Monday, August 16, 2010

Fruit Leather Recipes

I feel kind of silly making a fruit leather recipe post because it's pretty simple, but if you haven't made them before, you may want to learn how.

Basically, you whip up some fruit in the blender, spread it out to dry, then tear it apart and eat!  I did skip a few steps in the drying, but I'll spell those out below.

I'm not making fruit leather will work on those round white dehydrators.  I've never had one, but all my friends who have tried with wax paper, haven't been successful.  I have an Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator with Teflex sheets (which are big slippery sheets of something that goes on top of each tray whenever you want to dehydrate something that could slip through the little holes in the trays which are like clear plastic mesh).  Now they call the Teflex sheets Paraflex.  They look just the same.  The only things I use the Teflex sheets for are crackers (because they start out liquid-y and need to be spread out) and fruit leather.  Maybe I'll discover another need later on.

I just made several sheets of fruit leather a week ago.  I tried the following combinations:

Mango (just sliced and blended alone)

Mango & Banana (1/2 and 1/2 blended)

Peach (blended alone)

Peach and Plum (2/3 and 1/3)

Plum and Frozen Strawberries (1/2 and 1/2)

Plum, Frozen Strawberries, and Frozen Triple Berry Blend (1/4, 1/4, 1/2)

Out of all of them, I'd say the Peach is my very favorite, followed by Peach/Plum.  I really love dried mangoes (just mine, not the ones from the store), but they're really chewy and hard to eat unless you just let them melt in your mouth.  So I thought the mango leather would be fabulous.  I was really disappointed when it came warm out of the dehydrator.  BUT, a few days later when I tried it again, it was pretty tasty.  Perhaps the flavor just had to sit for a bit.  I don't know.

They were all good.  The only one I need to identify and throw out is one of the last triple berry blend.  Two of those turned out fine.  They're really tart, but good.  One of the sheets must have had overripe fermenting plums because it tasted like alcohol and wasn't so good.  I did throw in some super ripe plums, but tested many of them as I went.  I must have either missed the ripest or maybe it fermented more in the drying process.  I know whenever I'd put kiwi in my fruit leather, it ferments and ruins the taste of the leather.

So here are the steps more formally written:

Fruit Leather

Puree fruit of your choice in the blender

Pour fruit puree onto Teflex or Paraflex sheet (on top of dehydrator tray).  Spread with spatula if it doesn't look even.  (I was surprised that I barely needed the spatula).

Put tray in the dehydrator.

Makes as many as you can at once to make good use of your energy.

Set temperature to just under 110 degrees -- I usually shoot for 106-108.  

Let dehydrate all day or overnight. 

Check fruit leather to see if it's dry on top.  If it is, flip the Teflex sheet over onto the dehydrator tray and start peeling the Teflex sheet off.  If the leather is sticking too much or is too moist underneath, let dry longer.  If it's dry enough, take the Teflex sheet completely off and set the moist side up with the dry side down on the tray.

Put tray back in dehydrator and let dry for a few more hours.

Once completely dry, take out the fruit leather, tear into smaller rectangles and roll up.  

Put rolled leather in zip loc bags or start eating right away! 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Giving up the extras in our lives

Now I realize that it's not very minimalistic of me to post twice in one day, but I just have to share this other blog for minimizing the craziness and clutter in our lives.  It's called :mnmlist and it simply has one post on the whole page each time you log on.  At first I was thinking, "Where are all the other posts?" and kind of felt like I was in that Mike TV scene on Willy Wonka because it was all white and empty.  But now I get it. 

One post that I love is on giving up the extras in our lives.  Everyone has their limits to be sure, but how reasonable are our limits of how much we think we need to keep in our lives?  I'm pondering this right now because we're going to move again in the next month or so (maybe even in a few weeks -- life's a little up in the air right now) and I don't want to pack or lift a single box that is not necessary to our lives. That's quite a lofty goal, but I'm up for the task.

Here's the article  'I Could Never Give Up'

I just re-read it.  He even runs barefoot?  Wow!  

The author states on his blog that we can feel free to copy his posts, so I'm going to share his recommendations for having less.  I need to print this out as I pack and weed through our stuff.  Apparently weeding through once and my few trips to the thrift store aren't enough.  But I already knew that.

mnmlist : less

Stop buying unnecessary things.
Toss half your stuff, learn contentedness.
Reduce half again.
List 4 essential things in your life,
stop doing non-essential things.
Do these essentials first each day, clear distractions
focus on each moment.
Let go of attachment to doing, having more.
Fall in love with less.

Minimalists Unite!

