Healthy Trail Mix (GORP)

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 a DIY Healthy Trail Mix, what some hikers call "gorp" and my own easy blend of nuts and seeds and dried fruit. It’s a portable snack 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.

Make-Ahead Portable Snack for Hikers, Hunters & Road Trips. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Great for Meal Prep.
Healthy Trail Mix, another DIY portable snack for hikers, hunters and road trips ♥, a healthy mix of nuts and dried fruit, bulked up with low-sugar Cheerios. Vegan. Great for Meal Prep.

Preparing for the Opening of Deer Season

Fall Color in the Missouri Ozarks

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.

Trail Mix? GORP? What Do You Call This Easy, Portable Snack?

Healthy Trail Mix, another DIY portable snack for hikers, hunters and road trips ♥, a healthy mix of nuts and dried fruit, bulked up with low-sugar Cheerios. Vegan. Great for Meal Prep.

Me, I call a mix of nuts, seeds and dried fruit "trail mix".

But I'm fascinated to learn that others call it "gorp". Such a funny word, gorp. It's not obvious but gorp just might be an acronym for either "good old raisins and peanuts" or "gobs of raw protein".

So what do you call this stuff? Let me know in the comments!

Is There Such a Thing As Healthy DIY Trail Mix?

Healthy Trail Mix, another DIY portable snack for hikers, hunters and road trips ♥, a healthy mix of nuts and dried fruit, bulked up with low-sugar Cheerios. Vegan. Great for Meal Prep.

So what makes Healthy Trail Mix, well, healthy? Look at the nutrition label on a small packet of commercial trail mix and your eyes might just widen. No doubt, it's easy for the calories to add up when making and eating trail mix. That's because nuts, seeds and dried fruit are the main ingredients and these are what we call "nutrient dense" – that means nutrients and calories are packed into just a small volume.

That density is really useful for a backpacker, say, because the ratio of calories:weight is so high: lots of calories without demanding much room or weight for the backpack!

But I think that a healthy trail mix can also be a boon to those of us who watch calories. That's because there are times when it's a good thing to get a maximum of calories with a minimum of volume. Think of times when you're feeling super full (the day after a big holiday dinner, say) but need to eat something (to keep your sugars level). That's when something like trail mix works really well.

Here's how I build a healthy trail mix whether for hikers, hunters, road trippers and even calorie watchers.

  • NUTS & SEEDS are real-food nutritional powerhouses, filled with protein and healthy fats. They're minimally processed, maybe roasting for added flavor, maybe salt for flavor. For variety, I use a few different nuts and seeds.
  • DRIED FRUIT add a little sweetness to trail mix. At their most basic form, dried fruits are minimall processed, just fresh fruit, dried. But do know, most dried fruits are actually sweetened with added sugar and some are coated in oil to keep them from sticking together. One sugar exception? Dried apricots! They're big, you'll want to snip them into pieces.
  • FILLER FOR BULK To counteract the nutrient density, I like to add a bulky "filler" to trail mix with something that has bulk but is low in calories and sugar. My favorite is cheerios! I think the bulk filler is important in trail mix, especially for hunters, since its purpose is as much for breaking the tedium of sitting in a deer stand as for actual nutrition.
  • ZERO CANDY OR MINIMAL CANDY Store-bought trail mixes are heavy on cheap sugars. I leave candy out entirely or add just a tiny bit, enough to keep somebody with a sweet tooth a little bit happy!

So yes, a DIY trail mix can be healthy, just use the healthiest ingredients, knowing that "healthy" doesn't always mean "low calorie".


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Makes 10 cups
  • 1 cup toasted almond slivers
  • 1 cup toasted walnut pieces
  • 1 cup toasted unsweetened 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., optional
  • 1 cup dried currants
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup golden raisins
  • Other dried fruit in 1-cup increments: dried apricot, dried sour cherries, candied ginger, dried apple, dried pear, etc., snipped small, optional
  • 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/180C 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.

ALANNA’s TIPS Trail mix serves as much to battle the tedium of the silent wait as to gird against damp cold and heavy exertion. That's why it's important to supplement the dense calories of nuts and dried fruit with a light but bulky and low-sugar food. Cheerios work great but so would popcorn. For a hunter surprise, I tuck a few M&Ms into the trail mix bags, too, but just 10 per cup. Yes, I count, otherwise one bag will get all the M&Ms, another will none. The St. Louis Trader Joe’s stores make only a half-hearted attempt at produce but more than compensate with the selection and prices for dried fruit and nuts. Especially at Christmas, the pre-toasted walnuts, pecans and almonds are a much-appreciated timesaver.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Half Cup: 237 Calories; 15g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 23mg Sodium; 19g Carb; 4g Fiber; 10g Sugar; 9g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS Old Points 5 & PointsPlus 6 & SmartPoints 8 & Freestyle 8 & MyWW Green 8 & Blue 8 & Purple 8

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(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

~ nuts ~
~ dried fruit ~
~ coconut ~
~ sunflower seeds ~

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I didn't know what GORP was until like 3 months ago. Isn't that crazy?!

  2. You didn’t use goldfish? When my granddaughter and I make it, we always use goldfish! The itty bitty ones, of different colors, work best.

  3. It is definitely not gorp unless it is 50% chocolate chips. Because gorp (as I know it at least) is only used for cross country skiing at 10 below (C) or more, there are no worries about melt! But this looks great and I have saved it for my kayak trips next summer!!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna