How to Make Your Own Trail Mix
The key to healthy snacking is to be prepared. It’s much easier to resist temptation when you have one of your favorite snacks on hand. For me, that snack is trail mix. I love how easy it is to customize to my cravings. I also love that I can throw it in my bag and have it handy whenever I need it.
Every batch of trail mix turns out slightly different for me, but there is a general formula I use that I want to share with you. I focus on plant-based proteins, healthy fats, and or course, a little something sweet.
First we start with the nuts and seeds as the base of our trail mix. I choose an assortment of raw nuts and seeds to deliver a dose of healthy fats. They are rich in unsaturated fatty acids in addition to high quality protein, fiber, and antioxidants. Regularly eating nuts and seeds has been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, and inflammation. They lower cholesterol and blood pressure while fighting oxidative stress (R). Best of all, there is a variety to choose from. For nuts, stick to tree nuts. Although peanuts are usually grouped into the nut category, they are actually a legume, not a tree nut. Some of my favorites are walnuts, cashews, almonds, pistachios, and pecans. For seeds, some great choices are chia seeds, hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Balance the earthy flavors of nuts and seeds with a little something sweet. I love adding dried fruit and chocolate to my trail mix, for obvious flavor reasons (hello, chocolate!!) but also for the health benefits.
For chocolate, choose dark chocolate. The higher concentration of cacao offers health benefits you won’t find in milk chocolate. Namely, dark chocolate has an incredibly high content of polyphenols. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in our bodies, signaling our bodies to release nitric oxide. This provides protective effects for heart health (R).
Dried fruits have also been studied for their antioxidant properties. Like chocolate, they have high concentrations of polyphenols. Dates have the highest, with figs and plums being close behind (R). Goji berries are another superfood option to add to your trail mix. They alleviate oxidative stress and protect DNA against free radicals. They also fight against cancer and aging (R). Raisins and dried cranberries are also great options. When shopping for dried fruits, checked for any added sugar. Remember that dried fruit are naturally high in sugar to begin with. Some manufacturers also add sulfites to dried fruit to maintain their bright color. Because some people may be sensitive to sulfites, its best to choose dried fruits that are sulfite-free.
Now without further adieu, my current favorite trail mix recipe:
Yields 2 cups
1/4 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup raw pistachios
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup pumpkin seedsshredded coconut
1/4 cup goji berries
Mix all ingredients in a bowl.