Trail mix for the college student

Sending students off to college? Make sure you make some of this better than Red Bull trail mix, complete with dark chocolate espresso beans. They'll be happy! It’s been a little quite around in this space the last few weeks as we try to squeeze in all the summer goodness we can before Josiah leaves to go back to New York for school. We have enjoyed him being home this summer and I’m super sad to see him leave but at the same time I’m happy he’s going back. Living in New York while your family is in Texas is hard at any age but at 19 I think it would be a little harder once the newness and adventure wears off. So, while I’ll miss him I’m glad he’s going back and finishing what he started. Plus it will give me a reason to hone my Skype skills. 

Josiah did pretty good navigating NYC and the food issues last year. Unlike colleges in most of the country, there is no meal plan for those living in the dorms. And well, food is quite pricey and Trader Joe’s was kind of out of the way from Josiah’s normal route. We would send Josiah care packages and would always make sure we put some apples in them for him. We’ll do the same this year.

He leaves next week and while I cannot send him with food for a whole semester – that would be more than his plane ticket – I can make a few healthy treats for him to take back with him. Of course I’ll be making some chewy granola bars but I also wanted something that was lightweight, nutrient dense and non-perishable. So I made trail mix with a “kick”. 

My family loves trail mix but it can be super pricey. And while it is certainly a better snack than most packaged foods I know I can make it healthier and cheaper than anything I can buy already made. I decided to make Josiah some trail mix with a few chocolate covered espresso beans in the mix. Here’s my reasoning, it’s nice to have a little treat in the mix but I don’t want it to overwhelm the mix and I want it to be easy to pick out. I usually see things like M&Ms in trail mix, but the they kind of overwhelm everything else so I wanted something that was bigger and I would use less of them.

I like to include nutrient dense foods like goji berries, cranberries, nuts (macadamia, pecans, peanuts, almonds – whatever I happen to have or is on sale) and sunflower seeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Since those items can be pricey, I keep the costs down by using some homemade granola as the base and adding in home dehydrated apples and bananas when I have them. Here’s the deal, trail mix isn’t really that filling. It’s a snack food and, just like chips or crackers, you start eating it and before you know it you’ve eaten the whole package. I really can’t afford to feed my family high dollar snacks so using homemade granola and home dehydrated fruits really cuts the cost.

For the homemade granola sometimes I use our slow cooker granola and sometimes I use the topping of our fruit crisp and bake it until it’s dry and crumbly. Both work well. 

Chocolate Espresso Trail Mix
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Homemade Granola
  1. 1 cup melted butter or coconut oil
  2. 2/3 cup brown sugar
  3. 3 cups rolled oats
Chocolate Espresso Trail Mix
  1. 2 cups granola
  2. 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  3. 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  4. 1/2 cup roughly chopped macadamia nuts (or other nuts)
  5. 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  6. 1/4 cup goji berries
  7. 3/4 cup dark chocolate covered espresso beans
Homemade Granola
  1. Mix well and put into a 9X13 pan to bake. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes until the mixture is brown. You can stir it once or twice. It will crisp up once it cools so don't bake it until it's crispy.
Chocolate Espresso Trail Mix
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Enjoy!


Sending students off to college? Make sure you make some of this better than Red Bull trail mix, complete with dark chocolate espresso beans. They'll be happy!

What are some of your favorite ingredients for trail mix?

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