When the team at Nuts.com asked us to put together our favorite trail mix recipe, in honor of National Trail Mix Day (It’s August 31st and yes, there is literally a day for everything.) we both immediately thought of popcorn trail mix. While popcorn might not be a traditional trail mix ingredient like nuts and dried fruit are, we have been using it in our mixes since grad school! We think we make a pretty good case for popcorn being a go-to trail mix component. Here’s our reasoning for adding popcorn to the mix, and for loving DIY trail mix in general:
- Popcorn adds a seriously satisfying crunch. While nuts and seeds offer up crunch, popcorn gives you that super crispy-crunchy mouthfeel that is just. so. satisfying.
- Popcorn gives a mix VOLUME. Some days, a 1/4 cup of nuts/seeds/dried fruit is all we need to feel satisfied. Other (AKA most) days, we need some volume in our snack.
- It provides a lightness. We love nuts and seeds, both for their flavor and abundance of healthy fats, but if you eat too many you feel like you swallowed a boulder. Popcorn is like the Amy Schumer of the trail mix world — it comes in and lightens things up a bit.
- Trail mix satisfies for the long-haul. This trail mix has all of the components of a snack that will stay with you until your next meal. Popcorn and dried fruit provide a nutrient-rich, high-fiber source of carbs, while the nuts and seeds offer up healthy fats, along with some protein and additional fiber.
- DIY trail mix is a blank slate. It can go sweet. It can go savory. It can go sweet and savory. You can really get creative with trail mix by switching up the flavors you impart.
And on that note, we return to our trail mix recipe that we created for National Trail Mix Day. It’s got vanilla coconut oil smothered popcorn that’s dusted in a turmeric-chai spice mixture and then mixed with roasted pepitas and pistachios and dried cherries. Oh, and then it’s drizzled with dark chocolate. Because, well, any chance we have to add chocolate to a snack, we will take.
You don’t have to have an air-popper to get awesome, fast, air-popped popcorn. Here’s a link to our video for a quick way to pop popcorn in a brown paper bag.
When it comes to getting the chocolate to evenly coat the ingredients, we tried a few ways. We found that scooping it up with a measuring spoon and then waving your hand/wrist back and forth really quickly was the best way to evenly disperse the melted chocolate over the ingredients.
What are some of your favorite DIY trail mix combos?? Let us know in the comments and be sure to snap a picture if you try this one, or any other version, at home. And share your creation(s) on Instagram with #cjnutrition and #nuttytrailmix so we can see how you do trail mix!
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (Or use 3/4 teaspoon matcha powder)
- 1/4 teaspoon Sea salt
- 1 pinch ground clove Adjust to taste -- this can be a strong flavor.
- 4 cups air-popped popcorn
- 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
- 3/4 teaspoon Vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup dried cherries
- 2 tablespoons unsalted, roasted pepitas (AKA pumpkin seeds)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted, roasted pistachios
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
- In a small bowl, mix the spices together thoroughly, set aside.
- Mix the coconut oil with the vanilla.
- In a large bowl, toss popcorn with the vanilla coconut oil, mixing well with your hands or a spoon to coat all popcorn.
- Sprinkle on the spices evenly, toss popcorn around while dusting, to evenly disperse.
- Add cherries, pepitas and pistachios and toss to coat. Spread the mixture out in a single layer on a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Microwave dark chocolate pieces, or heat over a double boiler, until melted and drizzle over trail mix, using a spoon and quick back and forth motions. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes to let chocolate harden.
- Toss the trail mix together and store in a sealed container for up to 7 days. If it's warm out, store in the fridge.
jaredAugust 26, 2016 at 8:32 pm (7 years ago)
What a creative way to make popcorn. It also seems hearty… I can’t wait to try it!
C & J NutritionAugust 26, 2016 at 9:39 pm (7 years ago)
Thanks! Ya — the combo of popcorn, nuts/seeds, fruit (and chocolate) are super satisfying/hearty! Let us know what you think when you make it!
DianeAugust 26, 2016 at 9:08 pm (7 years ago)
Love the combo of dried cherries & pistachios, a great diversion from the usual almonds and cranberries, not to mention the decadent addition of dark chocolate. Sounds like a winner! Definitely giving it a try!
C & J NutritionAugust 26, 2016 at 9:39 pm (7 years ago)
Yay! Can’t wait to hear what you think when you make it at home!! xx
SallyAugust 26, 2016 at 9:37 pm (7 years ago)
Sounds interesting. I have never thought about putting spices and dried fruit together. I will have to give this a try!
C & J NutritionAugust 26, 2016 at 9:38 pm (7 years ago)
Let us know when you try it. The combo of the sweet fruit with the spices is one of our faves!
SharonAugust 26, 2016 at 10:33 pm (7 years ago)
I love chai spices and would never have thought to use them on popcorn. But I’m thinking about it now! In fact, I suspect I will be thinking about it until I make the time to try it.
C & J NutritionAugust 27, 2016 at 12:34 am (7 years ago)
Can’t wait to hear about it when you do make a batch (or two!).
DeanAugust 28, 2016 at 5:07 pm (7 years ago)
This sounds like an interesting trail mix recipe. I often make trail mix, not just for hiking but to have a good available snack any time between meals. Though I always make traditional trail mixes with a variety of nuts, dried fruits and chocolate I do like popcorn and the spicy trail mix sounds like it would a great additional recipe to try.
It is nice to have a couple versions of trail mix handy in your cupboard or desk so that you know you have a quick healthy snack whenever you need one so I will add this version to the cupboard.
C & J NutritionAugust 29, 2016 at 11:35 am (7 years ago)
Yes! Perfect on a fall hike with a thermos of coffee. Also perfect to have in the cabinet so holiday visitors can eat it all. 🙂
Caroline@CarolineKaufmanNutritionAugust 30, 2016 at 7:47 pm (7 years ago)
I am totally unsurprised at how completely clever and delicious this trail mix is! You guys are so awesome. Vanilla coconut oil?! So the spices stick to it?! Even that description is delicious. YUM!!!
C & J NutritionAugust 30, 2016 at 9:09 pm (7 years ago)
Thanks Caroline!! Gotta have maximum spice stickage right?!?! 🙂