Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Travel Trail Mix

Yesterday I wrote about books we like to take with us on our travels, especially when those travels involve long stretches of time in cars or planes. What else do I pack when faced with a long trip? Why, snacks of course!

Our favorite go-to car snack is trail mix. Or, "trail mix", as what I make bears little resemblance to actual trail mix. Granola is out because most commercially prepared granola is not gluten-free. We use cereal in place of the granola.

Truth be told, my kids like our trail mix so much that I've been known to pack it in their lunches or offer it as snacks. They've been known to make it themselves when I'm too busy (read: they're too impatient) to get them a snack. It's super easy to make.

Ingredients (choose at least one from each category):

Something Crunchy
  • dry cereals: Gorilla Munch, Panda Puffs, Rice Chex, Corn Chex, Cinnamon Chex, Nature's Path Organic Whole O's
  • dry cereals for non-Celiacs: Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, Kashi Honey Sunshine, Life, Quaker Oat Squares, Fruit Loops, Crunch Berries... basically, you non-Celiacs have choices aplenty (I miss cereal.)
  •  pretzels
  • snack crackers like Annie's Bunnies (there is a gluten-free variety!) or Goldfish crackers (these are NOT gluten-free!)

Something Nutty
examples: peanuts, cashews (or moon nuts, as they are called in our house), almonds, pistachios

Something Fruity
examples: raisins, Craisins, dried pineapple, dried cherries, dried coconut, freeze dried strawberries, freeze dried apples

Something Chocolatey
examples: M&Ms, Trader Joe's Power Berries (so very good!), chocolate chips, Reese's Pieces

1. Choose your ingredients. I typically choose whatever we have on hand. If I know in advance that we'll be taking a trip I might make a special trip to the store to buy ingredients. But we typically have cereal, Craisins and chocolate chips on hand so that's what the boys use when they make it themselves. Today we used raisins, dried blueberries, cereal, cashews, dark chocolate covered Powerberries and M&Ms (leftover from Easter).

2. There's no hard and fast rule about how much of each ingredient to include. I imagine much of it boils down to personal preference and personal quirks. (My children tell me I never put enough chocolate in. And I completely omit almonds from my younger son's bag because he picks them out every time.)

How easy is this to make? Easy enough that a four year old and a six year old can do it without help. Here's proof:

If we are going on a long trip that involves spending time in a hotel or multiple days in the car I'll prepare a large bag of trail mix for each kid and serve them out of that througout the week. If it's just a long drive or plane trip (or a snack at home) they get their trail mix in a reusable snack bowl or cup.

We're heading out of town soon and you can bet we'll be mixing some of this up for car snacks.

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