Snacks are often thought to be unhealthy but I say it’s not entirely true. You need to understand not only children, but adults also need snacks because there are important for energy and nutrients. Snacks can provide the energy you need throughout the day plus the nutrients you may lack. Having said this, it does not mean all snacks are good for you. Not potato chips or any baked chip, pizzas, pastries, cookies and cakes. Big NO-NO. The good news is, healthy snacking is possible with trail mix. And exactly what is trail mix? Read on and you’ll find how easy it is to make your own trail mix that is your healthy snack. Eat them anytime, anywhere.
Why Is It Called Trail Mix
Trail mix was named so because it is a type of food hikers and campers bring along during their trips. It is easy to store, carry along and nutritious.
This high-energy snack consists of nuts, seeds, dried fruits and chocolates too. Hikers often refer to trail mix as gorp which stands for good old raisins and peanuts.
Trail mix’s popularity surged in the 20th century when Horace Kephart, an outdoorsman, recommended it in his popular camping guide.
But then, now, the majority of those who consume trail mix are not campers or hikers but people like you and me. Basically, those who seek healthy snacks.
Trail mix is known by other names depending on which country.
- New Zealand and certain parts of Australia – scroggin or schmogle
- Germany, Poland, Hungary and several European countries – student food or student snack
What is Trial Mix Good For
Trail mix may be a convenient and nutritious snack but surely you like to know how healthy trail mix is and in what ways it benefits you. On the other hand, you need to understand trail mix may be bad for you.
The Good. Trail mix is mainly made up of nuts and seeds. The common ones are walnuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Most nuts and seeds have similar nutritional profiles. Let’s look at a few substantial nutrients and how your body benefits from them.
Nuts are a good source of plant-based protein. Thus, consuming them can help you meet your needs for protein, especially if you’re on a plant-based diet.
Protein is necessary for building bones and muscles. On top of that, protein can increase your feeling of fullness and keep you energized.
2. Healthy Fats
Most of the fats found in nuts are monounsaturated fat and, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which are polyunsaturated fats.
These fats help improve cholesterol levels, reduce your risk of heart disease and may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes (1).
Fibre provides various health benefits and nuts give you lots of them.
Relieve Constipation. Fibre increases the size and weight of the stool and softens it, making it easier to pass. As a result, reducing your chance of constipation.
Healthy Gut. Even though your body cannot digest or absorb fibre, the bacteria in your colon happily do so. These are good bacteria that are important for your gut health. A healthy gut microbiome improves your overall well being.
Healthy Weight. Naturally, high-fibre foods are more filling than low-fibre foods thus you’ll eat less and feel fuller longer.
Reduce Cholesterol. The soluble fibre in nuts and seeds can help lower cholesterol levels. It mainly affects and lowers your LDL “bad” cholesterol.
Control Blood Sugar. Soluble fibre can slow the absorption of sugar and help improves blood sugar levels.
Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are needed to combat oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. When the level of free radicals become too high in your body, they cause harm. Usually linked to diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
How Bad is Trail Mix For you
While the main component of a trail mix is healthy nuts, dried fruits in the mix may not be as healthy.
Dried fruits are high in sugar and calories. Consumed excessively can harm your health. But dried fruits are not all bad as they can boost your nutrients and fibre intake. Just be mindful to eat in a small amount.
Nevertheless, the real harm stems from the fact that most store-bought prepacked trail mixes are loaded with salty nuts and dried fruits such as banana chips which may be fried instead of dehydrated.
Not forgetting the chocolates. Worst are the preservatives, processed sugar and colouring.
How to Build a Healthy Trail Mix
In order to have a truly healthy trail mix that’s fulfilling at the same time, build your own.
Here are some common ingredients and you can easily buy them from your local hypermarkets or health stores.
Component #1 Nuts. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, peanuts and pistachios. Better buy raw nuts and not those salted ones. You can opt for lightly roasted nuts but ensure they’re not salted or candied.
Component #2 Seeds. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and flax seeds.
Component #3 Dried fruits. Dried cranberries, apricots, raisins and dates or any dehydrated fruits.
