Monday, April 22, 2013

Homemade Trail Mix

I have an unofficial motto in the kitchen that stems from my childhood and that I try my best to stick with--Don't Buy Anything You Can Make Yourself. This isn't a rigid rule, and I allow myself leeway on plenty of things. Things like tomato sauce, or orange marmalade, or pickles, or pasta noodles. I could make each of these myself, and once in a while I may, but I've found that high quality versions of each of these are not hard to find in stores, and they're usually not too pricey or processed, so I have no problem purchasing them.

But for so many foods, quality and taste and nutrition are all sacrificed when they are store-bought. Time may be saved, but money probably isn't. And while it's typically more convenient to buy, it's usually more fun, healthy, and tasty to make. These are the kinds of trade-offs I like to consider.

Some of the foods I always make, never buy, are basil pesto, granola, salad dressing, almost any dessert (I even made Oreos once), and--the subject of today's post--trail mix. This trail mix is so simple and basic that I don't know if I can even claim to have "made" it--I just combined four delicious ingredients in a bowl. But it's worth sharing precisely because of the simplicity. Sure, there are a million varieties of trail mix available in stores, but when it's so easy, so delicious, so healthful to make your own, why buy?

I started making this trail mix in grad school, when my days started at 6 am and ended at 8 pm, and I needed fuel to keep me going all day. This is a little bit more "grown up" than the traditional trail mix of M&Ms, peanuts, and raisins, and much better for you. 

Raw Almonds
Roasted and Salted Pumpkin Seeds (also called Pepitas)
Dried cranberries or cherries (cherries are especially decadent)
Semi-sweet chocolate chunks

The raw almonds and the salty pumpkin seeds are full of crunch and a good amount of healthy fats. The dried fruit is tangy and chewy, and the chocolate chunks provide a not-too-sweet bit of sugariness. It's also beautiful and colorful, isn't it? I love the pops of green and red, and the chocolate chunks look so rustic. It would make for a lovely gift, too.

What do you love to make homemade?


  1. True confession for the first time ever I bought a jar of pesto at Costco and it wasn't half bad. But, orange marmalade, nothing quite like homemade if you can find the right type of orange.

  2. Yum, that looks delicious! I was running late to work this morning and forgot to eat breakfast (SAD!) so your trail mix is looking exceptionally wonderful to me at the moment. :)

    I always make my own beans. It sounds funny, but beans from a can.. yuck! When I lived on my own, I'd make a whole crockpot of beans (black beans, kidney beans, great northern beans, pinto beans, etc.) and then try to think of dishes that I could put them in throughout the week.

  3. Will you teach me how to make orange marmalade?! :)

  4. Yum! I love beans too. I use both canned and dried and I agree that dried beans from scratch are sooo tasty!

  5. I have the same motto in our kitchen. And this trail mix looks just like the kind I love to make! Being from northern Michigan, we love dried cherries in just about anything! Seriously. Take the chocolate out (or don't), add some red onion, blue cheese and spinach leaves and you'd have yourself a great salad. Drizzle a little balsamic... voila!

  6. I'll try to dig out the recipe. I have always enjoyed making jams, jellies, and marmalades. Not at tedious as traditional canning and so satisfying, especially come wintertime.


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