jars. If you're out hiking, you need something a little lighter. We suggest Ziploc bags, but don't throw them away when they are empty – reuse them next time!
Last Word: Homemade Trail Mix Recipe
Healthy trail mix is easy to prepare at home. It's simply a matter of selecting your favorite nuts and dried fruits (and chocolate or candy!) and mixing them all together. Homemade trail mix recipes can be customized and prepared exactly how you like them, and when made in bulk, it offers a much better value than buying pre-made products at the store.
Why not bookmark our homemade trail mix recipes, and prepare tasty trail mix just the way you like it?