Saturday, February 13, 2010

Trail Mix

Wandering through the aisles at my local Target, I stumbled upon a remarkable discovery – an entire wall of assorted trail mixes. There were bags with ingredients that ranged from the generic mix of peanuts, raisins, and M&M's to the more exotic dried apricots, yogurt covered raisins, and cinnamon glazed pecans. I stared in wonder at the variety and creativity of the differently themed mixes. I have always been a lover of nuts, chocolate, and dried fruit, so the endless possibility of combining these delicious flavors intrigued me.

After trying countless varieties of trail mixes from organic grocery stores and even airport newsstands, I have found that there is nothing that beats creating your own blend. I tend to favor mixes that are loaded with nuts, especially almonds, peanuts and cashews. Cereal, often Cheerios or Chex Mix, is also a common staple that provides a foundation for this tasty treat. The sweet flavorful bursts from the dried fruit and chocolate make the mix thrilling for the palate.

I usually start with M&M's -- a staple in any trail mix. Raisins pair wonderfully with the saltiness of the peanuts and also cut the sweetness of the milk chocolate. Yogurt covered raisins are even more delicious and add a hint of vanilla to the mix. I like to add dried apricots, pecans, and sometimes hazelnuts, which when paired with M&M's create a taste reminiscent of Nutella. There are some other decadent ingredients that I have been known to add to my trail mixes, including white chocolate chunks, banana chips, cinnamon chips, and dark chocolate covered peanuts. Creating your own trail mix is an experiment in trial and error and it often takes a few tries to come up with a mix that has the perfect balance of sweetness and saltiness, but whatever your blend may be, trail mix is truly the perfect snack for any occasion.

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