A few months ago, my husband returned from a business trip with a partially eaten bag of trail mix purchased in the airport. It was probably the healthiest option available in the airport convenience store. Snacking on the store-bought mix had given my husband a new appreciation for trail mix, and he told me he planned to stock up on bags of trail mix at the grocery store to keep with him at work for healthy snacking.
That I simply could not stomach. Making trail mix is far too easy to spend your money on the version at the grocery store. Plus the airport version included fake M&Ms and hydrogenated vegetable oil. Yuck. Even the mixes at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods often have added sugar and other unnecessary ingredients. I quickly whipped up a version using ingredients I already had on hand. If you make granola, or regularly purchase nuts and dried fruit, you already have everything you need to make your own trail mix.
DIY Trail Mix2 parts nuts
1 part dried fruit
1 part chocolate chips
Measure and mix. Store in an air-tight container (I like to use a glass quart canning jar). Lasts for several weeks.
Why should you bother making your own trail mix?
- It's incredibly simple and easy. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed that I'm even posting this "recipe."
- It's cheaper!
- No added sugar or oils. No candy pieces.
- You can make it just the way you like it. Then you don't have to pick out or avoid that one thing you don't like.
- If you purchase in bulk, you are probably reducing the amount of packaging waste.
- You get to choose all the ingredients, which means you can include ingredients that are local, organic, low-salt, sugar-free, fair trade, sulfate-free, GMO-free: whatever is important to you!
That last reason is often the strongest motivation for me to make things myself rather than purchase them in the store. By making my own trail mix, for example, I can include chocolate that is responsibly sourced, which became important to me when I learned about the prevalence of child slavery in the cocoa industry (chocolate is not a must for every trail mix, but it is for my husband's). When I make my own trail mix, I also can use raisins and other dried fruit from the farmers market and almonds I recently purchased from a local supplier.
My first version was very simple and, since my husband isn't picky, was determined mostly by what needed to get used up from my nut and dried fruit stash. I used (approximately):
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup raisins and diced prunes
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
I used a quart mason jar for easy measuring. If you only fill it part way, you can just shake to mix. So easy!
The kids wanted to try it immediately, of course.
I think this is a good ratio of nuts to fruit and chocolate, although you could of course adjust it to your own liking.
My husband went through that first jar much too quickly. So the next time I filled up the jar all the way, poured it into a bowl and mixed it up, and then put it back in the jar. Don't worry, this didn't add an additional dish to my life because I used the same bowl later for the dinner salad. (I hate doing the dishes and am loathe to create dirty dishes unnecessarily.) For this batch, I dug out of the freezer the raw local unsalted almonds I purchased directly from the supplier, and used fat juicy raisins and prunes from the farmers market, plus chocolate chips. I also added some sunflower seeds this time for a little variety and because they were a little on the old side (note: store all unopened containers of nuts in the freezer to extend their shelf life).
My husband brings home the jar once every week or two and gets a refill. Easy peasy.
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