Thursday, June 22, 2006

Trail Mix

There are a few foods that I just don't like: popcorn, avocados, Americanized Asian food, ranch dressing, anything served at the golden arches (you know the place, and their McEvil) and, of course, almonds. Granted, there are exceptions to almost every rule, including the aforementioned. For instance, McEvil serves Coca Cola, of which I am a long-time fan. And I frequently use crushed and/or ground almonds in baked goods. But whole almonds, that's just gross.

Among the much longer list of foods that I do love is trail mix. Like some mol├ęs, it's one of the few foods that you can put chocolate in and still pass off as healthful. I usually have a jar or bag of the stuff at my desk at work, and it usually keeps me from buying candy bars when I get snacky. But have you ever tried to find a trail mix without almonds? It's near impossible! And if that weren't enough, it's almost as if some manufacturers like to find anything else good in there and tweak with it just to screw it up. I mean, I love pineapple. Dried pineapple can even be good, but when everything in the mix is about the size of an almond except for the half rings of dried pineapple, or the massive chunk of dried mangoes, well, that's just a good way to screw up a good trail mix. So I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Joseph's Standard Trail Mix

2 cups cashews
1 cup dried banana slices
1 cup cubed mango/pineapple mix
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dark raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup macadamia nuts
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1 cup peanut M&Ms

Mix 'em together and you're good to go. Just a couple of notes. First, my local market happens to have a mix of cubed dried mangoes and pineapple. The cubes are small, maybe 1/4-inch each or so. They're perfect. Dried apricots are rarely perfect, because they're usually the big hunks that I dislike so much. I just use my kitchen shears to cut them into smaller pieces. Don't try using a knife, things will get really sticky and you'll end up pretty unhappy. Also, because the macadamia nuts were already salted, I just bought raw cashews and roasted them myself without any salt. I need to be careful, you know. And as it turns out, I'm not a really huge fan of just peanuts. But they are good for you. And as it turns out, the addition of peanut M&Ms is a perfect way to include them anyway, and sneak in a little chocolate while you're at it.

Of course, this is just my trail mix, formulated for me. It's probably just a touch more expensive than commercial trail mixes, but at least I don't have to go through picking out almonds. And if I get tired of something else, I can just leave it out next time. If I find something new, I can just add it in. I don't think I even used golden raisins last time I made this, but I had some in the cupboard, so I used 'em. It's just like the pasta salad, do what you want to do. You have the chance to do something that nobody else can really do: make something that's perfect for you.

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