The Ultimate Guide to Trail Mix! Make a week of healthy snacks in no time with these yummy trail mix ideas. Try one of our 6 trail mix flavors or create your own! (Gluten-free, vegan, paleo, and Whole30 options)
Are you someone who loves the comfort of familiar meals or someone who likes a lot of variety? (Or both!?)
I tend to rotate through a handful of similar breakfasts and lunches, but I get bored FAST with dinner if we eat the same thing too often. I’ve found that I get that way about snacks, too. For some reason, it’s REALLY easy for me to get into a snacking rut!
One of our favorite ways to mix things up is a “build-your-own trail mix bar.” It’s quick, it’s easy, and (since everyone builds their own) everyone’s happy. This is healthy snacking made easy!
TIPS FOR THE BEST TRAIL MIX
I USE THREE CATEGORIES. I set a big variety of things on the counter every week or two, and we make a few batches of our own customized trail mix blends. I have three categories–1) Nuts and Seeds, 2) Dried or Freeze-Dried Fruit, and 3) Something Fun.
EVERYBODY CHOOSE 3-4. When we’re making our trail mix, I’ll say, “okay, everyone choose 3-4 things.” That’s usually enough guidance for Milo and Sophie at these ages, since they can pick at least one item from each category. (That way, they don’t end up making a “trail mix” of just chocolate chips–ha!). I love that we all end up with something we’re happy with.
ENCOURAGE TRYING SOMETHING NEW. Making homemade trail mix is a great way to get your kids to try a variety of foods, and is a great way to keep from getting bored. Even if they only nibble a taste of a new nut, seed, or fruit, it’s a great place to start!
BAG IT FOR EASY SNACKS. I love these reusable bags, which are perfect for storing our trail mix blends. The bags make it easy to grab a bag for a park, pool, or playdate, or to tuck into my bag for travel snacks. (Plus, the bags are dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning them a breeze!)
OUR FAVORITES FOR TRAIL MIX:
1. NUTS AND SEEDS
Nuts and seeds are the foundation of pretty much all my trail mix flavors. This yummy bit of crunch lends healthy fats and a bit of plant-based protein, both of which are great for keeping you full and satisfied longer and keeping your blood sugar more stable.
We often go for raw, sprouted, or dry-roasted nuts and seeds. I sometimes go for salted ones, and sometimes don’t–whatever sounds good!
The options are basically endless, but some of our favorites nuts and seeds for trail mix are:
- Almonds – Sliced, slivered, whole, roasted, salted, etc.
- Brazil Nuts
- Cashews – I love the lightly salted ones. So nice with sweet flavors!
- Hazelnuts – I find these for the best price at Costco or Trader Joe’s
- Macadamia Nuts – (Same!)
- Peanuts – I like the lightly salted ones
- Pepitas/Pumpkin Seeds – I really like these sprouted ones from GoRaw)
- Sunflower Seeds – Again, I love sprouted ones. (Sprouted nuts/seeds are easier to digest)
2. DRIED FRUIT OR FREEZE DRIED FRUIT
Honestly, this is my favorite part of creating variety. There are so many more dried fruits out there than raisins! Try experimenting a little! You can get a great shot of potassium and fiber and add a little natural sweetness to your mix.
I also love freeze-dried fruits. They’re generally unsweetened and have a nice, intensely fruity flavor. They taste a lot more bright and fresh than dried fruit tends too.
I like to look for unsweetened dried fruits most (not all) of the time, but use whatever fits the budget or what works for you! Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Apple Chips or Cinnamon Apple Chips
- Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
- Dried Cherries (we especially love tart cherries)
- Dried Cranberries
- Dried Mangos (These are unsweetened)
- Dried Apricots
- Dried Peaches or Nectarines
- Dried Pears
- Plums or Prunes (Seriously–They’re surprisingly tangy are great with nuts and chocolate.)
- Dried Pineapple
- Dried Blueberries
- Freeze Dried Strawberries, Raspberries, or Blueberries
- Freeze Dried Pineapple, Mango, or Peach Slices
3. SOMETHING FUN
Something fun for your trail mix helps keep things interesting. Something sweet, salty, or crunchy helps balance out the nuts and seeds and tie everything together.
I’ve found that a little bit of sweet goes a long way in getting my kids to try something new. It’s kind of the “ranch dip for your veggies” approach. I don’t stress about it if every single ingredient isn’t nutritionally perfect.
A FEW OF OUR FAVORITES:
- Banana chips (Sprouts and Target sell unsweetened ones!)
- Toasted Coconut (we like the big shavings)
- Candied Ginger or Citrus Peel
- Plaintain Chips
- (Gluten Free) Pretzels
- Dry Cereal
- Mini Marshmallows
- Allergy Friendly Chocolate Chips
- Chopped Chocolate Bar
- Chocolate or Yogurt Covered Raisins
- Chocolate Covered Almonds
- Candy Coated Chocolate Candies (like M&Ms or dairy free ones like these or these)
6 OF OUR FAVORITE TRAIL MIX FLAVORS:
- SALTY SWEET – Lightly salted cashews + Chex cereal + diced dried apricots (also yummy with white chocolate chips!)
- GORP (Good Old Raisins & Peanuts) – Raisins + lightly salted peanuts + allergy friendly chocolate chips + candy coated chocolates (like M&Ms or dairy free ones like these or these.)
- ROCKY ROAD – Pecans or walnuts + chocolate chunks + mini marshmallows + diced dates (they give a caramel-y flavor!)
- RASPBERRY CHOCOLATE – Freeze dried raspberries (or strawberries) + pepitas + pistachios + allergy friendly chocolate chips
- CHOCOLATE CHERRY – Hazelnuts + dried cherries + chocolate covered raisins
- TROPICAL – Macadamia Nuts + banana chips (I like unsweetened) + dried mango or pineapple + coconut chips (I like unsweetened)
Fully updated July 2019. Originally posted January 2015