Component #4 Chocolates. Dark chocolate chips rather than milk or white chocolates because dark chocolates contain less sugar. You can do away with chocolates but they do give you the feel-good factor.
Combine everything together and you’ll have your healthy trail mix snacks.
Is It Cheaper to Make Your Own Trail Mix or to Buy It
So you ask – isn’t it cheaper to make your own? Not necessarily so.
Trail mixes can be as cheap or as expensive depending on how you build them. Should you really want to find out which is cheaper, you’ll need to compare apple to apple.
This means separating each component of your store-bought trail mix and weighing them. And then, you’ll have to buy those ingredients to find out the costs. This leads to the next point.
Do you have easy access to bulk or loose purchase? Some stores have a minimum amount to purchase and because you’re not actually buying in bulk, just in loose form, there aren’t a significant amount of savings. For these reasons, you may end up paying more and be left with leftovers especially the dried fruits.
While nuts and dried fruits can keep pretty well in the fridge, you’ll be surprised to find a small bag of them at the deep corner a year or two later. This happens to me all the time. My bad.
Anyway, the money spent may not be the main issue although relatively important. The real deal is the quality of the ingredients and their healthiness.
Store-bought prepacked trail mixes have a long expiry date and what does this tell you? Some sort of preservatives may be added. This can be avoided when you make your own trail mix.
On top of that, you get to choose your favourite ingredients for making yours. With prepacked, you may not like certain nuts or seeds in them. Although there are large varieties in the market, you’ll need to spend some time looking at them all to find your preferred one.
Is it cheaper to make your own trail mix or to buy depends on the ingredients you’re going for. For example, pecans are definitely more expensive than walnuts. So are pistachios.
If you have easy access to bulk/loose ingredients stores, that’ll be great but be mindful of the amount you’re buying. The more you buy, the more savings you enjoy but remember to use them all.
Also, the prices may differ every now and then, and from store to store so you’ll have to check them out.
Hmm, isn’t it more convenient to buy prepacked? Tell us what say you in the comments sections below. We love to know.
Above all, quality is as important if not more, than the savings.
In a Nutshell
Trail mix is a generic term for a dried mix snack meant to be taken on a hiking trip. It is a combination of nuts, seeds, dried fruits and chocolates that give hikers energy and nutrients during their excursions. Not only that, trail mix is lightweight thus easy to carry along.
Nowadays, it is very common to see people, not hikers, munch on trail mix. It is regarded as a healthy snack but exactly how healthy trail mix is, depends on the ingredients.
Nuts and seeds are definitely healthy because they’re packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, fibre and other nutrients. While dried fruits are nutritious, you need to be cautious not overeating as the sugar content is high. As with any snacks, portion control is important.
If you intend to make your own trail mix, the combination of nuts, seeds and dried fruits is best at the ratio 2:1:1. Where’re the chocolates? I prefer chocolates to be optional as there’re not really necessary. What? You want the feel-good factor – use dark chocolate and combine it with the dried fruits ratio.
Now that you know what trail mix is and how healthy it is, would you choose trail mix for a snack? Or would you rather choose our local Malaysian snacks or tea-time kuih-muih? Give us your answer below.
Hey, I love our kuih-muih. If healthiness is your concern, trail mixes are the clear winner. With the trail mix, healthy snacking is possible. Having said so, you don’t need to give up our local delicacies but add trail mix to your everyday snacking delights. Granola is another good option. Read more here.
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Learn more: from me Nuttylog
- Healthy overnight oats
- What is pumpkin seeds good for
- Almonds’ health benefits
- Difference between granola and muesli
Now, Let’s Get Started:
For US Shoppers, Shop on Amazon => plenty of choices but choose carefully
Here are a few choices you may consider buying.
This high energy trail mix is the perfect snack to keep your body going all day.
If you must have chocolate, try this dark chocolate covered raisin, almonds and peanuts.
A heart-healthy trail mix, snack with a purpose.
Happy shopping and thanks for reading.
Me YourHealthy Corner – Choose Healthy Bites
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Medical Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional, and this post should not be taken as medical advice. Please do your own research. The material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.