Healthy, versatile, and totally adaptable, nothing curbs a crunch craving quite like a healthy trail mix recipe. You’ll love this sweet and salty version!
Every afternoon it strikes me. Somewhere in the lull between lunch and dinner that twinge of hunger appears, and the crunch monster inside me starts a-grumbling.
For me, it’s the most dangerous time of the day. When the crunch monster gets hungry there’s no telling what he might reach for. It could be carrots…or it could be carrot’s equally orange but slightly less healthy cousin, Doritos.
I’ve gotten to know the crunch monster pretty well over the years, and I’ve learned that nothing makes him happier than a handful of crunchy, sweet, and salty trail mix.
For two years running, I’ve kept a stash of trail mix in my desk drawer at work so I always have something healthy to keep the crunch monster satisfied.
I used to buy trail mix in the stores, but after awhile I got bored with the options. I also got sick of picking around the dried out raisins. You know the kind–those stale hard globs that stick in your teeth and leave your tongue to dig them out for the rest of the afternoon. Not cool, raisins.
Plus, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but trail mix can be expensive! Buying in bulk allows you to create a trail mix with only things you love AND save a buck or two along the way.
Creating your own perfect healthy trail mix is easy. Below I’ve included some guidelines to get you started.
- Nuts usually makes up the majority of trail mix recipes. Nuts are chock full of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, which help you feel fuller longer and give you a sustained energy boosts.
- It’s best to choose nuts that are unsalted, unroasted or dry roasted, and without any added sugar, oils, or preservatives.
- I like to put 2 kinds of nuts in my trail mix, one cup of each. My favorite combo is almonds and cashews–almonds for crunch and cashews for their rich, buttery taste and slight sweetness. These, along with pistachios, are also the lowest calorie nut. You can also include seeds in your mix, if you like.
- For a great guide to nuts, including calories, protein, fiber, and fat contents, check out The Ultimate Guide to Nuts infographic.
- Look for varieties with limited added sugar. I like to use dried cranberries and dried bananas. I’m a total sucker for dried bananas. Again, you just can’t beat the crunch! Dried apples, blueberries, pineapple, raisins, or dates are also good options.
- Fruits with little or no added sugar or best. Tart fruits like cranberries are likely to be sweetened with something. If they are, look for them to be sweetened with 100% fruit juice rather than high fructose corn syrup or other sugars.
- Depending on the size of your dried fruits, you’ll want to add 1-2 cups to your mix.
While not quite the nutritional dynamos of nuts or dried fruits, I like to add some fun extras to keep things interesting. Stick with simple, low calorie treats. One of my college roommates used to snack on a mixture of oyster crackers and dark chocolate. I used to think she was weird. Until I tried it. OMG. The salty crunch of the oyster crackers paired with the smooth, bittersweet chocolate is a combo that’s hard to quit.
Now, I like to add oyster crackers to my trail mix as a tribute to my former roommates’ snack genius. Pretzels, granola, puffed rice cereal, wheat chex, or cheerios are also good options. I usually keep these fun extras to 1 cup or less.
And then of course, there’s chocolate. I love dark chocolate and it actually has several health benefits, including helping to lower blood sugar and being packed with antioxidants. However, white chocolate can pair well with cranberries and other snack mixes, and M&Ms are a classic trail mix choice. Just remember, these options will be higher in calories, so keep the add-ins to 1/3 cup or less.
Just out of curiosity, I ran my trail mix recipe through the calorie counter to see how it stacks up against store bought versions. This stuff will run you 110-130 calories per 1/4 cup serving which is actually a little lower than most store bought brands. As with any snack, portion control is important, but a handful of this trail mix is a great energy booster and craving-curber you can enjoy guilt free!
You can use my ultimate trail mix recipe below as a starting place for creating your own favorite mix. Go forth and mix it up!