So, armageddon happened. We're sitting here with the power out, watching TV by candlelight. Hundreds of channels on cable, and nothing's on.
Anyway, earlier I made up some trail mix, which we're eating now, whilst watching a blank TV. Why go to all that effort? Here's the secret that nobody wants to admit about trail mix: most of it sucks. Even the good stuff, the allegedly healthy stuff. It's super salty, and it's super sweet. They fill it with chocolate (good plan for hot weather, yeah?). Or if there's no chocolate, then it's giant chunks of candied fruit, which is healthy because it's fruit. Right? Either way, you end up needing more salt to cut the sugar. And if you want trail mix without all that sugar, you end up with the stuff that's entirely peanuts and almonds. (And if you're allergic to almonds, well, sucks to be you (or me, in this case.))
Whole Foods cleverly has these neat bins of semi-finished trail mix that you can mix and match to alter your proportions, but it's still all just the same crap, and you just get to modify the candied fruit to almond ratio a little. Not much use, really.
I decided to visit the bulk foods bins instead, and came up with a trail mix that might actually be 1) healthy, and 2) delicious.
Here's what I bought for the latest batch (which is the best batch so far).
- Roasted unsalted peanuts
- Roasted salted soy nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Unshelled pistachios
- Dried blueberries
- Dried figs
- Dried mangos
- Date pieces
Here's what I have used in the past, but didn't get into the mix this time:
- Dried goji berries
- Dried cranberries
So, here's the thing with this trail mix. The soy nuts are the ONLY salt source needed. All the sweetness comes from the fruit and the pistachios. You can use any ingredients you want (including chocolate, almonds, and candied fruit) - the key is keeping the proportions right, the size of the pieces relatively uniform, and the overall flavors varied and subtle. If you're going to use chocolate or candied fruit, use it sparingly, so that when you get some, it's a happy surprise, and not something that overwhelms the flavors in every mouthful.
- Find a big mixing bowl. No, the REALLY big one. Yeah, that'll do.
- Equal parts peanuts and soy nuts. This is about 50% of the bulk of the trail mix. The soy nuts are both the salt and the crunch. (Entomology aficionados will rightly claim that roasted crickets will serve the same purpose, but since this is a "to taste" recipe, I've left them out.)
- Heat up a cast iron pan. Roast the sesame seeds and the pumpkin seeds. If you feel like it, roast the cashews. (In the previous batch, I salted the seeds while roasting, and the overall mix came out too salty. If you have leftover pumpkin seeds, roast them and salt them and eat them up (yum).)
- What do you mean you don't know how to roast sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds? You throw them in a hot cast iron pan, move 'em around the bottom of it with a spatula until they're done. You want me to hold your hand? Figure it out.
- Throw all that stuff into the mix, and also the pistachios, and blueberries, and raisins, and any other ingredient that is roughly of the same size. Mix. Yes, you can use your hands.
- The date pieces are those weird long tube things that they put in other trail mixes. Use just a little (by volume, this is my least used ingredient), and break the tubes into small, peanut-sized bits. The idea is to have your bits to be mostly about the same size.
- Slice the figs and mangos - again, aim for pieces of about the same size. The figs will clump together if you aren't careful. The mangos will try to trick the knife into cutting your fingers. I recommend foiling them both.
- Mix it all together. Add stuff until such time as each handful of the trail mix has all the stuff you want to put in your mouth.