Fruit roll-ups

 

good eaten fruit

Is this a common sight in your house?

Every time I look in the fridge there’s a half eaten bowl of fruit staring me in the face… and taking up valuable fridge real estate!

I tried everything: cutting up a piece of fruit so the girls could share it (that only resulted in a bowl of half eaten cut up fruit left in the fridge); putting left over fruit into a smoothie (resulting in half drunk smoothies left in the fridge) …. this baffling little bowl of scraps took many forms and I thought its fruity reign would never end.

Then I bought a dehydrator…

… in the nifty little recipe book that came with it, I found a recipe for fruit leathers…

… and my world changed. FOREVER.

Fruit leathers are pureed fruit, spread out over some baking paper and dried very slowly to take out all the moisture. They’re basically like the store bought fruit roll-ups you got as a kid without all the added sugar and preservatives.

They’re delicious and get rid of all the half eaten, left over, and over ripe fruit in the house – they’re amazing!

You can really get creative with them, too.

Drizzle yogurt on them; sprinkle nuts or shredded coconut on the top to give them added texture; combine vegetables like baby spinach with the fruit to make a super-green-smoothie-roll-up… there are so many options!

But I don’t have a dehydrator!

I know what you’re probably saying “I don’t have a dehydrator, I can’t do this “.

Well, in fact, you can because it’s very easy to use your oven as a dehydrator for this particular snack. To show you how, I made two batches of fruit roll-ups: one in the oven and one in the dehydrator.

Dehydrator
Dehydrator (uncooked)
Oven (uncooked)
Oven (uncooked)

I’ll go through the ingredients and instructions in more detail below but first I’ll go through the details of how I get my oven to work as a dehydrator.

A quick guide to dehydrating in your oven

First of all preheat your oven  – I didn’t and my first batch of roll-ups turned out like this.

This roll up started to crack
See the cracks?

You will need to set your oven very low (around 57 degrees celsius), and turn your oven’s fan on if it has one. Leave your oven door slightly ajar – I use a wooden spoon to keep the door open just enough to allow some air flow.

Leave your oven on for a while to make sure it’s properly pre-heated. It’s a bit harder to control the temperature for dehydrating in an oven (which is why I bought a dehydrator) but it can be done!

I left my oven for a about 30 mins then checked it every 5 – 10 mins to make sure it was staying the same temperature.

You can check the temperature by sticking your hand in the oven.  It should feel very hot in there but not so much that it burns you.

Think mid 40 degree Summer’s day + wind and go get yourself a cold drink… it’s ready!

As you can see from the two pictures below, the outcome was perfectly acceptable when done in the oven versus the dehydrator:

Finished dehydrator roll ups
Finished dehydrator roll-ups
oven finished roll up
Finished oven roll-ups

The one that came out of the oven was slightly creased in places from where the baking paper crinkled up when it heated. You could probably fix this by using microwavable cling wrap, but I’m a bit iffy about heating plastic in the oven where the temperature may fluctuate.

Once it’s cut and rolled you can’t tell anyway.

A teeny word of advice before you start: these take 4 – 6 hrs to “cook” depending on your oven. The first time I ever made these was on a day I was at home with the girls. Once you’ve got the hang of it, put these on before bed and dream of chewy deliciousness. They should be ready by morning.

Ingredients:

  • Fruit of your choice
  • Sweetener such as mayple syrup or honey (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to approximately 57 degrees celsius.
  2. Puree your fruits. You need approximately 1/2 cup per baking tray. Add optional sweetener (I generally taste the pureed fruit and add a tiny bit of sweetener if it’s a bit sour but I avoid adding sweetener generally)
  3. Line a baking tray with baking parchment paper.
  4. Pour your puree into the middle of the baking paper reserving a few tablespoons of liquid.
  5. Spread out the puree by using a spatula or by holding the baking tray in your hands  and moving it from side to side so that it spreads evenly. It should be approximately 3mm thick.
  6. Take your reserved puree and, using a spoon, build up the outer edges so that they measure about 6mm thick (see photos above). This is so the edges of the roll-up don’t dry out too quickly and become brittle.
  7. Dehydrate for 4 to 6 hrs until no sticky spots remain.
  8. Carefully peel the roll-up off the baking paper. It should peel off easily. If any puree adheres continue dehydrating.
  9. Allow to cool. Cut strips out of roll up with kitchen scissors and wrap in plastic wrap. Store in airtight containers in a cool dark place or fridge.

voila!

