This is my story about how a 24 mile day-hike inspired the creation of my most favorite trail mix recipe.

Happy trails

Last month, friends and I traveled West to complete the epic Grand Canyon Rim-To-Rim hike and then spent a few days exploring the deserts of Utah. The entire trip was a much needed physical and mental challenge as well as a respite from the stresses of my current world.

The Rim-To-Rim

The Rim-To-Rim is ranked high on the Richter scale of hikes and crossing this magnificent trek off my bucket list was thrilling. The hike itself was jaw-dropping and breathtaking – pure, intoxicating sensory-overload.

We started at the South Rim before sunrise and finished at the North Rim trailhead around 5:00 p.m. In about 11.5 hours, we traversed 24 knee-pounding miles and experienced an elevation change of about 10,500 feet. Let me give you a sense of the Rim-To-Rim’s awesomeness. See the photo on the right? Now look closely and you will notice a little squiggly line off in the distance. This is a section of the North Kaibab Trail, which was the second half and one of the most grueling parts of the trek. My quads are shaking just thinking about it!

I returned to the East Coast with an overpowering feeling and realization that nature undoubtedly can recharge the mind, body and soul. This is a warm sentiment that I will forever keep close to my heart.

A Herculean hike requires a damn good trail mix

Food was essential to my survival during the hike. The food I carried in my pack was fuel for when my energy bonked. I had with me all sorts of salty, fatty and sweet snacks. My backpack was bursting with:

Assorted Dried Fruit (mango, apricots, etc.)

Epic Jerky Bites-Galore (yum)

Honey Stinger Energy Gels (meh)

Justin’s Honey Almond Butter

SaltStick Electrolyte Salt Capsules (game-changers)

Skratch Labs Hydration/Electrolyte Drink Mixes (heaven)

Stinger Energy Chews/Gummies

Tanka Buffalo Bites (delish)


My ultimate superfood trail mix

Which out of all of these provisions was my favorite while crossing the Grand Canyon? My ultimate organic superfood trail mix, of course!*

Yup… that’s right, trail mix. I am not talking about your traditional Girl Scout’s GORP (“Good Old Raisins and Peanuts”), kids. I am talking about a different monster – the quintessential and most gourmet of trail mixes – one that encourages beast mode once consumed.

*Note: ….This was true until I reached the last and most tiring section of the hike. At that point, due to error on my part from stuffing my backpack with too much crap (I had trail mix surplus…probably a few pounds of it), I, with mixed emotions of sadness, happiness and relief, began giving away my enormous ration of trail mix to anyone who would take it. I felt like the fairy trail-mix Godmother….or like Oprah and her most favorite things (YOU get some trail mix, YOU get some trail mix, EVERYBODY gets some trail mix!).

I was relieved when other hikers accepted my “modern-day GORP” gift, because around the 9-hour mark, my pack was feeling less like the small Osprey backpack that it was, and more like a 3,000 pound hippo, awkwardly balancing on my sore shoulders and tired back. Ouch. Lesson learned – go light on the packing next time.

Preparation = succes

To be successful with any nutrition program, you need to have healthy, nutrient-dense foods on standby that do not require preparation and can travel wherever you go. While training for the Rim-To-Rim, I created a superfood trail mix recipe that is still one of my favorite go-to snacks. It is appropriate for all activities, not only extreme day hiking.

As I hinted before, this trail mix is an animal. Its highly nutritious superfruits, nuts and seeds along with antioxidant-rich cacao nibs provide a boost of nourishment any time of the day and can push you through mid-day energy crashes and strenuous activities.

This trail mix is great for


Camping trips

Cruising around town


Fishing excursions



Road trips


Travel (great go-to snack in airports and on planes)


The recipe

Here is my recipe:

The Ultimate Organic Superfood Trail Mix


Prep time

10 mins

Total time

10 mins

This trail mix is a beast. Its highly nutritious superfruits, nuts and seeds along with antioxidant-rich cacao nibs provide a boost of nourishment any time of the day and can push you through mid-day energy crashes and strenuous activities.

Author: Jennifer Regan / Bamboo Core Fitness

Recipe type: Snack


1 cup raw goji berries

1 cup raw goldenberries

1 cup raw dried mulberries

¼ cup raw unsweetened cacao nibs

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup raw cashews or macadamia nuts

1 cup raw shelled pistachios

1 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1 cup raw sunflower seeds

½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes

1 cup raw walnuts (optional)

1 cup raisins or unsweetened cranberries (optional)

¼ cup dehydrated banana (optional)


Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl.

Mix thoroughly.

Place in airtight, glass containers or Ziplock bags.

Store in a cool, dark place.


