Packing plenty of water and snacks is essential to any outdoor adventure, whether you’re hiking, biking, kayaking, or just planning a picnic or camping trip. A piece of produce or something in bar form might be satisfying, but it doesn’t offer the variety of a tasty trail mix. If you’re wondering what ingredients to include, we have some inspiration for you. From nuts and seeds to fruits and sweets, here are our 20 favorite ingredients for trail mixes.
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We love almonds and just about anything made with almonds – and there are plenty of those foods these days. So if we welcome almonds into our milk, butter, cream and more, of course we welcome them into our trail mix as well. Almonds are also good for lowering bad cholesterol and raising good cholesterol and contain solid servings of fiber, protein and vitamin E.
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We love banana chips on their own, as well as bananas plain (or in a smoothie!), so we enjoy them in our trail mix, too. Bananas are high in fiber and potassium, but store-bought banana chips can also be fried in oil or loaded with added sugar. Keep ingredients under control by preparing them at home and skip the oil by cooking them instead!
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Of course cashews are a common contributor to our trail mix – they are our favorite nuts! Cashews are also tasty (especially with a little salt) and have some health benefits, as they contain healthy fats and essential vitamins and minerals, as well as 5 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber in each ounce. .
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“Dried cherries” is a bit of a misnomer because even in dried form, cherries burst with juicy tartness. They’re like fruit snacks, but with less added sugar, no artificial colors, and, you know, they’re actually fruit.
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Sure, many pieces of Chex will crumble, but the ones that stay intact are so satisfying to chew on and flavorful too. This ingredient shouldn’t be too surprising in a trail mix, as Chex has proven to be a worthy member of an ensemble that dates back to when Chex Mix was first invented in the 1950s.
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Some people like coconut, some don’t. If you’re on the old side, like us, you’ll want to add coconut to your next trail mix. Not juicy coconut chunks, of course, but thin, unsweetened flakes that mix easily with all your other ingredients.
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If you’re not a fan of raisins (we are; more on that later), you might still be craving dried cranberries. They are about the same size and consistency as a raisin, but with added acidity in addition to the sweetness. Cranberries also contain potassium, calcium and many antioxidants.
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This is a given in every trail mix we buy or make. Since we associate trail mixes with physical activity, this calorie- and nutrient-dense food, which is typically high in protein and fiber, is also an essential part of our snack mix.
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M&M’s don’t add any nutritional value to your trail mix, so use them in moderation. However, they do add a bit of sweetness to balance out the typically salty ingredients found in most trail mixes, which also helps kids get started with trail mixes! We prefer chocolate chip M&M’s because the candy shell prevents the chocolate from melting onto the other ingredients on warmer excursions.
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Honestly, we enjoy dried mango as much as fresh mango. Thus, we are always looking for an excuse to eat it. And as far as apologies go, doing a trail mix is great. The fact that mangoes are also loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants is a nice bonus.
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Peanuts are a staple in our trail mix because they contain more protein than any other typical nut – and that fuel is vital for powering our bike, paddle board, or other outdoor adventure. Generally, peanuts contain 7 grams of protein for every ounce, so throw a handful into your next mix.
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Pecans are perfectly balanced nuts: they are neither too hard nor too soft in texture, and they are just a little sweet. They also contain 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B and E, as well as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as fiber and protein. They are somewhat similar to walnuts but a bit cheaper!
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In Pineapple We Trust. So if we trust pineapple in our tacos and on our pizzas (and in both cases we do – don’t fight us), then we definitely trust it in a trail mix. In fact, we love this deliciously sweet treat! Combine the dried pineapple with the aforementioned almonds, banana chips, dried mango, and coconut flakes, and you have a nice little “tropical” trail mix.
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Like cashews, pistachios aren’t technically a nut — they’re seeds — but that doesn’t matter because, just like cashews, pistachios are great in a trail mix. Plus, pistachios contain healthy fats and about 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber per ¼ cup serving. Just be sure to remove the shells first, of course!
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Pumpkin seeds aren’t just something you throw away when making a jack-o’-lantern, they’re a delicious and nutritious food! Shelled pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch to any trail mix, and they’re packed with powerful antioxidants and nutrients like magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, zinc, copper, and vitamin E!
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When you want something sweet that isn’t candy, raisins are one of your best options. They are juicier than some other dried fruits and contain vitamin C, calcium, iron, potassium and many antioxidants.
17 out of 20
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When we crave something sweet that won’t melt quickly, but M&Ms just won’t cut it, Reese’s Pieces is the perfect upgrade. You get the taste of peanut butter without the mess of peanut butter chips or just by spooning a dollop of peanut butter into your trail mix (not recommended).
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Sunflower seeds may be tiny, but they’re powerful in both taste and benefits. These salty little seeds contain vitamin E, flavonoids and other compounds that can reduce inflammation, and they’re also a sneaky source of protein (6 grams per ¼ cup) and fiber (4 grams per ¼ cup) .
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If you like the consistency of pecans but want something a little less sweet, opt for walnuts, which are great in a trail mix, whether whole or chopped. We also appreciate the generous helping of healthy fats and antioxidants provided by these nuts.
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We hated them when we were kids, but we love them now, especially in trail mixes. Then again, we didn’t like spicy foods in our youth, and the little spice they add to a trail mix is the exact reason why they’re one of our favorite ingredients. Plus, they add a nice splash of green color if you like the trail mix aesthetic.