What is a Trail Mix after all?
Trail mix is nothing but a combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruits meant as a snack. This on-the-go, energy boost could be sweet or savoury to taste.
Trail Mixes first became popular in the early 1900s among hikers when Horace Kepharta, an American travel writer, suggested that hikers should carry these as a 'trail snack' in one of his books. The idea was to carry something that would travel well, wouldn't get spoilt quickly and would be a good source of energy. When you think about it, this made a lot of practical sense. Not only would this be light to carry, it would have a long shelf life along with proving an energy boost that hiking would require. The concept has since caught on across the globe.
There are 5 reasons you should think of creating your very own trail mix at home:
1. For help staying away from unhealthy snacks: And this is tasty to boot, so you never feel cheated on the taste front.
2. For your taste buds: Chuck the raisins if you don't like the texture or add some toasted almonds for that extra crunch.
3. For the health benefits of Seeds: Trail Mixes always have a component of Seeds. Seeds are high in fibre and good source of Vitamin E among other nutrients.
4. For a dose of healthy fats: Enough has been researched, read and written about the virtues of healthy fats. Nuts, an integral part of every trail mix, are high in proteins and Omega-3 fatty acids as well.
But like all good things, trail mixes too should be consumed in limited quantities. Choose the right mix according to what it offers nutritionally.
The basic ingredients that go into making a mix remain the same.
The early Trail mix is known to have contained only raisins and nuts. In fact, Gorp, an acronym for 'good old raisins and peanuts' still remains a popular term with hiking enthusiasts. Nuts are a must in any trail mix. They add 'crunch' to the mix and make it more filling. The secret of a successful trail mix is that quantity of the nuts (collectively) should be more than the dried-fruits and seeds.
Nuts that are often used in a Trail mix:- Peanuts- Almonds- Walnuts
- Cashew nuts or Kaju- Hazelnuts- Pistachio
- Pine nuts- Macadamia- Pecan nuts
The second important ingredient of a good trail mix, dried fruits add a chewier texture to this snack. For a healthy balance of textures, use a little less of dried-fruits as compared to the nuts.
Dried fruits commonly used in a Trail Mix are:- Raisins- Figs- Dates- Prunes- Dried apricots- Dried cherries, blueberries, oranges, apples (avoid the sugar-coated, sweetened variety for unnecessary calories)
Generally speaking, seeds are not a part of our everyday diet and yet there are a lot of valuable nutrients they provide. So, it only makes sense to add them to our snacks and smoothies. In trail mixes too, seeds are a popular ingredient and make the serving more filling and wholesome.
Seeds commonly used in a Trail Mix are:- Pumpkin Seeds- Sunflower Seeds- Chia Seeds- Flax Seeds
Once the basic ingredients are done, you can experiment with unusual additions too.
Pieces of chocolate, granola chunks, flaked coconut or puffed quinoa make for interesting additions.
Just remember to keep the proportions right. 50% or more Nuts. 25% or more Dried Fruits. 15% or more seeds. And a little smattering of your 'extra' ingredients. That's pretty much the secret of a super trail mix. That, and the fact that the quality of the ingredients is top notch. Don't use old, off-smelling nuts and seeds. Make sure the dried fruits aren't beginning to turn colour or become soggy. Just like any other dish, fresh ingredients (and organic, if possible) are the key to making this healthy snack a success.
Here's a quick recipe to get you started:Raw Almonds - 1/2 a cup. (Toast if you like)Peanuts - 1/4 of a cup.Walnuts - 20 nos. Dried Apricots - 20 nos. (Chopped)Raisins or Sultanas - 20 nos. (If you are using large Sulatanas then chop them up and use)Pumpkin Seeds - 1 tspChia Seeds - 1-2 tsp
Make this as a basic mix or tweak it a little as per choice. Either way, avoid the 5pm binge next time by being prepared with your own healthy snack mix.