- Use organic ingredients whenever possible.
- Eat this trail mix by itself or combine it with other foods to make a healthy meal or tasty treat.


Get your snack on

Eat this bad-ass trail mix straight-up as a snack. Pack and store it in ziplock bags or tupperware. Take it wherever you go, but be careful. If you are the type of person who will mindlessly nosh his/her way through an enormous bag of trail mix, be sure to toss the super fruits, nuts and seeds into smaller, individual serving-size containers.

Combine with other foods

Fuse this trail mix with other foods to make a healthy meal or tasty treat. For a guaranteed energy boost, incorporate it into:

Almond butter

Baked goods (cookies, muffins, etc.)


Fruit breakfast bowls


Hot and cold cereals






…and create something like this. Below is a breakfast bowl I made by combining trail mix with strawberries, blueberries, bananas and apples. I then topped it with creamy, smooth almond butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon (not pictured). It is like heaven in a bowl; happiness for your belly and is such a great way to start the day!

What’s so special about a bunch of fruits, nuts and seeds?

This combination of super fruits, nuts and seeds provides a burst of nutritional goodness, supports your daily intake of key nutrients, and tastes good! The trail mix has an all-star micronutrient lineup of:

Amino acids


Beta carotene (Vitamin A)


Dietary fiber



Omega fatty acids




Vitamin B

Vitamin C

Vitamin E

Let’s dive a litter deeper. Continue reading to learn more about the health benefits of the superfruits found in this yummy snack.

Goji berries

The goji berry is also known as:

Lycium barbarum

Fructus lycii

Wolf berry

Used in Asian herbal medicine for over 6,000 years to promote longevity and treat illnesses ranging from liver damage to poor circulation, the goji berry is considered to be one of the most nutrient-rich foods on earth.

Goji berries are packed with essential amino acids and antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids.

Gojis also contain Vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, C and E.

More nutrition facts about goji berries

One serving (1 ounce/28g) of dried goji berries contains 11 essential vitamins and 21 trace minerals, as well as:

100 calories

4 grams of protein

4% of our recommended daily value (DV) of calcium

9% DV of potassium

10% DV of iron

12% DV of dietary fiber

20% DV of Vitamin C

140% DV of Vitamin A

Goji berries have a high Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score of 3,290, which shows that they contain larger concentrations of antioxidants than many other fruits. High levels of antioxidants guard against degenerative diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

Containing approximately 500 times more Vitamin C per-weight than an orange, these berries are great for the immune system.

Goji berries possess more Vitamin A (beta-carotene) per-weight than carrots and more iron than spinach.

They contain high levels of the carotenoid, zeaxanthin, which is thought to improve eye health. In one study, goji berries were found to reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

Goji berries are low in calories and contain 8 polysaccharides, which are primary sources of dietary fiber. This enhances digestion and promotes weight loss.

These berries contain 4 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Note: According to WebMD, anyone who uses blood thinners (like Warfaran/Coumadin), takes diabetic medication, or is allergic to pollen and/or nightshades may experience a negative reaction from eating goji berries.

Taste and texture

Dried goji berries are deep red in color and have a soft, chewy texture.

They have a mild, tangy taste that is slightly bitter with a sweet berry aftertaste.

Some describe gojis as having a unique flavor reminiscent of a cross between dried cherries, cranberries and raisins.

Where to buy

You can find dried goji berries at Chinese herbal shops, select health food stores and markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

I use Navitas Naturals Organic Sun-Dried Goji Berries in my trail mixes. To purchase Navitas Naturals online, click one of the links below:

Navitas Naturals Organic Goji Berries, 1 Pound Pouches

Or register free for Thrive Market, an online store offering best-selling natural and organic products at wholesale prices. After registering, you will receive 15% off your first purchase, be given the option to start a free 30-day trial membership, and if you like what you see, you can join the community to save 25-50% off all goods (food, home, personal care, beauty and supplements) – superfruits included. I do a lot of my shopping through the Thrive Market website and have saved a lot of money on my pantry staples!


The golden berry is also known as:

Amour en cage (French for “love in a cage”)

Aztec berry

Cape goose berry (when fresh)

Giant ground cherry

Husk cherry

Incan berry (when dried)

“Lost Incan Crop”Uchuva

Peruvian cherry

Physalis peruviana


Poha berry

Goldenberries are South American super fruits that are loaded with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants/flavonoids.

The fresh golden berry fruit is the size of a marble, resembles a miniature spherical yellow tomato, and is closely related to the tomatillo.

Used for many years in traditional folk medicine practices, goldenberries are believed to help maintain a healthy weight, prevent cellular aging, boost immunity and improve organ function.

