The Easy Formula for Perfect DIY Trail Mix

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Take pity on trail mix! So typecast, for oh so long. After all these years, it can't shake its rep as a hippie-dippy food favored by hikers and mountain bikers. But guess what? Trail mix has tons to offer everyone, including those of us who've never hiked a trail or worn padded bike shorts. Think portable, healthy, easy to portion-control... you get the picture. Plus it's fun (and kind of addictive) to dream up your own variations.

Trail mix, 2.0: what to include, ways to mix it up, and more

To start, follow a general ratio of 50 percent nuts, 30 percent dried fruit, 10 percent seeds, and 10 percent "other" — whatever flavors or extras you'd like to add. Keep in mind that this formula is merely a starting point. Making trail mix is far from an exact science!

About those nuts

Peanuts are the classic here, but really anything goes, from Brazil nuts to pistachios. Lightly toasting the nuts ahead of time adds extra flavor and crunch to your mix. Just make sure to cool them thoroughly before combining with other ingredients.

Ideas for dried fruit

Raisins make us yawn. How about apple or banana chips, dried cherries, dates or figs? Most dried fruit is plenty sweet on its own, so go for natural, unsweetened options.

Seeds or twiggy bits

Here's where things start to get interesting. Chia seeds, flax seeds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds and wheat berries are just a few ways to pack extra texture, flavor and nutrition into your mix.

The wild cards

Ok, let's call these wild cards what they are: candy. You can't go wrong with chocolate or carob chips or M&M's, but other sweeties like sweetened flaked coconut or peanut butter morsels are heavenly too. If you prefer to limit sugar, dried cereal and mini-pretzels are another creative twist. One word of caution: chocolate bits and yogurt or candy coatings will melt in the heat, turning your mixture into a messy blob that's anything but trail-friendly. So think about conditions when you pick your wild cards.

The classic trail mix

A variation of a basic GORP ("good ol' raisins and peanuts"). Eat it wearing hiking boots and a fleece jacket. Or not.

  • Almonds and peanuts
  • Cranberries and raisins
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chocolate chips

The sweet + salty mix

Great as an after school snack or a mid-day pick me up at work.

  • Peanuts
  • Raisins
  • Mini pretzels or pretzel sticks
  • M&M candies

The black forest mix

Yep. Inspired by the classic cake.

  • Toasted almonds
  • Dried cherries
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chocolate chips or disks

The blue Hawaiian mix

A taste of the tropics, none of the jet-lag.

  • Macadamia nuts
  • Dried blueberries
  • Flax seeds
  • Flaked coconut
  • White chocolate chips or chunks

The Thanksgiving mix

All that's missing is the turkey.

  • Salted pecans
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Cranberries
  • Chocolate chips (why not?)
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