How to Make Your Own Trail Mix for a Healthy Work Time Snack

Health Alliance Plan
May 31, 2018 - 1:30 pm
Trail Mix

(Image Credit: Dreamstime)


Trail mix is cheap and easy to make. Nobody really needs to pay the outrageous prices charged by grocery stores for the little bags of so-called trail mix sold in the check-out lanes and near the cash register. The price-per-pound of those commercial mixes is often higher than what people pay for prime sirloin. Here is a simple guide on how to make your own trail mix for a healthy work time snack.


What is trail mix?

Originally, trail mix was just that — an inexpensive and healthy mix of non-perishable finger foods that hikers and hunters could nibble on while they were “on the trail.” Soldiers and woodsmen have been surviving on one form of trail mix or another since ancient times, when they carried a mix of dried food in their pouches to munch on the march or on the hunt.


Healthy trail mix good for a burst at work or in the woods

The best type of trail mix for those on the go is a healthy one, which means it should be high in fats and sugars. These provide the fuel that keeps a body going, and if it has a little salt and protein in it, all the better. The key here however, is to keep a healthy balance that does not produce a sugar high or more calories than you can burn off in doing the task you made the trail mix for in the first place.


The basics of a healthy trail mix recipe

A basic trail mix recipe is simple enough and can usually be put together from ingredients that are in most people's kitchens and pantries. Some people dry their own fruit with a fruit drier, but you can also buy the dried fruits of your choice in the market.

It is a mix of finger foods that contain these basic building blocks:

Fats: Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are high in fat. That is why birds eat them. It is a fat that is not bad for the body. This is the type of fat that does not produce body fat unless excessive amounts are consumed, which is fairly difficult to do. The best kind of nuts are those that are plain or dry  roasted, not the kind that are flavored or heavily salted or cooked in hydrogenated oil. Peanuts, walnuts, cashews and almonds are the nutty foundation of a healthy trail mix.

Sugar: The good kind, from dried fruit

Trail mix can include sugar, but not the sugar found in candy. Dried fruits have just the right kind of sugar, which is slowly and steadily digested, like a timed-release tablet. Raisins, dried apricots and any other dried fruit that is not sticky, not coated in sugar and preferably sun-dried are excellent additions.

Seeds: The oft-overlooked nutritional catalyst

In moderation in the right mix, seeds are golden and very high in nutritional value. They have a lot of protein the body needs to keep on going, and are also packed with minerals, especially iron, magnesium and vitamins.

Smile food: The treat that keeps you dipping for more

Trail mix is no good if nobody wants to eat it. Some of the best smile foods to add are little bits of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in all sorts of things that are good for you. Popcorn is another good treat to add, although not buttered and preferably air popped with just a little bit of salt to taste. Pretzels are also good, as are peanut butter chips. Granola or grain-based breakfast cereal, such as those little round Cheerios and square Chex, also goes well in moderation as a smile food.


Sample recipe for a day at work

Here is just one sample recipe for a balanced trail mix.


  • One cup of seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, or a mix are especially good).
  • One cup of nuts (a mix of almonds, cashews, peanuts, pecans and walnuts works best).
  • One cup of dried fruit (dried apple chips, dried apricots, dried bananas, raisins, dried cranberries — any combination to taste will do, but variety is the key).
  • One cup of  smile foods (equal parts dark chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, popcorn, little pretzels or bits of pretzels broken up)


Mix it all together, and divide it up into two, three or even four snack bags. Use each one as you might need it for a different time of the day, which prevents from just gobbling it all down in one go. That would just defeat the whole purpose of trail mix.


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