They contain Vitamins A, C, E, K1, B1, B2, and B3, fatty acids, phytosterols and are a good source of dietary fiber.

Trace amounts of calcium and iron are also found in goldenberries.

More nutrition facts about goldenberries

One serving (1 ounce/28g) of dried goldenberries contains:

80 calories

2 grams of protein

4% DV of Vitamin C

6% DV of iron

14% DV of potassium

24% DV of dietary fiber

25% DV of Vitamin A

Goldenberries have a total antioxidant activity (IC50 :0.81 μ g/ml) close to that of Vitamin C (IC50 : 0.89 μ g/ml).

They are one of the most abundant sources of Vitamin C available among all fruits and plants. Their Vitamin C levels reach as much as 20 times of that found in an orange.

Goldenberries are a great source of Vitamin A (beta carotene).

Some health experts believe goldenberries are anti-diabetic fruits. Goldenberries aid in reducing sugar levels in the blood and stimulating hormones that secrete insulin in diabetic patients. They contain linoleic and oleic acid, two essential fatty acids that aid in insulin sensitivity and fat oxidation.

Goldenberries are low in calories.

One serving of goldenberries provides a healthy dose of dietary fiber, pectin, protein and phosphorous.

Goldenberries contain 2 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Taste and texture

Dried goldenberries have a soft, wrinkly, thick-skinned exterior that is yellow/orange in color.

The inside is chewy and somewhat seedy like a tomato.

Goldenberries possess a unique and robust mouth-puckering flavor that is slightly sweet and very tangy/tart.

Some believe the taste of goldenberries is reminiscent of citrus sweet-and-sour candy (“Nature’s Sour Patch Kids”).

Where to buy

You can find dried goldenberries at Chinese herbal shops, select health food stores and markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

I use Navitas Naturals Vine-Ripened Goldenberries in my trail mixes. To purchase Navitas Naturals online, click one of the links below:

Navitas Naturals Organic Goldenberries, 8-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 2)

Or purchase via Thrive Market, the online store I mentioned earlier that offers natural and organic products at wholesale prices.

Note: Goldenberries are members of the nightshade family. If you have an allergy to nightshades, stay away.


Mulberries are ancient superfruits native to the Morus genus of trees that are found in many parts of the world. Mulberries originated in the Far East, traveling along the Silk Road from China to Turkey.

There are 24 species of mulberry trees and the most commonly grown species are:

Black (Morus nigra); native to western Asia

Red (Morus rubra); American mulberry; native to eastern United States

White (Morus alba); native to eastern and central China

Traditionally, mulberry trees are grown in Asia and North America for their leaves, as they are the only food that silkworms can eat.

Mulberries are in the same family (Moraceae) as figs but fresh mulberries look similar to blackberries.

These berries are an excellent source of nutrients including iron, calcium, Vitamin C, protein, dietary fiber and antioxidants.

Chinese herbal medicine has used mulberry trees for thousands of years to treat ailments like diabetes, heart disease, anemia and arthritis.

More nutrition facts about mulberries

One serving (1 ounce/28g) of dried mulberries contains:

90 calories

3 grams of protein

2% DV of Vitamin A

8% DV of calcium

16% DV of dietary fiber

20% DV of iron

130% DV of Vitamin C

Mulberries contain alkaloids that activate macrophages, which are white blood cells that help to stimulate the immune system.

Some studies have shown that Mulberries contain compounds that aid in balancing blood sugar levels within the body.

Animal studies show that mulberries and mulberry extracts can reduce excess fat and lower cholesterol levels within the body.

Mulberries have high amounts of flavonoid phytochemicals called anthocyanins. The consumption of anthocyanins can help protect against cancer, aging, neurological diseases, inflammation, diabetes and bacterial infections.

These berries contain resveratrol, another powerful flavonoid antioxidant. Resveratrol has been shown to promote longevity and protect against strokes.

Mulberries contain 3 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Note: Mulberry allergies are rare, but individuals sensitive to birch pollen may experience allergic reactions to mulberries.

Taste and texture

Dried mulberries are light tan in color and have a bumpy exterior.

They have a chewy texture, earthy flavor and a sweet aftertaste.

Some say mulberries are similar to a dried fig in flavor.

Where to buy

You can find dried mulberries at Chinese herbal shops, select health food stores and markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

I use Navitas Naturals Sun-Dried White Mulberries in my trail mixes. To purchase Navitas Naturals online, click one of the links below:

Navitas Naturals Organic Mulberries, 4-Ounce Pouches

Or purchase via Thrive Market, the online store I mentioned earlier that offers natural and organic products at wholesale prices.

Raw cacao nibs

The health properties of raw cacao have been enjoyed for thousands of years.

