One of my favorite snacks of all time is a handful of (slightly) salty tree nuts, be them walnuts, pecans, pistachios (whose ice cream variant I find irresistible), almonds, cashews (see note on ice cream), pine nuts, Brazil nuts, or some other variant. It’s what we commonly call trail mix.
But my affinity turned pricey once I decided to practice it habitually. I found myself paying a lot and getting a little, and soon had to curtail my healthy snacking. So last summer I naturally turned to the Internet, where I found Happy Belly, Amazon’s snack brand. I was definitely suspicious at first, wondering how the brand could afford to sell me nearly three pounds (44 ounces) of deluxe (no peanuts) mixed nuts — cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, pecans, and hazelnuts — for about $24. That’s $8 a pound, and here I’ve been paying so much more for so much less at my local grocery.
I bought the bag, wise enough not to sign up yet for recurring shipments (which would slice another 5% off the total), and the rest is history. It was perfect. The roast has actual flavor and the nuts aren’t overly (sea) salted. Notably, the crack and crunch of each nut feels very fresh, which I didn’t know mattered to me until it did. If you’re wondering, the nut variety breakdown is (approximately) as follows: 45% cashews, 40% almonds, 5% brazil nuts, 5% hazelnuts, and 5% pecans. I’d call that reasonable but your expectations might vary and that’s okay: This is your trail mix. I’ve been subscribed to the deluxe bag since then, and have expanded my repertoire with the brand’s raw almonds, which also come roasted and salted if that’s your thing.
For the past few months, I’ve been experimenting with adding dried fruit to the mix, completely controlling the makeup of my trail mix and making it a bit sweeter to the tooth. I’m a big fan of raisins, which deliver a sweet pop in a compact vehicle that can easily spread across a trail mix — shaken, of course. And when it comes to sweetening the deal otherwise, the sky’s the limit, really. Consider options like the conservative — and, uh, cleansing — pitted dried prunes, a very orange bag of dried papaya chunks, or more brave flavors like tropical fruit medleys, including mango, papaya, pineapple, banana chips, and kiwi.
And if I haven’t emphasized this enough, this is your trail mix. So if you want to get some ready-made and interesting blends, go right ahead. Check out the tropical trail mix, which has everything from mango to cashews to coconut chips. Or the chocolate and dried fruit mix — chocolate, of course, on top of raisins, almonds, and cashews. Or even the sweet and spicy trail mix, comprised of spicy peanuts, butter toffee peanuts, cajun sesame sticks, toasted corn, honey sesame sticks, and almonds.
Whatever your mix is, mix it yourself to take control of your snacking — and yes, experimentation is encouraged so don’t be .
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