Raise your hand if you stopped eating trail mix because you had way too much of it as a kid?
Yeah, me too.
Between eating too much of it and the bad wrap it has in the health community I took a long break from trail mix.
But I'm so happy to say it's back! And in a much healthier way.
Most store-bought trail mix is loaded with sugar and artificial ingredients. Slapping a "healthy" label on a package that contains color-coated chocolates (food coloring is banned in most countries), sweetened dried fruit (no better than candy), sugar-coated or salted nuts (again, too much sugar, oil & salt), and loads of sodium really put a damper on the trail mix game.
However, making your own at home is really simple, and way less expensive. Not to mention a lot more healthy.
Here are some key tips to building your own healthy trail mix:
- Nuts: Raw, "activated," or sprouted are best. In general raw nuts are always better for you than roasted nuts. Eat them raw or dry roast them yourself if you prefer the taste. Nuts that are bought pre-roasted are usually filled with denatured oils and excess sodium. Keep them raw, or even better, "activate" the nuts by soaking and dehydrating them. I know most people don't have food dehydrators or the time to activate nuts, but if you have a hard time digesting them this extra step is well worth it. You can go a step further and sprout them if you're into it, but again, most people have 3 minutes to pull something like trail mix together. You can do it yourself or buy activated and/or sprouted nuts in some stores. At the very least, buy them raw.
- Seeds: Seeds are awesome! And so good for you. They can be a little challenging in trail mix because, well, they are so small. Chia and flax seeds are too small to get a handful of, so skip them in your trail mix. Sunflower seeds are almost too small but I use them here for flavor, extra fiber and extra nutrients. Pumpkin seeds work great in trail mix. Like nuts, raw or sprouted are best. Avoided roasted/salted seeds.
- Dried fruit: A little sweetness is great in your trail mix, just be sure to buy unsweetened dried fruit and keep it to a minimum. Raisins, dried cherries, cranberries and apricots are all great additions. Read your labels, you can find unsweetened dried fruit in the bulk sections of most natural grocery stores. A sprinkle of sea salt over your dried fruit works wonders for creating a really delicious trail mix.
- Chocolate: Avoid milk chocolate and sugar-filled chocolate products. Look for dark chocolate chips that are at least 70% cocoa. I think it's even better to buy vegan chocolate chips to avoid excess dairy, just read the label and look for something without a bunch of fillers. I used mini chocolate chips in the photo here because it's what I had, but next time I'll use bigger ones, the minis all fall to the bottom.
- Extras: organic popcorn (air-popped), organic rice crackers, or any other little treats are fun to add, too. Same as above, just be mindful that you're using good ingredients. I used a little sprouted popcorn in this recipe and was surprised at how much a little popcorn made a difference. It's addictive.
Basic Healthy Trail Mix Recipe
- 2 parts nuts
- 1 part seeds
- 1 part combo of chocolate, dried fruit, and extras
My Favorite Healthy Trail Mix Recipe
- 1 cup raw almonds (I use raw activated almonds)
- ¾ cup raw cashews
- 5 raw brazil nuts, rough chopped
- ⅔ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds
- ⅔ cup air popped popcorn (no oil or salt added)
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried cranberries, chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegan dark chocolate chips
- sea salt
Method: Chop any large ingredients if necessary to make everything about the same size. I chopped the brazil nuts to make them smaller and the dried cranberries so the distributed throughout the mix better. Give the dried fruit a light sprinkle of sea salt before you mix it in (it sticks better), or sprinkle the whole mix with salt if you prefer. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and enjoy! Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.