Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Goji Berry Trail Mix

I love the sense of accomplishment I feel after a hike.  Sometimes the climb is slow and gradual.  Other times it's more intense and grueling.  It doesn't feel much like exercising.  Sure I can feel my heart pumping and my body warming, but it's a sensation I welcome.  It's one I'll take over the elliptical at the gym any day, especially come spring.  The elliptical kind of makes me want to poke my eyes out.  I step on and cover the 'time to completion' countdown with a magazine.  I push like a robot and go nowhere, thinking only a fool would work up a sweat and remain in place.  I can't help but peek under the magazine, over and over, convinced it N-E-V-E-R moves.  Everyone around me is huffing and puffing, increasing their resistance, battling the road to nowhere.

This doesn't exist on a hike.  I never look at the time and the only music I need is the soundtrack nature provides.  Best of all, I'm moving forward.  I can see where I'm going and where I've been.  This is progress.  It's relaxing and invigorating all at once.  Yager is always by my side, so we of course stop and smell everything.  And while we're at it, decide to pee on everything too...he, not I.  Sometimes my dog looks as if he's walking around on three legs.  I always get a kick out of him. 

I thought I'd share a new snack I've been packing for our recent adventures.  Many of you seemed to like this one from the last time.  Are you familiar with goji berries?  I'd describe them as a cross between a cranberry and cherry, somewhat tart and slightly sweet.  I've been eating them by the handful and tossing them into my muesli for breakfast.  You can purchase goji berries in their dried form in health food stores, but be prepared for a little sticker shock.  I think they're worth the occasional splurge.  I pulled out one of my favorite resources, David Grotto's, 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, to learn a little more.  Here's what I found.

~Goji berries are indigenous to Tibetan and Mongolian regions
~Have a long history in Chinese and Eastern medicine, used to treat inflammations, skin irritations, nosebleeds, aches, and pains.
~Are recommended for sharp eyesight, healthy liver function, and to improve circulation.
~Studies found goji fruit extracts significantly reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol and raised HDL (good) cholesterol
~Are filled with powerful antioxidants that may help prevent cancer and other illnesses, including heart disease
~Are rich in vitamin A

Not too shabby for a little berry, eh?  I feel pretty good about all this snacking.  Trail mix is the best kind of snack really.  It has variety, crunch, and sweetness.  I was always a fan of the classic peanut, pretzel, and M&M version, but thought it was time for a healthier makeover.  This version is pretty alluring and packs a wallop of antioxidants and protein.  Purchasing the ingredients separately, as opposed to buying pre packaged trail mix, gives you more bang for your buck.  Besides, it's more fun designing your own.  I pack bags for hiking and send some off with Donny and his friends when they go fishing.  The rest is stored in small glass containers on my counter and never lasts very long.  I hope I've convinced you to try some goji berries, or at the very least, to step outside and get lost in the sniffing process.  

~Goji Berry Trail Mix Recipe~

1 cup almonds
1 cup walnuts
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup goji berries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup raisins

Mix ingredients together with your hands or in a large bowl.  Transfer to an airtight container or individual bags for traveling.  Makes plenty for sharing.  Serves a crowd.


Eileen said...

Yes, outside exercise beats the gym hands down! I always feel like I'm really getting things done when I'm hiking (or, more likely in my case, biking) around outside. It's just much more mental stimulation--and I actually get somewhere! The elliptical has nothing on that experience. This trail mix combination looks great--definitely full of all the fuel you need to climb that mountain. :)

Clair said...

I TOTALLY agree with this! I wish I could live in the city, but still have a mountain in my backyard for hiking. It's hard to imagine I'd ever get sick of it. I love the gym, but I cannot do the elliptical. I have to do something that moves me from place to place...usually weights.

Trail mix sounds delicious...I have a weird taste for goji berries...they're so good, but I can only have a few before they're too tangy for me!

Sue/the view from great island said...

I didn't have a clue what a goji berry was, they add great color to the trail mix. I love cherries, so I have to try, great post!

Margarita said...

Oh boy, I agree with you... I love exercising (although I haven't now for a week due to being so sick) and work out pretty much every day. I have a gym that I go to for weights and yoga class. A couple years ago, I did all the classes and my favorite was the spin class. But after I bought my bike I realized how ridiculous it was to be riding indoors and competing with everyone else while NOT GETTING ANYWHERE. Sure it was a great workout and there was camaraderie, but when I asked others if they biked they said they don't own bikes, and even the instructor said she doesn't bike because she's scared. It made me so sad and I never stepped in another class again. Hiking is definitely one of my most favorite adventure trips... nothing beats it. You can go fast and make it a real workout or just slow down and explore every little thing you see. Love it! These trail mix snackies look awesome! Trail mix is one of my favorites!

Pencil Kitchen said...

I would be the last person you want with when hiking. I stop about 10 times each hour to get my snacks. Anyway, Goji has always been something i hated since young. Its used in most chinese medicinal drinks/soups. But as i grow up, I realize goji on its own is sweet and nice.

Thyme (Sarah) said...

I've heard of goji berries off and on. I'd love to see what they look like in the wild. We used to hike all the time when we lived in Michigan. Our favorite was hiking through Glacier National Park for 10 days. Here in TX, I don't even feel like going outside much right now. Luckily, my son and I are enjoying playing tennis but we are drenched by the time we play for 30 min. or so....