The crunch of leaves under your boots and cool temps make fall one of the best times to go hiking. Make sure you’ve packed the right fuel with 5 healthy portable snacks suggested by Stacie Hassing, registered dietitian from The Real Food Dietitians.
Here in Minnesota, the leaves are turning, the air is crisp and nature is calling my name! Fall is a beautiful season, and it’s abundant in opportunities to get outside and connect with nature.
I recently immersed myself in nature with a four-day trip to The North Shore in northeastern Minnesota right along Lake Superior. Along the lake runs the Superior Hiking Trail system, which consists of 300+ miles of trails with amazing views, waterfalls, crystal clear rivers and lakes. My husband and I spent much of our time on the trails, hiking and simply taking in the scenery and what Mother Nature had to offer. It was an amazing and much-needed re-energizing trip. I encourage you to spend a little time each day in the great outdoors and reap all of the benefits of nature.
Today I’m sharing 5 Healthy Portable Hiking Snacks my husband and I packed for our trip that will nourish your body and keep you fueled. But before we get there, I’d like to share a few things I keep in mind when choosing healthy portable snacks:
- It consists of real and wholesome foods. Foods that will nourish your body from the inside out. If you’re purchasing packaged items, I encourage you to read the ingredients and look for minimally processed items without a lot of added sugars and ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- It’s well-balanced and includes a good source of at least two of the three macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats). This will ensure that you’re properly fueled.
- It’s nutrient-dense and compact and won’t take up a lot of room in your pack.
- It’s portable and won’t crumble, bruise or fall apart on the hike.
These snacks are not only great for hiking, they make excellent travel snacks, lunch items, and fuel for winter ski trips, summers at the lake, or pre-workout:
1. DIY Trail Mix – It’s easy to make, portable and includes a healthy source of carbs, proteins and fats. However, not all trail mixes are created equal. Some store-bought trail mixes include more sugar than a candy bar, processed oils, and non-nutritious ingredients. This is why I recommend getting creative and making your own DIY trail mix using high-quality ingredients including raw nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, dark chocolate chunks, natural jerky pieces and no-sugar added dried fruit.
2. Apple Slices + Nut Butter – Apples are a great portable fruit because they hold up nicely and won’t bruise easily or mash in your pack. Simply toss apple slices in lemon juice, place them in a zip-top bag along with a single serving pack of your favorite nut butter and you’ve got yourself a satisfying and delicious snack!
3. Homemade Granola – Similar to DIY Trail Mix, it’s best to make your own or look for one that’s lower in sugar. I recommend less than 5 grams per ¼ cup. Granola is a great source of complex carbs and healthy fats which will help in keeping your energy levels up. I like to mix granola and trail mix together! Here’s a Pumpkin Spice Granola for you to try!
4. Real Food Protein Bar – Protein bars are great options because they’re portable, compact and include a good source of carbs, proteins and fats. Because not all protein bars are created equal, you’ll want to find one that’s made with clean ingredients that nourish your body. You can read about my five go-to protein bars here.
5. Energy Bites – Energy bites are like homemade versions of a protein bar. They make for easy and well-balanced fuel, are fun to make and you know exactly what’s going into them. I also like to include energy bites with my weekend meal preps because they make for the perfect pre-workout snack or afternoon treat with a cup of tea. And as luck would have it, I’m sharing one of my most favorite energy bite recipes with you today!
Pumpkin Trail Mix Energy Bites:
Made with only 7 ingredients including rolled oats, antioxidant rich pumpkin, nuts or seeds and dried fruit, these energy bites are the perfect hiking fuel. If you’re wanting a boost of protein, feel free to add in a scoop or two of your favorite protein powder plus 1-2 Tbsp. additional pumpkin.
Makes 16-20 bites
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup no sugar-added nut or seed butter of choice (such as almond butter or sunflower seed butter)
- 3 Tbsp. honey or maple syrup
- 1 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 3 Tbsp. chopped nuts and/or seeds of choice
- 3 Tbsp. dried fruit of choice (I recommend Made in Nature dried fruit)
- 2 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips (optional)
- In a food processor or blender, combine the rolled oats, pumpkin puree, nut or seed butter, honey and pumpkin spice.
- Pulse until ingredients are just mixed and coming together. You will have to scrape the sides of your food processor or blender throughout this step. Note that some of the oats will remain whole.
- Transfer mixture to a bowl and add in the remaining ingredients. Mix to combine.
- Grease hands with coconut or olive oil and form dough into small round bites. Really press the dough firmly when forming into bites so they hold together well.
- Store energy bites in the refrigerator until ready to eat or pack.
This recipe is also freezer-friendly so if you’d like, double the recipe and freeze half for future snacks and/or hiking fuel.
Do you have a favorite healthy portable snack? Share with us in the comments below!