Mango chia pudding

It’s summer and the mangos are in season hooray! The girls love having smoothies in the afternoon, and what’s more delicious than a cold mango smoothie?…. turning your cold mango smoothie into a delicious mango chia pudding!

I had some goji berries in the cupboard and decided to throw some into one of the puddings as well. Mainly because I thought the colours would look pretty together(they did!) but also because gojis are packed with antioxidants, especially carotenoids which are great for developing eyes. While I thought they were really tasty Frankie didn’t go for them, and preferred the plain mango. But they’re a nice addition if your kids like goji berries.

I love this snack. The girls think they’re getting a dessert, it’s high in fibre and protein due to the chia and just a little bit special.

enjoy!

Ingredients

  • Chia seeds
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 large mango
  • 1 heaped tsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2cm piece vanilla pod (optional)
  • Handful goji berries (optional)

Instructions

  • Combine mango, almond milk, coconut oil and honey (If adding vanilla, cut vanilla pod lengthwise, scrape out seeds and add them to the mixture) and blend until smooth.
  • Transfer to a bowl and add goji berries and chia seeds. For every 1 cup of liquid add 3 tablespoons of chia seeds. (mine yielded 2 cups)
  • Cover and refrigerate for an hour, stirring the mixture at the 30min mark.

Carrot and apple salad

carrot and apple finished

I love the flavour of carrot and apple together. It was always one of my favourite combinations in my juicing days, before I found out just how essential the fibre from our veggies and fruit is.

I know a lot of people detox on juices and think giving their kids a glass of freshly squeezed juice is a healthy option, but it’s not. Here’s a quick explanation of why.

When you take away the fibre from your food you increase the absorption of sugar into your blood stream. So having a juice is just like consuming a big glass of sugary water. Not good news for things like obesity, diabetes and overall health.

If you’re interested in how a high sugar, low fibre diet effects our health, and more importantly just how detrimental to our wellbeing sugar actually is watch “The bitter truth” by Dr Robert Lustig on you tube, I highly recommend it.

So give your kids a bowl of fruit instead of a juice, or keep the pulp and serve the juice with freshly made pulp burgers.

Anyway enough dietary preaching. This salad is quick, easy and grain free. Perfect for the 4pm munchies!

Ingredients:

  • 1 Apple
  • 1 carrot
  • Handful of sultanas
  • Handful of chopped almonds (activated is best)

Instructions

  1. Grate carrot and apple, mix in a bowl with sultanas and sprinkle with nuts

Side note: Another yummy combination is Carrot, avocado and sultanas.

Fresh fruit popsicles

photo 4-2

These popsicles are quick, easy and are a great way to get kids to try some fruit they won’t normally go anywhere near! (this is the only way my 17 month old will even touch rockmelon).

Not to mention they’re a great activity to do with the kids. Let’s face it, craft you can eat at the end is always a winner.

You’ll need some cookie cutters, fresh fruit and popsicle sticks. Normal cookie cutters can be a bit sharp for little ones. Luckily I found some great plastic star shaped ones with blunt edges in the back of our kitchen cupboard, which were perfect for Imi’s tiny hands to do some mean fruit mashing.

photo 2

For the fruit I used rockmelon, watermelon, papaya and kiwi but you could do this with anything. Forgo the cookie cutters and stick the popsicle sticks in fresh strawberries, orange slices or banana halves. As long as it’s ripe and yummy it’ll work.

Did I mention these were great for teething?

Fruit popsicles:

Ingredients

  • Fruit of your choice cut into 1.5cm slices
  • Wooden popsicle sticks (I got mine from an art supply store)
  • Cookie cutters (ones with blunt edges are better for smaller children)

Instructions:

  1. Cut off the rind/skin of your chosen fruit and and slice into approximately 1.5cm slices.
  2. Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters.
  3. Stick in popsicle sticks
  4. line a container big enough to fit all the popsicles in with baking paper. Put a sheet of baking paper in between each layer to stop the popsicles from sticking together. Cover with lid or plastic wrap and freeze for at least an hour.