Trail mix is a hiking and camping staple. It’s not hard to see why: it’s bite sized, portable, and easily customized to suit one’s tastes. Even better, trail mix can be healthy, as the main components are dried fruits and nuts. In fact, trail mix is commonly referred to as GORP, which stands for “good old raisins and peanuts.”
Yet trail mix can quickly become unhealthy if too many nutritionally lacking ingredients are added to the mix. While a serving of trail mix can provide protein, carbohydrates, and nutrients, it’s easy to go overboard and eat more than one serving size at a time (or even two or three).
Pre-made, pre-packaged trail mix is readily available in stores, but it’s just as easy to make your own. Homemade trail mix can ensure that certain nutritional requirements are met, possible allergies are accounted for, and favorite components are plentiful. What kid wouldn’t love mixing up his own concoction of goodies?
Choose an item from each category to make a healthy, nutritious batch of trail mix:
- Protein: Peanuts are the traditional favorite, but almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, or pumpkin seeds work as well.
- Carbohydrates: Raisins are the most common ingredient, but dehydrated pineapple, bananas, cherries, or craisins all work,
- Long-lasting carbohydrates: These aren’t exactly nutritional powerhouses, but offer staying power on long hikes. Pretzel sticks, unsweetened cereal, air-popped popcorn, and cracker bits fit the bill. My personal favorite, though not necessarily a healthy option, is animal crackers.
- Sweets: M&Ms or chocolate chips usually fill in here, although shredded coconut or crystallized ginger add more nutrients.
How much of each ingredient is up to you. Usually an equal amount from each category is just about right, although you can add or decrease according to taste. So mix it up, chomp it down, and let us know what your trail mix looks (and tastes) like!