All of the yummy “Everything but the Bagel” flavor with a cleaner oil and no corn syrup! Copycat that Trader Joe’s® Nut Duo for your own pantry!
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A Trader Joe’s® trip, and a fun, new snack!
Every first of the month, a couple of friends of mine and I hop in the car and head out for our monthly Costco and Trader Joe’s trip! We live a good 45 minute drive from the closest of either of these stores, so we make a morning of it once a month, and try to stock up until the next month. I am not a huge TJ’s shopper – I’ll grab a couple things here or there, but every once and a while I’ll find a fun snack, and this month was one of them. I was cautiously hopeful as I turned the bag of the TJ’s “Everything But The Bagel” Nut Duo to check out the ingredients…because my usual disappointment with these kind of stores, and these kind of snacks, is that the oils used are junk, and there is usually added sugar. This one checked both of those disappointing boxes, and I set the bag back down. I couldn’t stop thinking about the fun flavor that those nuts could be though….
A new kitchen experiment!
While I continued my shopping, I passed the spice isle, and decided to grab the “Everything but the Bagel” seasoning, and just try to make my own. Trail mixes are so easy to put together, and while the convenience of grabbing a bag off the shelf is always nice, making my own would save the budget *big-time* (because these specialty items are always over-priced), and I could also add a healthy snack to our pantry rotation on a regular basis instead of just once, because the ingredients are fantastic when you make it at home!
Why do food companies use these ingredients, and why do we want to avoid them?
Cheap and readily available. It really boils down to the dollar bill. Cheap oils like sunflower, soy, and safflower oils, as well as sweeteners like corn syrup are so cheap and easy to get, that it really hits the bottom line for these companies in a good way for their profits. When it comes to sweeteners, corn syrup is as cheap as it gets, and it tastes super sweet, so they don’t need to add a lot to make it super palatable to people. Corn syrup sky rockets blood sugar even more than table sugar, and is almost always GMO, so it is just really important to avoid if you can. Sunflower oil “looks” healthy – I mean sunflower seeds are healthy right?! But the way these seed and veg oils are processed makes them super unstable on the shelf, and they go rancid so quickly. When we eat these kind of rancid oils on a regular basis, it causes a lot of inflammation in the body. Free radicals fly everywhere and it inflames. (One caveat to this, would be if you see a truly cold-pressed – sometimes called expeller pressed – sunflower oil. The cold pressed process on the sunflower oil keeps the integrity of the fats so they don’t go rancid – this is very hard to find in products though!)
So how do we replace the bad stuff, and still get a yummy product?
It is so much easier than you think! Swap the sunflower oil for a healthier oil, and swap the “sweet” for a more natural sweetener (or leave it out). In the case of this nut trail mix, the oil part was easy. I almost always use coconut oil for my trail mixes because it is so good for our bodies, and it doesn’t change the flavor to us. If you are really sensitive to the flavor of coconut, you might want to use butter or avocado oil. Even a good olive oil would be fine for this recipe. As far as swapping the corn syrup, I tried the recipe without a sweetener at first, because I figured it was a savory snack, and didn’t need it. I was right on the flavor, BUT there is something the corn syrup did for the TJ’s snack that was lacking in my first attempt. The stick factor!
How to get that crunchy “stick” to the trail mix
Because the “Everything But the Bagel” Seasoning is larger pieces, you really need a way to get it to stick to the nuts, or it just ends up in a pile on the sheet pan. Most trail mixes that need to make a “candy like” crunch coating use egg whites. And you could totally do that and leave the sweetener out in this recipe if you want. BUT…I have so many egg free readers, and I really wanted to figure out a way to make this without the egg whites. I tried coconut sugar to start, since it has a lower glycemic index, but the candy like coating did not happen, so the seasoning fell to the bottom of the pan. Then I remembered that the secret to the crunchy coating on my Coconut Cluster recipe was maple syrup, so I tried that…success! It’s really just a couple of tablespoons for the whole batch, and I’d say that is totally worth it!
Egg white method
The trail mix can be made without the maple syrup, but the seasoning does not stick to the nuts very well in my experience. It is worth the stick to have that little crunch and flavor together! If you need it to be sugar free, and can have eggs, you can swap the maple syrup for 1 whisked egg white, and that will accomplish the same thing. I have so many egg free readers though, so I had to figure out a way to make this without the whites! If you can have eggs, the egg whites is a great way to get the seasoning to stick without using maple syrup.
Can I use any nut combo, or swap for seeds?
Absolutely! The Trader Joe’s® “Nut Duo” uses almonds and cashews, so that is what I used – but please use whatever nuts you have in your pantry. And I would actually encourage switching the combo up every time you make it, so that you are getting different nut or seed nutrients! If you are nut free, use pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp, etc! I really think it would be a fun mix to change things up for you!
Copycat Trader Joe’s® Everything But the Bagel Nut Duo!
- Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In a medium mixing bowl, toss all of the ingredients together until well combined.
- Spread the mixture out onto a large, unlined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 325 degrees. Take the sheet pan out, stir the mixture around, and bake another 10 minutes until the nuts are fragrant and lightly toasted.
- Leave the trail mix to cool completely before touching it. The maple syrup will cool and harden, sticking the seasonings to the nuts. Once the trail mix has cooled, you can store it in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 2 months.
- I used the Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel seasoning, but you can find that blend just about anywhere now, and there are lots of homemade, DIY blend recipes online that you can find on Pinterest! Use what you can find or what is available to you.
- The trail mix can be made without the maple syrup, but the seasoning does not stick to the nuts very well in my experience. It is worth the stick to have that little crunch and flavor together! If you need it to be sugar free, and can have eggs, you can swap the maple syrup for 1 whisked egg white, and that will accomplish the same thing. I have so many egg free readers though, so I had to figure out a way to make this without the whites!
- You can swap the coconut oil for melted butter, avocado oil, or olive oil if you prefer that, or have that on hand.
- My Everything But the Bagel Seasoning did have some salt added to it. Since the nuts are unsalted, I found the mix still needed some salt, which is why there is salt in the recipe. If you use a different brand of Everything Bagel seasoning, just be sure to account for this, and if yours does not have salt added, you may want to adjust the salt amount.