Originally posted 11/17/15
This is my story about how a 25 mile day thru-hike inspired the creation of my most favorite superfood trail mix recipe.
Last month, friends and I traveled West to complete the epic Grand Canyon Rim-To-Rim hike and then spent a few days exploring the deserts of Utah and relaxing at Amangiri, a remote hideaway tucked within the canyons of Canyon Point. For me, this trip was an epic physical and mental challenge as well as a respite from the stresses of my chaotic life back in Boston.
The Rim-To-Rim is ranked high on the Richter scale of hikes and crossing this magnificent trek off my bucket list was thrilling. The hike itself was jaw-dropping and breathtaking – pure, intoxicating sensory-overload.
We started at the South Rim before sunrise and finished at the North Rim trailhead around 5:00 p.m. In about 11.5 hours, we traversed 25 knee-pounding miles and experienced an elevation change of about 10,500 feet. Let me give you a sense of the Rim-To-Rim’s awesomeness. See the photo below? Now look closely and you will notice a little squiggly line off in the distance. This is a section of the North Kaibab Trail, which was the second half and one of the most grueling parts of the trek. My quads are shaking just thinking about it!
I returned to the East Coast with an overpowering feeling and realization that nature undoubtedly can recharge the mind, body and soul. This is a warm sentiment that I will forever keep close to my heart.
A Herculean hike requires a damn good trail mix
Food was essential to my survival during the hike. The food I carried in my pack was fuel for when my energy bonked. I had with me all sorts of salty, fatty and sweet snacks. My backpack was bursting with:
- Assorted Dried Fruit (mango, apricots, etc.)
- Epic Jerky Bites-Galore (yum)
- Honey Stinger Energy Gels (meh)
- Justin’s Honey Almond Butter
- SaltStick Electrolyte Salt Capsules (game-changers)
- Skratch Labs Hydration/Electrolyte Drink Mixes (heaven)
- Stinger Energy Chews/Gummies
- Tanka Buffalo Bites (delish)
- My ultimate superfood trail mix
I’ve been asked, “Out of all of these provisions, which was my favorite to nosh on while crossing the Grand Canyon?” My answer: “My ultimate organic superfood trail mix, of course!”*
Yup… that’s right, trail mix. I am not talking about your traditional Girl Scout’s GORP (“Good Old Raisins and Peanuts”), kids. I am talking about a different monster – the quintessential and most gourmet of trail mixes – one that initiates beast-mode once consumed.
*Note: ….This was true until I reached the last and most tiring section of the hike. At that point, due to error on my part from stuffing my backpack with too much crap (I had trail mix surplus…probably a few pounds of it), I, with mixed emotions of sadness, happiness and relief, began giving away my enormous ration of trail mix to anyone who would take it. I felt like the fairy trail-mix Godmother….or like Oprah and her most favorite things (YOU get some trail mix, YOU get some trail mix, EVERYBODY gets some trail mix!).
I was relieved when other hikers accepted my “modern-day GORP” gift, because around the 9-hour mark, my pack was feeling less like the small Osprey backpack that it was, and more like a 3,000 pound hippo, awkwardly balancing on my sore shoulders and tired back. Ouch. Lesson learned – go light on the packing next time.
Preparation = Success
To be successful with any nutrition program, you need to have healthy, nutrient-dense foods on standby. These foods should be the kind that do not require much on-the-spot preparation and need to be able to travel with you no matter where you go. The superfood trail mix recipe I created while training for the Rim-To-Rim is still one of my favorite go-to snacks. It is appropriate for all activities, not just extreme day hiking.
As I hinted before, this superfood trail mix is an animal. Its highly nutritious superfruits, nuts and seeds along with antioxidant-rich cacao nibs provide a boost of nourishment any time of the day and can push you through mid-day energy crashes and strenuous activities.
This trail mix is great for:
- Camping trips
- Cruising around town
- Fishing excursions
- Road trips
- Travel (great go-to snack in airports and on planes)
Get your snack on
Eat this bad-ass trail mix straight-up as a snack. Pack and store it in ziplock bags or tupperware. Take it wherever you go, but be careful. If you are the type of person who can easily and mindlessly nosh his/her way through an enormous bag of trail mix, be sure to toss this trail mix into smaller, individual serving-size containers.
Combine with other foods
Fuse this superfood trail mix with other foods to make a healthy meal or tasty treat. For a guaranteed energy boost, incorporate it into:
- Almond butter
- Baked goods (cookies, muffins, etc.)
- Fruit breakfast bowls
- Hot and cold cereals
…and create something like this. Below is a breakfast bowl I made by combining trail mix with strawberries, blueberries, bananas and apples. I then topped it with creamy, smooth almond butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon (not pictured). It is like heaven in a bowl; happiness for your belly! It is one of my favorites ways to start the day, especially when traveling!
What’s so special about a bunch of fruits, nuts and seeds?
This combination of super fruits, nuts and seeds provides a burst of nutritional goodness, supports your daily intake of key nutrients, and tastes good! The trail mix has an all-star micronutrient lineup of:
- Amino acids
- Beta carotene (Vitamin A)
- Dietary fiber
- Omega fatty acids
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Learn more about the health benefits of the superfruits found in this yummy snack by clicking the link below:
My kick-ass superfood trail mix recipe contains:
- Goji berries
- Dried mulberries
- Cacao nibs
- Cashews (or macadamia nuts)
- Pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- Sunflower seeds
- Coconut flakes
- Raisins or unsweetened cranberries
- 1 cup raw goji berries
- 1 cup raw goldenberries
- 1 cup raw dried mulberries
- ¼ cup raw unsweetened cacao nibs
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup raw cashews or macadamia nuts
- 1 cup raw shelled pistachios
- 1 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
- ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 cup raw walnuts (optional)
- 1 cup raisins or unsweetened cranberries (optional)
- ¼ cup dehydrated banana (optional)
- Eat this trail mix by itself or combine it with other foods to make a healthy meal or tasty treat.
I am grateful that my Rim-To-Rim hike spurred inspiration for creating this awesome, kick-ass treat. If you are looking for a healthy and yummy superfood boost, you NEED to make this ultimate superfood trail mix. It may be a bit pricey compared to a traditional trail mix, but it is well worth the money. Packed with potent antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, it will power you through any activity or meal.
Don’t be afraid to play with the recipe – omit less desirable ingredients or add ones that titillate your taste buds.
- What do you think of this trail mix?
- Have you tried the recipe yet?
- Do you like it? Hate it? Why or why not?
- Have you hiked the Rim-to-Rim?
Please share your thoughts by commenting below this post. As always, I want to hear (and learn) from you!
- All photos: Jennifer Regan, Bamboo Core Fitness