I love this time of year, not least of all because of the warm comfort foods offered plentifully from one party to the next. The offerings remind me of the way food is supposed to be shared, how it was shared long before we were too busy to take the time to enjoy it together. Despite my love for the season’s traditional fare, as we wander gathering to gathering, noshing towards what certainly feels like a hibernating long winter’s sleep, I find myself looking for foods that are a little lighter and a little less sweet. This Spiced Trail Mix is the perfect thing to nab to lighten things up.
Living in a walnut orchard, we make trail mix a staple in our house. I usually make up a jar at the beginning of each week and send some to work with the farmer, while the kids and I snack on the rest. It’s shelf-stable, travels well, and easily complements an appetizer table or becomes a quick hostess gift. For the holidays I like to fancy it up a bit with some spices and even a little orange zest. There’s no wrong way, so grab the ingredients that sound best to you, toast, mix, and share.
SPICED TRAIL MIX
- 2½ cups raw walnuts chopped (or ask a local grower if they sell walnut pieces and skip the chopping)
- ½–¾ cup cup chopped pecans
- ½–¾ cups raw cashews
- ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 cup dried goji berries or golden raisins
- 1 cup dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin spice or 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- Dash of sea salt
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary optional
- Preheat oven to 250°.
- Combine all nuts and seeds and toss with maple syrup, then spread on parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle with pumpkin spice and a dash of salt and rosemary (optional).
- Toast in oven for 15 to 20 minutes. (We like them a little bit crunchy, but err on the shorter side because walnuts are sensitive to heat and develop a burnt taste if left too long)
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with orange zest. Let cool, mix in dried fruit and dark chocolate.
- Store in the fridge for best results.
Erin McCarthy Bianchi is a Registered Dietitian and all-around local food lover. She and her two daughters spend many hours in the kitchen cooking and eating. Follow Erin on Instagram @thefarmerandthecook for more simple recipes using local ingredients.