May 26, 2015

Spice up your homemade trail mix

You can make dried fruit to add to trail mix at home with the use of an oven or a dehydrator.

You can make dried fruit to add to trail mix at home with the use of an oven or a dehydrator.

While attending Boulder culinary school, you are surrounded with amazing opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy the beautiful mountains and weather. Rock climbing and hiking can be great ways to work up an appetite, and having a healthy snack on hand is mandatory. Trail mix is a super versatile way to get some fast calories no matter where you are. Here are a few ingredients to add to your next batch:

Dried fruit
Fruit is delicious and offers a sweet pick-me-up while you are out on the trails. The only trouble is transporting it. Apples may hold up well in a backpack, but most other options (think apricots, bananas and peaches) tend to turn your bag into a juicy disaster. Instead of dealing with the mess, add dried fruit to your trail mix. You can bake it in the oven at home or use a dehydrator to do it yourself. Or, buy pre-packaged fruits at just about any grocery store. The only downside to these already-made versions is their sugar content. Many companies add sugar to “candy” the fruits. If that’s all right with you, don’t worry about it. For a taste that’s more true to the fruit, look for varieties without added sugar.

Fiber
It’s important to have fiber and carbohydrates in your trail mix to help you have sustained energy. While sugary bits like M&Ms may give you a boost instantaneously, items like popcorn and oats will help you to stay energetic longer. Pretzels, cheerios, bran flakes, flax and chia seeds are all great options to keep you going for your entire day’s worth of adventuring. Crackers are also another addition that offers long-lasting carbohydrates. Look for pretzels or whole wheat options made with rice flour for the healthiest option. Cheesy varieties like Cheeze-It’s or Goldfish also offer some exciting flavor.

Sweets
You can add basically any kind of candy to trail mix and it’s going to taste good. Plus, sugar gives you a quick burst of energy, which is super helpful when you need a little extra something to help you reach the summit or make it to the end of your route. Chocolate or yogurt-covered treats are likely to melt in your bag and spread their sugary goodness to basically every other ingredient in your trail mix. Plus, they can make it go from a bag full of tiny individual items to easy-to-eat chunks. Great sweets to consider tossing into your trail mix include:

  • Chocolate chips
  • Sweetened coconut flakes
  • Butterscotch chips
  • Liquorice
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Peanut butter kisses
  • Mini peanut butter cups
  • The list goes on forever. Just add your favorite candy or two and you’re set.

Nuts
Nuts are loaded with protein, which will help your body sustain energy just like carbohydrates and fibers. Think of holiday get-togethers when you find yourself picking through the mixed nuts appetizer. What ones do you eat? Grab a bag or two of those and toss them into your trail mix container. Pecans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, pistachios and more are all excellent additions to your on-the-go eats.

Some people don’t enjoy the chocolaty, salty mess that trail mix often leaves on their fingers. Or they end up sifting through the bag to find the parts they want to eat at the moment, often ignoring the healthy items (nuts, fruit) and going for the candies instead. If this sounds like you, consider making trail mix cookies or bars. These combine all of the ingredients you would add to trail mix with a little coconut oil, honey and oats to make simple bite-sized cookie balls or energy bars. Blogger Housewife in Training makes her version in just under 10 minutes and is ready to get outside or back to other activities. You can play with her recipe and add your favorite ingredients to make similar snacks for your next trip.