How to Make Healthy Trail Mix

Many people grab a bag of trail mix before going hiking. People also choose this as a healthy snack for work and on the road. But, is trail mix always a healthy choice? Many store-bought trail mixes can be filled with fat and calories. Not to mention nuts that have been fried and pieces of dried fruit that isn’t even recognizable. Is this really what you want to be eating? Still, you shouldn’t give up on this snack. Trail mix can be healthy, especially if you make your own.

The first step to make healthy trail mix is to start with a base of granola. But, you have to remember that not all granola is healthy. Many granolas are filled with sugar, fat, and calories. The key is to choose granola that is low in sugar and calories, but high in good fats. You can also make your own granola, which allows you control the ingredients that go into your healthy trail mix even more.

The second step to make healthy trail mix is to choose raw nuts. Do not use canned mixed nuts to make your trail mix. Canned nuts have been fried and salted. Instead, look for raw almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc. Not only will these be a healthier choice, but they really do taste better when contrasted with the other flavors in trail mix.

The third step is to make healthy trail mix is to choose healthy dried fruits. Not all dried fruits are healthy though. Some are coated with sugar, while others are just loaded with calories. Fruits like dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, and apricots make healthy trail mix. Fruits like banana chips and dried pineapple should be avoided. Bananas chips are high in calories and dried pineapple is often coated in sugar.

The last step is to make healthy trail mix is to add dark chocolate chips. Now, I know what you’re thinking. “I thought this was going to be healthy trail mix? Chocolate isn’t healthy.” I don’t mean to be rude, but you’re wrong. Dark chocolate is actually really good for you, when enjoyed in small amounts. Not only is it good for you, but dark chocolate tastes wonderful when combined with nuts and dried fruit. That makes it perfect for healthy trail mix.

Once you’ve picked out all your ingredients, pour them into a large container and mix thoroughly. Then just package the trail mix in smaller containers, or zip top bags, so that you can easily transport the snack wherever you want to enjoy it.

Quick and Easy Decorated Valentine Cupcakes

Whether it’s for a class party, your coworkers or that special someone, nothing shows you care like homemade cupcakes. The amount of time and effort it takes to embellish them will surprise you and the effect will astound your recipient.

You will need the following items:

  • 1 box of your favorite chocolate cake mix
  • 1 can of chocolate frosting
  • 2 tbsp vanilla frosting
  • ½ cup chocolate jimmies (long sprinkles)
  • 3 tbsp red, white and pink jimmies
  • 1 cup dark chocolate frosting
  • 4 marshmallows
  • Assorted Valentine candies (Sweethearts, Valentine candy corn, holiday M&Ms, Red dots – anything you can find)

Prepare the cupcakes according to the directions on the package and allow to cool. Meanwhile, set up your decorating supplies. Spoon 2 tablespoons each of the chocolate and vanilla frostings into separate small ziplock bags, press the air out and seal. Place the jimmies in separate shallow bowls

Spread the remaining chocolate frosting (not the dark chocolate) on ten or twelve of your cupcakes. Roll the edges of the cupcakes in the desired sprinkles. Set these aside for now.

Next, spoon the dark chocolate frosting into a 1-cup glass measure. Microwave, stirring frequently, until the frosting has the consistency of lightly whipped cream, 10 to 15 seconds. Hold a cupcake by its paper bottom and dip the entire top, up to the edge of the paper liner, into the melted frosting. Lift the cupcake straight p and hold to allow the excess frosting to drip off. Roll the edges in the sprinkles, if desired. Repeat with remaining cupcakes. Set aside.

Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Cut 2 of the marshmallows in half vertically and the other 2 in half horizontally. Using a fork, dip each piece of marshmallow into the remaining dark chocolate frosting to cover. You may need to reheat and stir the frosting to maintain the dipping consistency. Transfer the coated marshmallows to the cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes until the chocolate has set.

Slip a spatula or butter knife under the marshmallows to loosen from the wax paper. Transfer the marshmallows to the top of the chocolate-frosted cupcakes, placing the cut side down. Snip a 1/16-inch corner in the bags containing the frosting. Pipe swirls or zigzags on top of the marshmallows with the desired frosting. Decorate the remaining cupcakes with your candies.

Transfer finished cupcakes to a serving plate. For a unique presentation, use a heart-shaped platter or box. Fill the spaces between the cupcakes with small candies such as M&M’s.