Trail mix is one of those foods that’s commonly thought of as a healthy snack food. Food manufacturers are tricky and they love to tell you how much protein you get from the nuts and how many vitamins and minerals you get from the fruit. But the reality is, most commercial trail mixes are just junk food dressed up as a nutritious snack. But I get it. I’ve found myself starving in an airport and unprepared. Trail mix is surely a better option than potato chips or chocolate covered pretzels right?
Well….that’s where things get a little hairy. I always seem to go back to the idea that it really depends on your definition of healthy, and everyone’s definition varies. For me personally, what constitutes a nutritious food is not merely a lack of calories or fat grams. For me, the presence of nutrient dense foods that are as unprocessed as possible and free of chemical additives is what makes something nutritious. Okay, I hear you. That pre-packaged trail mix is DE-LIC-IOUS. It’s loaded with MSG and M&Ms! What could be bad about that?
I know that we all try to make the best choice in the situations we find ourselves in, and sometimes better is good enough. But take a look at the ingredient list in this mix, and then ask yourself, is this better?
Sw eet ‘n Salty Mix® Chocolate Candies: confectionery coating [sugar, vegetable oil (fractionated palm kernel oil), cocoa (processed with alkali), nonfat milk, whey, lecithin, and vanillin (an artificial flavor)], sugar, coloring (includes blue #2 lake, blue #1 lake, red #40 lake, yellow #6 lake, yellow #6, yellow #5 lake, blue #1), gum arabic, corn syrup, confectioner’s glaze. Peanuts: roasted in peanut and/or cottonseed oil, salt. raisins. Sunflower Kernels: roasted in peanut and/or cottonseed oil, salt.
Alright let’s break this down a bit: first ingredient is SUGAR mixed with vegetable oil (a.k.a. crop oil causing widespread inflammation in the body). Let’s follow that up with some artificial flavors (likely MSG in code), more sugar, a myriad of artificial food dyes, more sugar…peanuts roasted in more crop oils…YIKES! We can do better than that.
Sweet and Salty Trail Mix can be a super nutritious snack, and it’s really quick to throw together! You can make a huge batch of it and it will last you for weeks. This is one snack I like to keep on hand and toss a handful into one of my reusable snack bags (because of course my toddler can’t make it through a walk without a snack). I like these snack bags because they’re reusable, and they’re made of organic cotton (as opposed to plastic). You can pop them in the washing machine with the rest of your laundry and they’re good as new. You can get yourself a set here.
So what makes my Sweet and Salty Trail Mix special? Well, first of all it’s delicious. You won’t miss the M&M’s in it. It’s sweet enough without them. Second, it’s easy to throw together. The only thing that takes preparation is the soaking and drying of the nuts. This is an important step guys. I know that if you’ve never heard of soaking your nuts, this step might seem like a pain in the behind. But it is necessary. For more information on why it’s important to soak your nuts and grains, check out this great post from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition called Is Soaking Nuts Necessary and Learn How Here.
I’ve also added a superfood into my mix by way of unsweetened, organic shredded coconut flakes. This is the ingredient that makes this mix magical, in my opinion. They’re super tasty and they add in some really healthy saturated fat by way of medium chain fatty acids to help give your metabolism a boost! I also opt for unsweetened dried fruit in my recipe. When you dry fruit, the naturally occurring sugars concentrate, so it’s sweet enough without adding additional sugar. There are NO inflammation causing crop oils in this mix (think vegetable, canola, cottonseed oil, etc.), only the naturally occurring oils from the nuts. And then the BEST part about my Sweet and Salty Trail Mix is that you can totally customize it to your liking. Feel free to use whatever variety of nuts or dried fruit you prefer.
This is the mix my family enjoys!
- 1½ cups soaked and dried almonds
- 1½ cups soaked and dried cashews
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- ½ cup sunflower seeds
- ½ cup dried tart cherries
- ½ cup dried mango
- ½ cup dried apricot
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (I like to use medium shred)
- ½ to 1 tbsp unrefined sea salt, depending on how salty you like it
- Place your cashews and almonds in a large bowl and cover with filtered water
- Add 1 tbsp of sea salt and stir to dissolve
- Soak the nuts for at least 7 hours, but overnight is fine
- Rinse the nuts and spread them evenly on a cookie sheet or dehydrator sheet
- If you have a dehydrator, dehydrate at 150 degrees for about 8 hours or until the moisture is gone. If you don't have a dehydrator, turn your oven to the lowest setting. For me that's 170. It takes about 6 hours to dehydrate at that temp.
- When the nuts have dried out, sprinkle them with sea salt to taste
- Roughly chop the dried fruit
- Add the nuts, dried fruit, seeds and coconut to a large mixing bowl
- Stir well to combine
- Store in mason jars or other airtight containers
I hope you enjoy this Sweet and Salty Trail Mix as much as we do!
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