We’ve come a long way from standard GORP (good old raisins and peanuts), my friends. In the age of superfoods, why not elevate your basic trail mix recipe game to include all the very best superfoods?
If your idea of trail mix still contains brightly colored chocolate candy bits, overly salted nuts, and other ingredients coated in preservatives, unnecessary sugars, and refined oils, it’s time to DIY your trail mix recipe. When you’re hitting the trails, pavement, waves, yoga mat, dance floor, or anywhere else you need to fuel your body, this superfood trail mix recipe should be your new go-to. And with this recipe, you’ll feel so good you’ll need to hit that mountaintop so you can sing its praises.
Build a Healthier Trail Mix Recipe
A standard trail mix recipe should contain three things: protein, carbohydrates, and fat in the form of whole, unprocessed ingredients. These macronutrients aid in fueling and replenishing your body during a particularly challenging activity (hiking, biking, climbing, etc). Even better, these macro ingredients are easy to stock up on from your local health food store’s bulk sections. And, they are highly portable in backpacks and gym bags too.
Nuts and Seeds
Both nuts and seeds are filled with healthy monounsaturated fats that help to boost heart and brain health, aid in weight loss, reduce inflammation in the body, and support healthy skin and hair.
From nut to seed the nutrients vary, but all tend to contain free radical scavenging antioxidants, digestive friendly fiber, protein, vitamin E, iron, magnesium, and folate. Even better, eating nuts and seeds is thought to aid in the reduction of LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) thanks to their plant sterols, also called phytosterols. These plant powers interfere with cholesterol absorption in the GI tract, which may help to lower blood cholesterol within the body.
The best nuts and seeds to add to your trail mix recipe include unsalted and unroasted (or raw) almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Dried fruits provide a quick, energy-dense boost of natural sugars all within a small package; and they are most certainly a delicious and simple way to bring sweet flavor to your homemade trail mix recipe.
Just because it’s a fruit, however, does not mean you can go overboard on your raisin obsession. When a fruit is dried, most of its water is extracted which bumps up its (natural) sugar content. This sugar, fructose, has been linked to negative health implications such as type-2 diabetes, weight gain, and heart disease. Always be mindful of the amount of dried fruit you chow down on, as its sugar and carbohydrate content is high.
Of course, dried fruit is awesome for your body – in portioned amounts. Dried fruit is packed with fiber, which is beneficial for total cholesterol, digestive health, and nutrient absorption. The polyphenol antioxidant content of dried fruit is also high, which is associated with improved blood flow, better digestive health, decreased oxidative damage, and reduced risk of several diseases.
When choosing dried fruits, the ingredient label should strictly read the fruit’s name — and nothing else. Delicious dried fruits for your DIY trail mix include raisins, cranberries, blueberries, tart cherries, chopped unsulfured apricots, chopped dates, and chopped figs.
It’s best to choose nuts and fruits that haven’t been processed with additional oils or sugars, and stay organic to avoid pesticide residue.
Superfoods and Other Goodies
Along with providing considerable vitamins and minerals, foods we refer to as “superfoods” can not only add super nutrients, but also add flavors and textures to your trail mix and totally elevate your GORP game.
Some of my favorite superfood trail mix ingredients include warming spices like cinnamon and cardamom, a pinch of good quality sea salt for electrolyte balance, vegan dark chocolate chips, cacao nibs, goji berries, unsweetened coconut flakes, mulberries, and golden berries.
Remember, portion control is key when enjoying your superfood trail mix recipe. One serving of trail mix is a large handful of the goods, or about 1/3 cup. Going on a long hike or doing something crazy adventurous and energy depleting? Bring along 2-3 servings to fuel your active bod. Now, go get em’ tiger – and remember, it’s always nice to share, so bring some extra trail mix for everyone.
Superfood Trail Mix Recipe
Makes 4 cups
½ cup almonds
¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3 Tbsp dark chocolate chips or raw cacao nibs
¼ cup goji berries
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cardamom
Dash of pink Himalayan sea salt
Simply combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to combine.
Divide trail mix into smaller jars, or store in one large jar in the refrigerator.
Trail mix will keep for 2-3 months. Enjoy!
Allergies. Feel free to swap any nut or seed due to allergies.
Hold the sugar, please. Looking for something less sweet? Omit the dark chocolate chips and halve the dried fruit.
Go Wild and customize your superfood trail mix to your own liking – we can’t wait to see what you create!
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Photos by Kate Gavlick