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!
For me, afternoon is the most dangerous time of the day. Somewhere in the lull between lunch and dinner that twinge of hunger appears, and the crunch monster inside me starts a-grumbling.
When the crunch monster gets hungry there’s no telling what he might reach for.
Sure, it could be carrots… Or it could be carrot’s equally orange but less healthy cousin, cheese puffs.
Feed Your Crunch Monster Some Healthy Trail Mix
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 years, I’ve been keeping a stash of trail mix in my desk drawer at work so I always have something healthy to keep the crunch monster satisfied.
Make Your Own Homemade Trail Mix
I used to buy trail mix at the store, but after a while I got bored with the options. Costco trail mix is my favorite, but eventually everyone gets sick of plain old GORP. I also got tired of picking around the sub-par dried out raisin globs that get stuck in your teeth for the rest of the afternoon. Not cool, raisins!
Plus, trail mix is expensive, people! Buying the ingredients in bulk and making your own homemade trail mix allows you to customize your snack with only fresh and delicious things that you love. Plus, you’ll save some money along the way. That’s a win-win.
Creating your own perfect healthy trail mix is easy! Below I’ve included some guidelines to get you started.
Trail Mix Ingredients
Nuts For Trail Mix
- Nuts are the foundational ingredient of most recipes for trail mix. Nuts are chock full of protein, fiber, and healthy fats, which help you feel fuller longer and give you a sustained energy boost.
- To keep things healthy, 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. Fair warning though: the smaller the seeds, the more likely that they will just fall through to the bottom of your trail mix.
- For a great guide to nuts, including calories, protein, fiber, and fat contents, check out The Ultimate Guide to Nuts infographic.
Dried Fruits In Trail Mix
- For your fruit ingredients, look for varieties with limited added sugar. I like to use dried cranberries and dried bananas. I’m a total sucker for those banana chips (and the crunch monster approves). Dried apples, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, raisins, or dates are also good options.
- Tart fruits like cranberries are likely to be sweetened with something. If they are, try to select those that are 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.
Fun Extras (Mix-ins For Trail Mix)
While not quite the nutritional dynamos of nuts or dried fruits, I like to add some fun extras to keep things interesting.
- My college roommate used to snack on a mixture of oyster crackers and dark chocolate. I used to think she was weird. That is, 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. Just be sure to balance sweet with salty (depending on the taste you’re going for with your mix)
- You might see lots of recipes for trail mix that include your favorite cereal. But before you go adding Lucky Charms to your trail mix recipe, consider the dust at the bottom of a bag of that cereal, and ask yourself, “Would I want that dust all over my hands and/or pants?”
- Trail mix should be sturdy and easy to handle, and should not leave a mess on everyone who grabs a quick handful. So I would avoid any particularly crumbly or messy ingredients and things that go stale quickly (looking at you popcorn).
- I usually keep these fun extras to 1 cup or less.
Chocolate In Trail Mix
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,
imposterwhite chocolate can pair well with cranberries and other fruits.
- For outdoor trail mix, avoid baking chips (since they melt so easily) and stick with either chocolate covered raisins/nuts, or the thin candy shell variety.
- M&Ms are a classic trail mix choice, but the Mr. really has a love for Reese’s Pieces (not chocolate, I know, but it substitutes well). I have to hide these or I’ll find him gobbling them out of my baking drawer like some sort of crazed E.T. dad.
Just remember, these candy/chocolate ingredients will be higher in calories, so keep these add-ins to 1/3 cup or less in your trail mix recipe.
A Healthy Trail Mix Recipe – Better Than Store Bought
Lots of you are probably wondering if your recipes for trail mix are actually healthy, so 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 lower than most store bought brands (and homemade is definitely higher quality). As with any snack, portion control is important, but a handful of this trail mix is a great energy booster and craving-curber that you can enjoy guilt free!
Want More Recipes For Trail Mix?
You can use my healthy trail mix recipe below as the starting point for creating your own homemade trail mix.
Or, if you go ape for nuts and bananas, check out my Chunky Monkey Trail Mix!
Need even more ingredient inspiration? Consult the trail mix experts (the Boy Scouts) in this helpful trail mix ingredients guide.
Mix all the ingredients together. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. This is a VERY adaptable recipe. I just recommend keeping the following ratios. 2 cups nuts (try pecans, walnuts, or peanuts in place of the cashews or almonds) 1-2 cups dried fruits 1 cup salty, crunchy snack such as oyster crackers, pretzels or wheat chex 1/4-1/3 cup chocolate chips or M&Ms
Nutrition Information: Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 110-130
Mix all the ingredients together. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
This is a VERY adaptable recipe. I just recommend keeping the following ratios.
2 cups nuts (try pecans, walnuts, or peanuts in place of the cashews or almonds)
1-2 cups dried fruits
1 cup salty, crunchy snack such as oyster crackers, pretzels or wheat chex
1/4-1/3 cup chocolate chips or M&Ms