While you're frying up some eggs and bacon, we're cooking up something else: a way to celebrate today's food holiday.
I am a trail mix junkie. I love the stuff. I used to buy those big bags of pre-portioned bags and live off them. In my mind, I was being really healthy. Then I realized I was mostly eating the chocolate peanut butter cups and chocolate candies. My relationship with trail mixed moved from "serious" to "it’s complicated" to non-existent.
Then, one day I learned that eating crunchy foods during the day can help keep your brain alert and that the protein in nuts defends against the dreaded afternoon slump. My mind reached back to my trail mix days and I thought, there must be something I can do.
After a few failed attempts, I finally came up with a trail mix recipe I can commit to. Because these things are personal (most good relationships are), here are some tips to solidify your own mix appreciation.
– Once you’ve found a nut combo you dig, buy in bulk. Nuts can be expensive; buying in bulk can help offset that cost. Also, buy raw nuts if you can and roast them yourself. If you don’t want to use all the nuts for your trail mix, store the leftovers in zip top bags in the freezer. Nuts have lots of oils in them which can spoil.
– Trail mix doesn’t have to just be sweet. My favorite version is mostly savory - it’s got lots of rosemary and spices in it. I sometimes add a bit of honey to balance it out. Nuts require a lot more seasoning than you expect, so don’t skimp.
– If you’re roasting your own nuts, watch them so they don’t burn (the oils burn quickly), and turn them over multiple times. I am pretty notorious for burning mine so I usually pull them out and taste test along the way. Also, different nuts need different roasting times. Almonds seem to take the longest, then cashews, then pecans. Typically, harder nuts take longer.
– Aside from the standard candies and dried fruits that are often found in trail mix, if you’re looking for a healthier option consider dark chocolate or banana chips. If you made such a big batch of trail mix that it’s likely to be hanging around for a while, you might want to consider keeping the dried fruit component separate. The fruit will pick up the flavor of the nuts, and there’s a strong chance it’ll go bad before the nuts do.
What’s in your favorite mix?
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