Howdy and welcome to Flawed yet Functional! With my very atypical diet, many people wonder what I feed my kids. Put simply, they eat what I eat with a few exceptions. Snack time is one area they have a bit more freedom than my diet allows. Today I’d like to share a snack that never grows old (at least not with my kids!): easy homemade trail-mix.
Don’t Overthink Snack Time
When my kids were young and not communicating verbally with me, I used to keep a variety of snacks on hand: Cheerios, yogurt puffs, fruit, granola bars, nuts, etc. The effort to keep variety often lead me to select processed foods because they were more shelf stable and easier than homemade. Now, it is possible that they would have tired of the same snack everyday at that age, but I’ve found now that they are older (3 and 5 years old), they will eat trail-mix day in and day out with no complaints. The way we make trail-mix is easy and shelf-stable without preservatives!
Since trail-mix is a mix after all, it is easy to introduce variety by switching up the ingredients from time to time. Depending on the week, the dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate might be different. For example, we run out of cashews by the end of our shopping period on the regular. So when I buy more, it’s like Christmas and the snack is new again!
Simple Is Best
I mentioned to a friend recently that trail-mix was our go-to snack, and she asked me to share the recipe. Befuddled, I said, “You don’t need a recipe. Just dump nuts, dried fruit, seeds, or chocolate in a bowl and call it trail-mix!”
The idea is super easy, mix and match as you and your family like. Here are our go-to’s.
Nuts are the whole reason for trail-mix! Go heavy on the nuts, easy on the sweets. I try to put twice the amount of nuts as sweets as I see the sweet items as only a way to make the nuts go down easier.
Use raw nuts as much as possible. There are way more nutrients in raw nuts, and roasted nuts tend to have a bunch of additives. Keep it plain. Keep it simple.
Our favorite nuts are:
The first part of the “sweets” (so named by my kids) in the trail-mix is dried fruit. Sugar content is very high in dried fruit, so don’t go overboard here. Be very choosy when buying dried fruit, don’t buy ones with added sugar. There is enough sugar in fruit already!
It might be difficult to find some of these without sugar, but keep looking, they’re out there! Aldi (raisins, figs, dates) and Costco (raisins, dates, apricots, mangos) are my primary spots to pick up un-sugared dried fruit.
The regulars we keep on hand are:
- Raisins – My kids are particularly fond of golden raisins.
Chop up the larger fruit as needed in the mix. However, if I’m in a rush to get out the door, I just put the apricot or mango pieces in whole. The kids can learn to take a bite!
What is trail-mix without chocolate? Chocolate in moderation is actually good for you. It is full of antioxidants. However, you need to eat fairly dark chocolate, not the milk variety.
Due to the high prevalence of dairy in chocolate, the chocolate options for us are very slim. I buy only the two options below. I’ve been burned by other chocolates that are manufactured in the same facility or on the same equipment as dairy varieties. If you have a dairy sensitivity, I would caution you to avoid those as well.
The sky’s the limit with trail-mix! Don’t limit yourself to just nuts, fruit, and chocolate (although that is primarily what we do!). Try these ideas or any other small things you enjoy eating!
- Unsweetened coconut flakes
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Other nuts – hazelnuts, macadamia, chestnuts
- Freeze dried fruit – eaten immediately, will get soft if stored with the mix
- Other dried unsweetened fruit – pineapple, papaya, apples, etc.
Store in Same Place
Finally, store all the ingredients for easy, homemade trail-mix in the same location for quick assembly. I keep one shelf in the kitchen dedicated to trail-mix ingredients. When it’s time to whip up a snack for a road trip, I stand under that shelf and quickly dump each ingredient into a cup for each member of the family.
If you are embarking on a journey of eating healthier food, try replacing your usual packaged snack with this easy, homemade trail-mix. Begin with more sweets and gradually back off if you aren’t used to eating raw nuts. You’ll quickly find yourself enjoying nuts!
What are your go-to, healthy snacks for your kids? Do you rotate through different options? Or are your kids like mine and will eat the same thing day in and day out?
Easy Homemade Trail-Mix
On-the-go, kid-friendly snacks don’t have to be complicated! Toss raw nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate in a bowl and call it trail-mix!
- 1 oz. raw almonds
- 1/2 oz. raw pecans
- 1 oz. roasted, unsalted cashews
- 1.5 oz. dried raisins no added sugar
- 1 Tbsp. dairy-free chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and enjoy! Substitute other ingredients freely and to your liking!