Trail Mix

by Nancy on August 30, 2011

in Snacks

I’ve been experimenting for a while to make the perfect trail mix. My trail mix has to have the right mix of flavors and all of the pieces had to be about the same size and chunky. Mixes with little pieces and big pieces are out. With similar sizes you get a handful containing all of the different ingredients each time instead of a handful of one or two chunky ingredients at the beginning and a handful of tiny bits at the end. Sunflower seeds are a good example of a flavor that’s great in trail mix but is so small that it sifts to the bottom. You should be able to grab a handful of trail mix without looking at the container to pick it up so the ingredients need to be chunky.

I like coconut in my trail mix but most store bought coconut flakes fall into the category of too small. Bob’s Red Mill makes a large flaked coconut that I use when I’m in a hurry to put together a batch of trail mix. You can find it packaged in the baking section or in a bulk bin in stores that carry bulk ingredients. If I have the time, I make my own coconut chunks like the ones in the photo. Directions for making coconut chunks are in the accompanying post.

When I told my family that I had perfected my trail mix recipe and was going to make a batch for photography, I was inundated with requests – use walnuts, use pecans, add dried cherries, don’t use coconut, use peanut M&Ms! Apparently everyone has his or her own idea of the perfect trail mix. Substitute ingredients to fit your personal tastes.

Trail mix is designed to be a high energy (high calorie) food for hiking or other strenuous activities. If you’ll also be sweating during your activity, use salted nuts to help maintain your salt level. Eat trail mix sparingly unless you are active. Don’t make up a gallon ziplock bag of trail mix and munch your way through it on your next cross country car trip!

Trail Mix


  • one 15 oz. bag dark chocolate M&Ms
  • 3/4 cup roasted, salted cashews
  • 3/4 cup Sunmaid jumbo raisins
  • 3/4 cup coconut chunks
  1. If dried fruit is very moist or sticky, place on tray to dry for 2 or 3 days or dry in 200 degree oven for 30 minutes. If fruit is too moist, it will melt the coating on the candy.
  2. Prepare coconut chunks according to accompanying recipe.
  3. Mix all ingredients in large container.

Here are some substitution suggestions:

M&Ms – milk chocolate M&Ms, peanut M&Ms, Reese’s Pieces. Candy coating keeps chocolate from melting in warm weather. In cool weather you can use chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips.

Cashews – peanuts, walnuts, pecans, almonds, pumpkin seeds. Nuts and seeds can be raw or roasted. Use roasted, salted nuts if weather is hot (salted nuts don’t come unroasted).

Raisins – dried apricot pieces, dried raisins, dates, dried apples, dried pineapple. Any bite-sized dried fruit will work. Dried cranberries (cran-raisins) and dried blueberries are good but a little small for my trail mix.

Coconut chunks – large flaked coconut, banana chips.



Raw Apple Cake

by Nancy on September 21, 2010

in Breads,Breakfasts,Cakes,Desserts

Raw Apple Cake

Raw apple cake is another old recipe handed down from my Grandma Brink that I make regularly. I like it better than applesauce cake for a couple of reasons. Bits of apple, along with the raisins and nuts, give this cake more texture than applesauce cake which I find too smooth. Also, most people use store bought applesauce which usually has very little flavor hence the cake has very little flavor.

I only make this cake in the summer from sweet, fully ripe summer or fall apples. Jonathan apples are my favorite. They rarely appear in the markets so I planted my own tree (did I say Jonathan is my favorite apple?).

This is a heavy, moist cake. Don’t try to tip the whole cake out of the pan, it’s likely to fall apart. Cut it into serving pieces and move the pieces to a serving plate or serve on individual plates.

Raw Apple Cake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening (butter or margarine)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cocoa
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped raw apple (1 large apple)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  1. Cream sugar and shortening.
  2. Add egg, spices, soda, raisins, apple, and nuts.
  3. Mix in water and flour.
  4. Pour in greased pan and bake at 350 degrees; 8″ square pan for 40 minutes, 15 cupcakes for 20 minutes.