The weather’s finally starting to cool down, which means that hiking season is here! For at least the past century, trail mix has been a preferred snack for hikers; it’s easily portable, lightweight, and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. With the right ingredients, it provides sugar for a quick burst of energy as well as protein for more sustained efforts: factors that also make it a great snack for work. As with most foods, however, it’s important to check the nutritional information on prepared trail mixes before assuming that they’re all healthy; some of them are so loaded with sugar, fat, and salt that they should be treated like a dessert or special treat, not a healthy snack.
One way to avoid confusion about trail mixes is to make your own. You can craft it to meet your own specific tastes and be sure to avoid any surprises in the fat, sugar, and salt departments. Here’s a handy guide on making your own trail mix.
Go crazy: add protein with nuts, legumes, and seeds.
The base of your trail mix—at least 50%—should be comprised of nuts, legumes, and seeds for protein. Whenever possible, choose options without extra salt and fat; you can always add your own salt later. These are good nut choices:
Good legume choices include the following:
- Soybeans/edamame (dried or roasted)
- Chickpeas (dried or roasted)
These are good seed choices:
Go slower: add sugar and fiber with dried fruit.
Dried fruit is a delicious part of many trail mixes. It provides a little sweetness, a little tartness, and some sugar and fiber to get you through the day. As with your protein choices, try to avoid extra fat and sugar. Banana chips, for instance, are often fried! And some dried fruits are loaded with sugar. When adding dried fruit to your trail mix, aim for about 40% of the total. Good dried fruit options include these:
- Apple chips
Be careful: add treats.
Added sparingly, treats like candy can make your trail mix extremely appealing, but make sure to keep the percentage to no more than 10%. Yummy treats include the following:
- Chocolate-covered fruit or pretzels
- Yogurt-covered fruit or pretzels
- Chocolate chips