Despite being high in fat and calories, the right homemade trail mix can be a beneficial snack option in a healthy weight loss program. Contrary to popular belief, ingredients like raw nuts, raw seeds, and unsweetened dried fruits are not associated with weight gain. A high percentage of the fat from nuts in a healthy trail mix recipe doesn’t end up being absorbed by your body because the fiber content pushes it out as waste after digestion. That’s why the best trail mix recipe combinations are ones that will please your taste buds while helping reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness as well.
That said, grabbing a high-sodium, high-calorie pre-mixed and pre-packaged trail mix from the supermarket is no substitute for homemade mixes! They often contain nuts and seeds that are roasted in hydrogenated oils in addition to dried fruits coated in sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. These provide unhealthy calories that aren’t beneficial in any other way and therefore are not worth consuming if you can help it.
To get the lowdown on building healthy trail mixes and how to enjoy them, use the following guide to help you get started.
Step 1: Start with healthy nuts
The most important ingredient in a healthy homemade trail mix? The nuts. Raw, unsalted nuts are ideal and healthier than pre-roasted nuts that may have been coated in unhealthy oils and lots of sodium. Nuts and seeds make up the bulk of a healthy trail mix with their healthy fats, fiber, and other nutrients.
Pick up some raw cashews, walnuts, pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds from your grocery store so you have a variety of nuts on hand to get started. Flax and chia seeds are generally too small to use in a trail mix.
If you want, you can activate a raw nut or seed’s nutrients by soaking and then dehydrating them. This process also helps make nuts more easily digestible if you tend to have issues with digestion of nuts and seeds. If you’re like most people—busy and pressed for time—plain raw nuts work just fine if you have no special requirements. You can take healthy snacks another step further and look into sprouting nuts for even more health benefits. Of course, this step is optional!
Step 2: Combine with dried fruit for a sweet balance
Some good dried fruits you can start with are figs, dates, raisins, cranberries, and cherries. Make sure your dried fruit selections are sun-dried, unsulfured, and not coated in sugar. Larger dried fruits like figs and dates can be chopped down into smaller pieces so they’re more uniform in terms of sizing with your nuts, seeds, and small dried fruits.
Step 3: Add the tasty tidbits
Now here’s where you get to add in some fun goodies that elevate your trail mix from a desirable snack to what tastes like full-on indulgence. Throwing in a bit of air popped popcorn, pretzel pieces, or chopped up 75% cacao (or higher) dark chocolate, for example, can take your trail mix to another dimension without thwarting your weight loss goals.
Incorporating a scrumptious morsel here and there into your healthy trail mix is a great way to sneak in some extra savory or sweet without the guilt. Having flexibility in ingredients encourages creativity with items you may or may not already have in your pantry, too. And the best thing about it? You can take it anywhere. Put a handful in a snack bag anytime you’re on-the-go or grab a handful on your way out the door.
Step 4: Season & serve
Think of them as toppings, seasonings, or whatever you like to call them. This is the stage where a little salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, or whatever spices you desire come in and add final touches to the overall flavor of your trail mix.
The best trail mix recipes
Pecan and Chocolate Cherry Trail Mix Recipe
- 3/4 cup raw pecans
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, unsulfured dried cherries
- 1/2 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
- Sea salt to taste
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Pinch of nutmeg
Fall Delight Trail Mix Recipe
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 5 raw brazil nuts, chopped
- 2/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 2/3 cup air popped popcorn
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried figs, chopped
- 2 tablespoons vegan dark chocolate chips
- Sea salt to taste
General methods for prepping, combining, and portioning
Chop large ingredients like brazil nuts and dried figs to make everything roughly uniform in size or to make a particular flavor enhance the mix more broadly. Combine all ingredients together. Sprinkle combined trail mixes with salt at the end.
Store your trail mix in one container with a lid for up to two weeks or proactively section out into 28 ounce portions to grab and go.
To add a bit of sweet to these recipes and others, mix your seeds and nuts with a teaspoon (or less) of maple syrup (or agave nectar). Then salt, season, and toast in the oven for a few minutes before combining with your remaining ingredients.
Feel free to also swap out almonds for walnuts or peanuts for cashews. Depending on what you like and what’s available, you can transform these recipes with many varieties of nuts, seeds, and healthy snack ingredients you have lying around in the kitchen.
So what’s the catch?
Healthy trail mix recipe weight loss might not be a “thing” in its own right, but incorporating a healthy trail mix into an existing healthy lifestyle or weight loss program definitely has its benefits. Noom helps break down the complexities and overwhelming elements of healthy weight loss and debunks myths that give things like healthy fats a bad rap. We’re here to help you develop a healthy relationship with food and exercise that works for you.
Lasting weight loss that works with your specific body, lifestyle, and personal needs isn’t simply found in trail mixes, shakes, quick gimmicks, or highly restrictive diets. But it can be found at Noom, a weight loss solution that is customizable on an individual basis and provides personalized coaching. It’s not a diet, and you don’t gain the weight back because you transform psychologically and physically with every small goal you meet, leading to big, lasting wins.