Cacao beans come from Theobroma cacao trees which grow in the Amazon Basin, Orinoco River Basin, Ghana, Brazil, Philippines, Ecuador, Papua New Guinea, Togo and and seven Caribbean countries.

The cacao tree grows to be 10-30 feet in height and bears fruits four years after planting. The fruits of the cacao tree are called cacao pods. Each pod weighs about one pound and contains several cacao beans.

The word cacao originates from the Olmec people (first major civilization in Mexico).

Raw cacao is chocolate in its purest form, before other ingredients have been added.

Raw cacao nibs come from cacao beans that have been harvested, dried, dehulled, fermented and chopped into very small pieces.

Cacao is considered to be one of nature’s most nutritionally complex foods, as it is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals (iron and magnesium) and dietary fiber.

More nutrition facts about raw cacao nibs

One ounce (28g) of raw cacao nibs contains:

130 calories

4 grams of protein

2% DV of calcium

5% DV of potassium

8% DV of iron

16% DV of magnesium

36% DV of dietary fiber

Raw cacao is considered to be one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet.

Raw cacao is also naturally rich in powerful chemical alkaloids including anandamide, phenethylamine and theobromine.

Anandamide, a lipid, is also known as “the bliss molecule” because its natural molecular shape represents that of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Anandamide has been associated with improving motivation and increasing pleasure.

Phenylethylamine (PEA) is an adrenal-related chemical that our bodies naturally produce. We make PEA when we are excited. It causes the pulse to quicken, and helps us to feel focused and alert.

Theobromine is a nervous system stimulant which makes up two percent of the cacao bean and is in the same molecular class as caffeine (but 10 times weaker). Theobromine is what makes cacao and chocolate unsafe for dogs, and some people find that it affects them the way caffeine might.

The combination of phenylethylamine and theobromine in cacao has been linked to increasing serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain which helps to induce feelings of well being, boost cognitive abilities, and decrease appetite.

Cacao beans are one of the best dietary sources of magnesium, a mineral responsible for over 300 biochemical reactions in our bodies – many related to muscle, nerve and cardiac function.

With 9 grams of fiber in one ounce, cacao nibs support digestive health.

Cacao nibs are good sources of iron, which is necessary for red blood cell production.

Cacao nibs contain 4 grams of plant-based protein per serving.

Note: Raw cacao may present negative side effects for some individuals.

Cacao can be addictive. Some health experts suggest that cacao may be one of the most addictive substances in the world.

Raw cacao acts as a stimulant, which can negatively affect sleep and/or agitate kidneys and/or adrenal glands.

Overconsumption of raw cacao leads to high levels of theobromine within the body, which can negatively affect the body’s central nervous system and may lead to a variety of health conditions including depression, insomnia, nightmares, tremors, restlessness, anxiety, heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, mood swings and paranoia.

In mega doses (40 beans or more), raw cacao may act as a hallucinogen and can cause reactions similar to that of the psychedelic drug, LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide).

Taste and texture

Raw cacao nibs have a dark brown color with a texture similar to that of roasted coffee beans. They are crunchy and hard with a fibrous grit.

They have a strong scent and an acquired taste. Cacao’s flavor is very intense and is a cross between raw dark chocolate and a coffee bean.

Cacao nibs have an extremely bitter aftertaste similar to baking chocolate.

The flavor initially gives you a strong, cocoa and nutty hit and then a bitter, winey fermented flavor that is difficult to describe.

Where to buy

You can find raw cacao nibs at Chinese herbal shops, select health food stores and markets like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.

I use Navitas Naturals Raw Cacao Nibs in my trail mixes. To purchase Navitas Naturals online, click one of the links below:

Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Cacao Nibs, 16-Ounce Pouches (Pack of 2)

Or purchase via Thrive Market, the online store I mentioned earlier that offers natural and organic products at wholesale prices.


I am grateful that my Rim-To-Rim hike spurred inspiration for creating this awesome kick-ass treat. If you are looking for a healthy and yummy superfood boost, you need to make this ultimate trail mix. It may be a bit pricey compared to a traditional trail mix, but it is well worth the money. Packed with potent antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, it will power you through any activity or meal

Don’t be afraid to play with the recipe – omit less desirable ingredients or add ones that titillate your taste buds.


Please share your thoughts by commenting below this post. As always, I would love to hear (and learn) from you!

Photo credits

Jennifer Regan, Bamboo Core Fitness

www.pilgrimhealth.com (dried goji berries in bowl)

www.bokusuperfood.com (dried goldenberries)

www.fuguestock.deviantart.com (dried mulberries)

www.barefootprovisions.com (cacao nibs in bowl)


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