Power Up Your Hike With This Homemade Snack

Trail Mix or Gorp—the Original Energy Snack

Trail Mix
Trail Mix. Nancy Nehring/E+/Getty Images

When you are on the trail or on a long walk, you should take along an energy snack with protein, carbohydrates, and a little salt to replace what you sweat away.

Trail mix or gorp (good old raisins and peanuts) is the natural answer. The nuts provide protein and salt while the raisins provide carbohydrates. Often, commercially prepared trail mix also has chocolate chips or candies.

Trail mix doesn't need any refrigeration and is food-safe for weeks.

That makes it a popular walking and hiking energy snack.

Calories in Trail Mix

Trail mix is energy-dense, meaning there are lots of calories in a smaller portion. That makes it lighter to take along to eat for the replenishment you need. But that means you need to use portion control so you don't end up eating too many calories.

On average, trail mix has 131 calories, 4 grams protein, and 8 grams fat per ounce. A cup of trail mix has 693 calories, 21 grams protein, and 44 grams fat.

Trail mix with chocolate chips has a few more calories, which come mostly from fat. On average, it has 137 calories per ounce, with 4 grams protein and 9 grams fat. A cup has 707 calories and 47 grams of fat.

While you can buy pre-packaged trail mix, it is cheaper to make your own. The ingredients are easy to find in the bulk bins at the supermarket, and you can create the mixture you enjoy the most.

Basic Trail Mix Recipe

The classic trail mix recipe calls for equal parts of nuts and various dried fruits.

Then you can jazz it up with additions, chocolate, or coconut, and with salty snacks such as pretzels or breakfast cereal. This example makes a basic 3-cup batch of trail mix. This keeps the proportions easy—a cup of each. And by cup, you don't need to get out the measuring cup; any mug will do. This isn't baking, it's just mixing equal parts.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup salted peanuts
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup M&Ms (these are preferred over chocolate chips because they won't melt in your pack or pocket.)

Mix and portion out. If you are watching your calories, you may want to weigh it out into single-serving sizes in plastic bags to take along. Then you won't be tempted to eat the whole batch at once. Basic trail mix is high in sugar and fat, which will give you quick energy as well as sustained energy.

You can adjust the proportions to taste. Maybe you only want a few M&Ms, maybe you want more. It's your mix, make it your way.

Common Additions to Trail Mix

You don't have to stop at good-old-raisins-and-peanuts, with or without chocolate chips or candies. Here is where it is fun to go browsing the bulk bins at the grocery store. They are filled with different nuts, dried fruit, candy, and salty snacks you can add. The overall cost is likely to be less than pre-packaged mixes as well.

  • Dried fruit: raisins, dried apricots, date nuggets, banana chips, apple chips, dried papaya, dried cranberries, dried cherries. You can substitute these for the raisins in the basic recipe, or add them as a separate ingredient.
  • Nuts and seeds: peanuts, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and more. Any nut will do.
  • Chocolate: M&Ms, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, carob chips, dried coconut, Reese's Pieces.
  • Salty Stuff: Pretzels, sesame sticks, oriental rice crackers, salty "party mix" cereal.
  • Cereals: Any breakfast cereal or granola.

Trail Mix for Special Diets

Trail mix is meant to be calorie-dense, so it needs to be strictly portion-controlled if you are on a reduced calorie diet. If you are on a low-carb diet, you need to consider ways to make low carb trail mix. Unsweetened coconut can be a better choice over dried fruit, or find a dried fruit that has no added sugar and use less of it in proportion to nuts and seeds.

If you are allergic to nuts, you will need a nut-free trail mix, substituting safer sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for the nuts. While traditional gorp is gluten-free, you will need to scrutinize any prepared trail mix to ensure it is safe on a gluten-free diet and doesn't include granola, pretzels, or ingredients that may be cross-contaminated in processing.

Sources:

Basic Report: 19059, Snacks, trail mix, regular. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6097.

Basic Report: 19062, Snacks, trail mix, regular, with chocolate chips, salted nuts and seeds. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6099.

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