When I wrote about food strategies for road trips a couple of weeks ago, several readers informed me I'd forgotten a major category of easy-to-eat, low-mess foods: trail mix.
Or snack mix, or gorp, or whatever you want to call it.
The point is, it's the stuff that's kept people energized on journeys from car trips to hikes for decades. Heck, my mom supplied us with individual-size bags of her favorite brand (it's the store brand at Costco, in case you're interested) to munch on our recent trip from Texas to Utah.
But I don't necessarily agree that snack mix is great road trip food when it comes to messiness. The problem with many commercial mixes is that kids (and husbands, and me sometimes) don't like to eat every single thing in the mix.
The result is predictable: opened bags of half-eaten stuff all over the car, or stealthily disposed-of raisins (it's always raisins, isn't it?) in sticky piles under the seats.
The solution, of course, is to find or make a snack mix that contains only stuff that your traveling companions like, and none of the stuff they don't.
Reader Allyson Phelps of South Jordan has one such mix, which takes the notion of trail mix to decadent new heights, and I just had to share her recipe.
But before I do, let me do Allyson justice for a second. In an email, this mother of seven and grandma of one assured me that, 1) everything else she packs for road trips is very healthy; and 2) it's a treat she saves for trips, thus making the treat very occasional — and very much anticipated by Allyson's family, who (she reported) invariably ask, "Do we get trail mix?" when they hear a trip is coming up.
So here it is. I'm reproducing it just like Allyson sent it to me, because it made me laugh — and made me hungry at the same time.
Allyson's Trail Mix
1 bag of plain M&Ms
1 bag of peanut M&Ms
1 bag of peanut butter M&Ms
1 bag of almond M&Ms (ya still with me here?)
2 bags of ranch-style CornNuts
1 large box of Sugar Babies (to slow you down a bit)
Mix everything together and put in individual baggies. Whip those puppies out when you need to reward the very best traveling behavior (and watch your waistline grow a bit, too)!
And just in case you aren't quite as into throwing nutritional caution to the wind as Allyson and me, here's another snack recipe that uses my favorite cereal, MultiGrain Cheerios.
Hearty MultiGrain Snack
1 egg white
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups MultiGrain Cheerios cereal
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
Heat oven to 300° F. Lightly grease cookie sheet.
In large bowl, beat egg white on high speed until foamy; beat in salt. Gradually beat in brown sugar until thick and glossy. Gently stir in cinnamon, cereal and pecans until completely coated. Spread as thinly as possible on cookie sheet.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheet to cold cookie sheet or large pan. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces. Store in airtight container. Makes eight 1/2-cup servings.
Stacey Kratz is a freelance writer who reviews restaurants for the Deseret News.