Whether backpacking a difficult trail or dealing with some rowdy kids at the campsite, sometimes we need a boost of energy. Trail mix has long been the fodder for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts because it provides a boost with just a few protein and calorie-rich ingredients, it packs lightly and compactly, and it’s pretty delicious (which could be the most important element). But sometimes trail mix just doesn’t cut it. Maybe you’re looking for something healthier, you want to avoid the germs from everyone reaching their grubby hands into the same bag, or you just want to try something a little different.
We took to our Pinterest account to find the best traditional trail mix alternatives. All are homemade; who needs to spend the extra money for unnatural additives or ingredients that you can throw together at home? All provide the energy boost that you need to get through whatever hike, bike, or adventure you’re on.
Although calories provide the necessary fuel for our bodies, sometimes a low-cal option is preferable for shorter hikes or for everyday snacking on a camping trip. We’ve rounded up a couple we think you’ll enjoy:
Trail Mix Carnival Explosion
by Hungry Girl
Yield: 4 Servings
3 cups popped Jolly Time Healthy Pop Caramel Apple Microwave Pop Corn or 94% fat-free kettle corn microwave popcorn
2 pouches Fruit Ripples or Nature Valley Fruit Crisps, Cinnamon Apple; slightly crushed
1 pouch Special K Snack Bites, Vanilla
1/4 cup dried apricots; chopped
2 tbsp. Sunkist Almond Accents, Butter Toffee Glazed or Honey Roasted
Break Snack Bites into small pieces. Place those, along with all other ingredients, in a sealable plastic bag or in an airtight container with a lid. Secure bag or container and shake thoroughly. Now go nuts!
Dried Fruit Trail Mix Recipe Ideas
Image Credit: http://www.backpacking-tips.com/trail-mix-recipe.html
Combine equal parts of:
- Dried Apricots
- Dried Apple Slices
- Dried Papaya Chunks or Cubes
- Dried Mango Chunks or Cubes
- If you enjoy crunchy snacks then just add:
- Dried Banana Chips
to balance out the sweetness and softness of the fruity recipe.
The exact proportions of each ingredient are not as important as the flavors and textures that you enjoy, so feel free to swap other ingredients in and out of the basic dried fruit mix recipe above. For example:
- Dried Cranberries
- Beef Jerkey
Sometimes you just don’t want to deal with the mess of a mix. There are some great store-bought energy bars, but why not make your own? Here’s one we thought looked particularly delicious.
Blueberry-Banana Peanut Butter Bars
originally from A Fork in the Trail, by Laurie Ann March (Wilderness Press, 2008)
reprint from Backpacker.com
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 cups high-energy cereal made of strong flakes, crushed
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup dried banana chips
1/3 cup white chocolate chips
At Home, break the banana chips into small pieces and set aside. Heat the honey and brown sugar in a large pot and simmer for 1 minute. (Boiling too long will make the bars brittle.) Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the peanut butter. Add the remaining ingredients and combine well.
Coat the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square pan with vegetable oil. Scoop the mixture into the pan and pack down evenly. Freeze for 30 minutes. Transfer the pan contents to a cutting board. Allow to return to room temperature and then cut into 10 bars. Wrap bars in waxed paper and store in zip-top bags. The bars will keep in the freezer for three months.
Pack your nuts, seeds, and berries into convenient packaging: bread! Logan Bread, a dense quickbread, is a traditional backpacking treat. With a namesake such as the Yukon’s Mount Logan, it would have to be!
from Section Hiker
1.5 cups of whole wheat flour
1.5 cups rye flour
1 cup quick oats
1 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup water
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup wild flower honey
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 dried cherries, chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Mix all of the grains, powdered milk, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Next, mix all of the other ingredients in a separate bowl and set aside.
Grease two 9″ x 9″ pans using Crisco. Then sprinkle extra flour onto pan bottoms and sides. This will show you if you’ve missed greasing any spots and will help with removing the bread from the pans when finished baking.
Mix the ingredients of the two bowls and mix very thoroughly.
Spoon the mixture into the two greased pans evenly.
Bake for 90 minutes at 275 degrees or until a tester comes out clean.
Let cool. Carve Logan Bread into 3″ x 3″ squares and store in plastic bags for eating on a backpacking trip or at the office.
When have you ever wanted to say “no” to a cookie? On the trail, it won’t be any different with these delicious treats:
Happy Trails Adventure Cookies
by Angela Liddon at Oh She Glows
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 10 + 10-12 mins
Yield: 13-14 cookies
1 cup whole pecans, toasted
1 cup + 1 tbsp oat flour (make your own flour in the blender using 1 cup rolled oats; use gluten-free if necessary)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp rolled oats (use gluten-free if necessary)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 scant tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp ground flax-seed
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp brown rice syrup
1/2 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
3 tbsp pepita seeds
3-4 tbsp mini chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and toast pecans for 8-10 minutes, watching closely. Remove and set aside to cool. Turn oven temp to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or grease with oil. Set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
3. In a mini processor (or by hand) process/chop the pecans into small crumbs, just smaller than the size of peas. Stir into the dry ingredients.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir well until combined. The dough will be very sticky, but not to worry. Fold in the mix-ins.
5. With lightly wet hands, grab about 2 tbsp dough and shape into a ball, packing firmly. Place on prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Repeat for the rest, wetting hands every 4 cookies or so.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes (I baked for 11.5 mins). Cool on baking sheet for at least 10 minutes or the cookies could break apart. When completely cooled, store in a glass jar or freeze for maximum freshness.
Note: 1) To make these gluten-free, using certified GF oats and check all other ingredients. 2) If you eat honey, you can probably use it as a sub for brown rice syrup. I do think the cookies need either brown rice syrup or honey for the cookies to hold together and retain that nice chewy texture. I don’t recommend subbing it for more maple syrup.
For a smaller, more shapely cookie alternative, we’re dying to try some energy bites!
No-Bake Energy Bites
from Gimme Some Oven
Image Credit: http://gimmesomeoven.com/no-bake-energy-bites/
1 cup (dry) oatmeal (I used old-fashioned oats)
2/3 cup toasted coconut flakes
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup ground flaxseed or wheat germ
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
Stir all ingredients together in a medium bowl until thoroughly mixed. Let chill in the refrigerator for half an hour. Once chilled, roll into balls of whatever size you would like. (Mine were about 1″ in diameter.) Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Yield: about 20-25 balls.
Substitution ideas can abound for just about any of these ingredients! Feel free to substitute in your favorite nut butter (almond butter, sunflower seed butter, etc.) for the peanut butter. And you could also add in some wheat germ in place of some or all of the flaxseed. I would caution, though, against substituting agave nectar for the honey, as the honey’s thickness helps hold things together.
Some other fun substitutions for the chocolate chips (or an addition to them) could include:
- chopped dried fruit (apricots, dates, raisins, etc.)
- dried berries (cranberries, cherries, etc.)
- chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts, or sunflower seeds
- other chips (butterscotch, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, M&Ms, etc.)
- other grains (different kinds of oatmeal, rice cereal, etc.)
We also want to try this other version of Tiffany Haugen’s Power Balls. She said that she was inspired by an edible Play-dough recipe! Let the fun begin!
What’s your favorite trail mix recipe? Leave us a comment with the recipe!