Here is the trail mix recipe from Freda Butner, a nutrition marketing specialist for the N.C. Department of Agriculture:
Trail Mix Matrix
The advantage of trail mix is that most any combination goes, plus it ships and holds well! Knowing the student’s preferences will help to guide the mix selection. A health food store or store that carries bulk-bin options is a good place to shop for the ingredients.
Purchasing the ingredients to make a bulk supply of trail mix will not be cheap, but neither is buying it pre-packaged. The important cue is to keep ingredients in proportion, make it with healthy ingredients in mind, and avoid “flavored” individual ingredients. The mix will take on an essence of its own and a pre-flavored item will compete with the natural blending of flavors.
Serving size, no matter the content or volume = a handful, or about ¼ cup. Choosing the lowest possible added fat and salt content yields a powerhouse of protein, fiber and nutrients and staying power –a necessity for long hours at the library. Place into snack-size baggies and ship in a sealed, plastic container(s).
Mix in equal parts: recipe can be increased so long as you follow the ratio given
• 1 cup dried fruits
• 1 cup nuts
• ½ cup seeds
• ½ cup granola-type cereal or other grain-based snacks
• ½ cup extras for taste and color variety (avoid the equal ratio increase on this)
Dried fruit variety
• sweet and sour varieties
• unsweetened (the natural sugar is concentrated when dried)
• unsulfured, if possible
• soft, chewy and crunchy textures
• (raisins, chopped dried plums, banana chips, tropical fruits, cherries, apricots, dates, blueberries, apple, cranberries, etc.)
Nut variety (shelled, whole, halves, pieces or chopped)
• any three different kinds
• unsalted is best
• no added sugars or flavors (there is plenty of natural sweetness in dried fruits)
• (pecans, almonds, filberts, cashews, soy nuts, walnuts, pistachios, peanuts, hazel nuts, pine nuts, etc.)
• same as the nuts (at least two)
• if you collect and roast your own seeds, make sure they are from organic sources; seeds collected from the some fruit may have concentrated a concentrated source of pesticides/herbicides if conventionally grown.
• (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, flax seed, poppy seed, etc.)
Cereal/grain snack suggestions
• grape nuts
• Low fat granola
• Plain or Multi-grain Cheerios, Chex or Shredded Wheat
• Mini pretzels (sticks or shapes)
• Mini whole-wheat crackers, or other small crackers, pita chips, etc.
• Gold fish (plain)
• Crumbled ginger snaps
• Plain or caramel coated popcorn
Extra treats in small amounts
• Dark chocolate, peanut butter or butterscotch chips
• Coconut flakes
• Yogurt covered raisins
• Handful of mini colored candies like M&Ms, Reece’s pieces, etc.
For extra flair for the spicy loving students, try adding
• dried ginger pieces or crystals,
• sprinkle some cinnamon or ginger, dry mustard, garlic powder, and/or cayenne, paprika or wasabi
• experiment with other combinations of spice mixes, but if you choose a manufactures’ blend (example, Cajun) avoid ones with a high sodium content or MSG.
For those inclined to shop on the Internet, support local suppliers such as the Tropical Nut & Fruit Company in Charlotte for bulk supplies of dried fruits, nuts and snack mixes at http://www.tropicalfoods.com/.
For a complete list of North Carolina companies catering to pre-packaged gifts of savory snack foods, coffees, teas and sauces visit the Got to Be NC Specialty Foods catalog at http://www.ncagr.gov/markets/specfoods/images/dishThis_2007.pdf.