I may be 80% city girl but I still appreciate the lore – and the lure – of the woods. It’s a long-standing Kellogg tradition that when the men go hunting, the women bake cookies. This year, however, I’m sending the hunters into the woods with Healthy Trail Mix, what some hikers call "gorp" and my own easy blend of nuts and seeds and dried fruit. It’s made healthy by avoiding the “candy in disguise” that granola bars and commercial trail mixes have become and by bulking up the volume with low-sugar Cheerios.
Two weekends ago, the hills of Missouri were awash with the orange of peak autumn foliage. This Saturday, the opening day of deer season, the state will again be awash in orange, this time ‘blaze orange’, the color of safe hunting.
Across Outstate Missouri – that's pretty much everything between St. Louis and Kansas City – hunters have been preparing for this year's hunt since, well, since the close of last year's season.
All year, the stories (most of them true) have been traded and debated: the shots taken and not; the buck sighted along the ridgeline; when and whether to plant clover surrounding a deer stand; the placement of deer blocks; who's coming to deer camp this year; encounters with scoundrel trespassers.
For weeks, shots have rung out, hunters anticipating their shots, sighting their rifles.
For a month, hunters have been watching for deer sign, a scrape in the dirt, a rub on a sapling.
For days, gear has collected by the front door: long underwear; camouflage outerwear; blaze-orange vest and cap; rifles and ammunition; a whetting stone for field dressing.
As early as Thursday, hunters will begin staking out coveted camping spots between wooded areas and harvested cornfields just west of the Mississippi River. The electronic sign outside a bank in northern Missouri reads a welcome, "Hunters! Hot breakfast served Saturday morning. Come on in."
Come Saturday, the hunters will set off Dark Early, fueled by double-strength coffee and weeks of anticipation. Even years when the forecast is for hard-falling rain and snow, there will be no hesitation, no temptation to deviate from lifetimes of hunter tradition.
HEALTHY TRAIL MIX
Time to table: 20 minutes
Makes 10 cups
- 1 cup toasted almond slivers
- 1 cup toasted walnut pieces
- 1 cup toasted coconut
- 1 cup sunflower seeds
- 1 cup pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels)
- Other toasted nuts in 1-cup increments: hazelnuts, cashew pieces, peanuts, macadamia nuts, pistachios, etc.
- 1 cup dried currants
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup golden raisins
- Other dried fruit in 1-cup increments: dried sour cherries, candied ginger, dried apple, dried pear, etc.
- 2 cups Cheerios (or equivalently more Cheerios when adding more nuts and dried fruit)
If needed, toast the almond slivers, walnut pieces and coconut in a 350F oven, using separate baking trays, stirring every 5 minutes, removing each tray as needed. Let cool slightly.
Mix all the ingredients. Package in zip lock bags. Can be frozen but best used within 30 days.
Per Quarter Cup/Per Half Cup/Per Cup: 119/239/477 Calories; 7/15/29g Tot Fat; 2/4/7g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 12/24/47mg Sodium; 12/24/47g Carb; 2/4/8g Fiber; 6/13/26g Sugar; 3/6/12g Protein; Weight Watchers Old Points 2.5/5/11; Points Plus 3/7/13
What Do You Call This Stuff?
I call it "trail mix" but am fascinated to learn that others call it "gorp" which might stand for "good old raisins and peanuts" or "gobs of raw protein". Let me know in the comments!
Fall Color in the Missouri Ozarks
Top - Leaves in the clear water of river in the Missouri Ozarks .
Center - Left, mushrooms at the base of a stump. Center, leaves reflecting on a small lake. Right, bright color in the woods.
Bottom - My dog Lady in the back surveying a field of goldenrod.
More Treats for the Trail
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