I attended a workshop on organization at the Holistic LDS Conference in Salt Lake City (well, actually South Jordan), Utah in June.  It was the last class I'd signed up for and I kept looking at my schedule during the previous workshops, wondering if I should switch last minute and take another class on eating or herbs.  I knew about organization, even though I'm not always up on it

The class description was this: 

Simple Freedom 

All the STUFF that is constantly moving in and out of our lives can either create contentment or contention. Learn how to simplify the clutter in your physical space and your mind so you have room to create the life you truly desire.  (Presenter -- Lara Gallagher)

I decided to just go and see what I thought.  Simplifying and reducing is one of my mantras, so I wanted to see her take on it.  I'm glad I did.  Lara calls herself a minimalist.  She said that the goal is to live as if she is in poverty, but not to live in poverty.  So she lives with as little as possible to keep her life simple and free.  I like that as she gets rid of things, she also strives to get rid of the storage containers they come in.  I've been doing that a bit too -- why do I need so many containers or shelves if I manage to get rid of what goes on or in them?

Lara has recently decided to minimize her computer time and stop blogging, but she has plenty of articles that she's already written that I plan to read through and learn from.  I particularly like this one about Simple Meals.   My approach to simple meals these past few years has been just to forget about having meal time all together.  I rarely make dinner for our family.  If we do, it's just baked potatoes or cut up fruit or something.  But Lara's ideas seem to teach her children more variety and gives them more nutrients (as well as more time at the table together).  She defines their eating ways as Flexi-Vegan, which is vegan most of the time.  I've never heard of that term before, but that pretty much typifies me and most of my family too.  (Still have a few die-hard milk drinkers).

Lara's main page for her blog is here -- The Lazy Organizer


P.S. (I found a picture to post that says "Minimalist" and it was really quite cute, but in the effort to minimize, I decided to just do without a picture this time.  Ta da!)  

Saturday, August 7, 2010

If the world changed, would you stop having excuses?

I don't know why I think about food so much, but today I was thinking about how difficult it can be at times to eat healthy in a processed food world.   Restaurants rarely have what I would want to order.  Half the time, I think, "Why didn't I just stay home?  I'd rather eat what I make."  The bulk of what's in the store isn't good for my body and my friends and relatives eat so differently than I do.

So I started thinking, "If the world changed and EVERYONE was eating like I aim to eat, would I still struggle at times with my eating or would I finally be soaring without a hitch?  If I went to a wedding reception and all the food choices were healthy ones, would I be in heaven or would I be missing what's usually there?  If all my friends read Dr. Furhman's books and ate just like he recommends, would I think 'This is great!' or would I be wishing they had some homemade cookies on their counter just once in awhile?  If I went to the store and they didn't sell Andes mints before Christmas, would I wish I could eat them one more time or would I be fine without them?"

I didn't really know the answers until I wrote this out.  I didn't know if I was just making excuses for when it got tough eating out in the real world.  Quite truthfully, now that I've thought it through, I think I'd really love a healthy eating world.  I'd love to go to a dinner party and have the tables covered with vegetable dishes (no cheese added!) and trays of fruits galore.  I'd love to know that every time I ordered rice or bread, it was brown rice or completely whole grain bread without milk or refined sugars.  I'd love to trust that each bite I ate was actually creating health and not sickness. 

I used to long for certain sugary foods and wish they didn't cause my body so many problems.  But my taste buds and desires are changing, so I don't think I'd fret if certain once beloved foods fell off the face of the earth and never returned.  The few unhealthy foods that still call to me do more so out of habit than because my body actually wants them.  I don't even like them anymore once I eat them (for example, ice cream!)  I just have conditioned myself to think that every so often, I'll just succumb to this or that and that's really quite silly.  I'm not a creature of habit.  I'm a creation designed to make choices.  I get to decide what I want to do and what I'll eat.  The past doesn't need to determine the present.  Nope, not at all.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Favorite Movie Theatre Food

I've discovered a great snack to munch on in the movie theatre that is easy to buy (or make) and satisfying to eat.  It's dehydrated fruit.  I've always loved dried fruit, but never thought to take it to the movies.  I love to dehydrate my own, but it never seems to last long.   I've been buying the dried apples from Trader Joe's this past year (no sulphites and just a few dollars) and they're super yummy.  They're called "New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings" if you need specifics.  They're super chewy so they seem to last well for movie watching.

Granted, you're not really supposed to bring in your own food to the movie theatre, but unless they put something on their menu that I can eat or drink, I'll be bringing in at least my water bottle filled up and probably a little something else too.

Some other dried favorites are home dehydrated peaches, apricots, pears, or mangoes.  I also love fruit leather, homemade or not.  I have an abundance of ripening fruit so it's time to make fruit leather again.  I'll experiment a bit and will post some recipes.  They're basically smoothies flattened out.