Heading out on an adventure this summer? Pack some of this make your own trail mix so you can fuel up on the goal. It’s easy, flexible and perfect for active people.
The first time I climbed a mountain — a mere year ago — it was like accepting a challenge from myself. With severe asthma, it had never seemed like something I could do. Hiking, particularly hikes up mountains and down the other side, was for other folks … not me. But after a long trek up, with a few pauses to appreciate the views (and my medicine), I found myself at the top of a mountain.
It was an amazing experience.
Since then, we’ve trekked up several more mountains … including two peaks in one hike recently. Though I don’t consider myself athletic, I am finding that my body can do and handle more than I’d given it credit for before. And overall, I love the feeling that comes when you’re standing at the tip-top of something. I love knowing that my body brought me there.
As we’ve embarked on long and short hikes, up mountains and on flat land, through the woods, bogs and wherever else trails lead, I’ve learned a few things: Always bring more water than you think you need. Sunscreen and bug spray aren’t optional. And a body-fueling snack, like trail mix, is always a good idea.
I’ve kind of fallen in love with trail mix — the combination of nuts and dried fruit, and sometimes other goodies. It’s a portable snack that provides good fuel for the body when you’re on the go. We don’t just eat it when we’re hiking, though. I also send it to camp with the kids and take it to work on busy days. With the variety of flavors and textures, it’s a good snack that’s also very satisfying. Just be sure not to overdo your portion sizes. An ounce or two of this should generally be enough.
For a little while in early summer, I was making little individual containers of trail mix — pulling from the dried fruits and nuts we already have in the kitchen — every day. It was fun because I could create different mixes each time for each person. But it was also time consuming.
While making mini mixes every day is a little too much work, it’s a great idea to make your own trail mix. When you buy already mixed ones, you’re at the mercy of the manufacturer, who decides what goes into it and how much. When you create your own, you make all the choices. Want it more salty? Add more roasted and salted nuts. More sweet or tart? Change up the fruits. Don’t like papaya? Don’t use it.
So now, we’re making big mixes customized to our individual preferences. Will loves pistachios so adds a lot of those to his. Paige loves dried fruits and cashews so she bulks up on those. I like a pretty even sweet-salty mix, so dry-roasted nuts are a must for mine.
Sometimes, it’s nice to add a treat to trail mix too — a little dark chocolate, candy-coated bits or even yogurt covered whatever. But in summertime, avoid it. Though it can be a nice treat to include in cooler weather, it gets pretty messy when it’s hot out.
The trail mix you make is great for taking to day camps, on hikes and to the beach all summer long. You could even bring the whole container camping, if that’s your sort of thing.
How to Make Your Own Trail Mix
What You Need:
- Resealable containers. I found these ones at the dollar store, and they’re perfect for big batches. You need two sizes: Big for the big batch of trail mix, and something smaller for transporting it on the go.
- A permanent marker. Write the date created, and if making individual trail mixes, the name of the creator (or the person who’s to eat it).
- Dried fruit, nuts, seeds. A lot of the dried fruit we used came from bulk bins at a local natural foods store. You can also find dried fruit, nuts and seeds in supermarkets, Target and even the dollar store. Choose a selection so you can mix and match
What You Don’t Need:
- Chocolate. In summertime, it’s just too messy.
- Fancy containers. Go basic and airtight. You’ll need big containers for the big batch and small containers or snack size bags for taking it on the go.
- Expensive nuts. Look for the most cost effective options. And don’t be afraid to buy just what you need from the bulk bin.
How to Do It:
- Write the name of the person creating the mix on the container. It’s a good idea to date it as well. Permanent marker will scrub off a container, but if you are more comfortable, do this on a piece of masking date.
- Create the mix. I encourage my kids not to make more than they’ll want to eat in a week or two. Small batches mean you can update, change and freshen up the mix with different ingredients next time.
- Store the airtight container in a visible spot. Have snack containers or baggies at the ready to grab some and go.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.