Make your own trail mix to get the kids involved in eating healthy foods. Let them pick the ingredients they love (that’s the best part!) then assemble and enjoy. Don’t be fooled by how kid-friendly it is. Adults love trail mix too!
The Health Benefit and Cost Savings of Making Your Own Trail Mix
Trail mix….gorp….scroggin…whatever name you choose to use, it’s that delicious, filling, and easily portable snack of hikers, backpackers, and moms everywhere!
Since it’s full of protein and good-for-you carbs and calories (and maybe just a few not so good for you carbs and calories!), this lightweight, energy-dense snack is easy to take with you on the go.
Making your own trail mix is great for several reasons:
- You can make it exactly how you and your family like it, with only the ingredients you want
- It’s generally less expensive to make because you can pull together whatever you have on hand or buy ingredients on sale
- Making it allows you to try different flavors and combinations, at a fraction of the price, to keep it interesting
- It’s a great way to involve even the littlest kids in making their own snacks
- When you make it in bulk, you always have some on hand for after school snacks, to throw in the wagon for sports games, or take with you on a hike or other adventure
Bringing your child to the store to help you pick out ingredients can be part of the fun. I recommend hitting up the bulk food sections of the store of your choice to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Buying this snack in the store will cost you at least $7.99/lb. However, taking just a few minutes to make your favorite gorp can get the cost down to around $5/lb (or less) and control the ingredients at the same time!
Homemade Gorp Couldn’t Be Easier to Make
Now here’s the thing: making trail mix is super simple to do!
When I stop and think about it, I really can’t believe how many people buy different trail mix varieties!
If you happen to be one of those people, trust me when I say that I truly can relate because I used to be as well. In fact, even now, if I’m sometimes really pressed for time (like when I’m getting ready to leave town on a long trip), I will still buy trail mix.
But I’ve come to really love making my own trail mix and concocting my own combinations! It’s really fun to let my kids have a voice (and a hand) in the process. They get a huge kick out of it!
I feel that I need to preface this by saying that I am completely guilty of having a huge sweet tooth. I call it “the sweet tooth that won’t quit”. I’m working on it…kind of 😉
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest (whew!)…when I make trail mixes for our family, I try to limit the sugary ingredients while still including just enough to appease everyone’s desire for some sweet and salty goodness.
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The Ideal Ratio for Trail Mix Ingredients
I would say that overall, I aim for roughly a 7-8 parts nonsweet to 1 part sweet ratio. For example: 7 cups of nuts, etc to 1 cup of M&Ms. I usually include the carbs in the same amounts as the nuts and seeds
Here are some possible ingredients to help spark your creativity. The possible combinations are endless! Mix and match. Change it up. Throw in a curveball.
You can’t go wrong!
Take a trip to Costco, Sprouts, Whole Foods or Trader Joes to give you a dozen ideas. If you need nut-free ideas for your family, those stores will help with that as well. Here are some kid-approved inclusions:
Possible Trail Mix Ingredients (mix and match for fun combos):
- These nutritional powerhouses are packed with good-for-you unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals
- Our favorites: peanuts, cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios
- These higher calorie options can be used in moderation: macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, pecans, and pine nuts
- Seeds provide many of the same beneficial qualities of nuts, including protein, iron, magnesium, and vitamins and minerals
- Look for raw, unsalted seeds
- Good for:
- people with nut allergies
- people looking to change things up!
- Our favorite examples: sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, or sesame seeds
- In moderation, dried fruit can be a great source of fiber, antioxidants, calcium, and vitamins.
- Use a handful at a time to limit the amount of sugar
- Pack a great dose of energy and boost to your low blood sugar after physical activity
- Our favorite examples: apple chips, raisins, craisins, dried blueberries, dried strawberries, dried mangoes, dried cherries, dates, dried pineapple, figs, dried apricots, banana chips, coconut flakes
- The addition of complex carbohydrates adds a boost of energy and keeps you full longer.
- Our favorites examples: Cheerios (or organic version) – you pick the flavor, Chex cereal, popcorn, pretzels, mini graham crackers (think Teddy Grahams), granola, and puffed-rice cereal
- Use sparingly, to help round out the mix
- Keep in mind when choosing your sweet add-in: if this mix will be going with you on an outside adventure and it’s hot outside, any chocolate or yogurt will melt!
- Our favorite examples: peanut butter chips, yogurt, butterscotch, carob or chocolate chips, M&Ms, mini marshmallows, yogurt-covered raisins, coconut chips, chocolate-covered nuts, and yogurt or chocolate-covered pretzels
- sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, curry, ginger, cardamom, cayenne pepper (if you like a kick of heat)
Some of Our Family’s Favorite Gorp Combos
I recommend using roughly a cup of each ingredient unless a different amount is specified. But, then again, the beauty of making your own trail mix is that you can adjust the ingredient amounts according to your preferences!
Old-fashioned (Basic) Gorp:
- plain Cheerios
- salted popcorn
Pacific Coast Trail Mix:
- yogurt chips (these looks like white chocolate chips)
- dried blueberries or strawberries
- banana chips
- chocolate chips (or dark chocolate chips)
- coconut flakes
Healthy Trail Mix
- salted peanuts
- raisins or dried cranberries
- almonds, whole or sliced
- mini chocolate chips (I prefer organic)
- roasted pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds, roasted
- 1/2 cup dried fruit of choice
Kids Favorite Recipe
- 2 cups pretzels
- cashews (or nut of choice)
- Raisins or dried cranberries
- Mini marshmallows
- 1/2 cup M&M’s or chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup Almonds
- 1/2 cup Pistachios
- 1/2 cup Pine Nuts
- 1/2 cup Walnuts
- 1/2 cup Pumpkin Seeds
- 1/2 cup Sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup Coconut Chips
- 1/2 cup Dried Blueberries
- 1/2 cup Black Currants
- 1/2 cup Dates
- 1/2 cup Raisins
- 1/2 cup Dried Strawberries
A Few Notes When Making Trail Mix From Scratch:
Storage: Store Trail Mix in an airtight container(s) such as a Mason Jar in a cool, dark spot so the nuts don’t go rancid, and the chocolate doesn’t melt.
Allergies: Please be aware that others may have allergic reactions to nuts & seeds that have only come in contact with others (like peanuts or tree nuts). Double-check before you share!
Homemade trail mix is one of the easiest recipes for kids to make. My kids delight in choosing their favorite ingredients and mixing them together.
Let us know! What are your favorite trail mix combos?
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