In 2019, a lot of the running world relies on nutrition packs for their long runs. Lately, there has been a trend of people deciding to go a more natural route. With single serving nut butter varieties, there are great alternatives to processed nutrition packs. Then after spending time with some trail runners, we also remembered the thing we loved most when camping as a kid can also be also super helpful in providing calories, salt, and sugar – trail mix!
Here’s the thing – packaged trail mixes on the whole kinda stink. While the majority of the flavors in the bag are tasty, there’s always that one item that we pick around until the entire bottom is filled with the least enjoyable flavor, and that’s basically a waste of money (unless one of your friends REALLY loves wasabi peas or something.) In order to circumvent that, we took a little trip to the bulk section of our local grocery store and put together a list of the best trail mix components for you to mix and match to make the flavor combination that’s tastiest and most nutritious for your exercise undertakings. Simply mix and match until you’re satisfied, throw them in a reusable snack bag, zip it up in your SPIbelt, and get out there!
Set A Base
Seeds and nuts have been a staple of human diet for quite a while now. They’re super good for you, tasty, and if stored properly, don’t tend to spoil quickly. They’re the perfect trail mix base!
Walnuts – Anti-inflammatory Omega 3’s will aid in the inevitable soreness and inflammation.
Almonds – These protein packed morsels also contain potassium, magnesium, and a little calcium to keep your bones healthy.
Cashews – Super tasty and jam-packed full of magnesium, which aids in digestion and helps fight high blood pressure, soreness, and muscle spasms.
Pecans – So. Many. Antioxidants. Eat pecans, yo! They’re also extra tasty when toasted, but keep an eye on them; they tend to burn pretty easy.
Brazil Nuts – Not the cheapest treat but with proteins, fats, carbs, selenium – for fighting cell damage from exertion – and so much more, they’re definitely worth it!
Macadamia Nuts – Tastier than they are healthy, macadamia nuts do contain some B vitamins to help carbs turn to energy.
Pistachios – They’re the bananas of the nut world with all of the potassium they contain!
Hazelnuts – Chock full of vitamin B, these little nuts can aid in lowering the risk of depression and heart disease.
Peanuts – A runner’s favorite! Peanuts contain plenty of protein, but they also have been shown to prevent gallstones and can lower the risk of heart disease.
Pumpkin Seeds – With a 1-2 punch of Magnesium and Zinc, pumpkin seeds are a great addition to any trail mix providing great recovery aid during hard exercise. (We prefer ours covered in chocolate, just sayin’.)
Sunflower Seeds – Baseball players munch on sunflower seeds for both a time-passing tradition as well as the intake of polyunsaturated fats and salt for energy, so why shouldn’t runners? Add some shelled sunflower seeds in your mix for an added boost of good calories.
Add A Little Fun
Now that the selection of nuts has been decided, it’s time to add some extra bits and pieces to bring that trail mix together. Here are a few examples of unique and nutritious add-ins:
Raisins – Whether you love them or hate them, raisins are full of fiber, iron, calcium, and antioxidants. Not the biggest fan? Grab some yogurt covered raisins and convince yourself it’s just chewy chocolate.
Goji – These may as well be called “vitamin berries”! Goji berries contain vitamin C, vitamin A, zinc, fiber, and a ton of antioxidants. Check with your doctor if you’re taking medications; they could interact with the goji berries.
Dates – Dates are AMAZING! They’re full of antioxidants and minerals, plus they’re super delicious.
Sour Cherries – Add a pop of tartness to your trail mix, and take in a large number of vitamins and minerals for decreased muscle soreness and might actually help you sleep better.
Apricots – Apricots are full of potassium which can help in managing metabolism, along with bone-strengthening minerals like calcium and iron. In our personal opinion, they’re also the tastiest of the dried fruits while out on a run.
Dried Mango – The beef jerky of the dried fruit world has some circulation-boosting properties, as well as plenty of potassium for recovery. If you’re looking for some serious vitamin C, we suggest a post-run or aid station snack of fresh mango.
While all of the super healthy items above are great, we all love the little “cheat” bits inside a pack of trail mix, so why not find a tasty one that works for you! We’ve added a list of our favorites, but use your imagination and find an outlier snack to toss into your flavor combo for the perfect run/hike/bike snack!
Pretzels • M&Ms • Marshmallows • Gummi Bears • Dry Cereal • Beef Jerky (if you want to get weird with it) • Popcorn
The most important thing to remember is HAVE FUN! Trail mixes should not only refuel you as an athlete, but you should enjoy the process of making it and eating it!
What’s your favorite trail mix combination? Leave us a comment and let us know!