To say that eating healthy in a world where food manufacturers routinely put non-food ingredients such as wood filler in parmesan cheese is a gross understatement (go ahead, Google it). I mean, am I the only one who thinks that seeing “pork” listed as an ingredient on my kids’ fruit snacks is super disturbing?! Never mind the lengthy lists of chemicals that I can’t pronounce that show up next to the lists of dyes and artificial flavors! Food companies are putting worse and worse stuff into our fake foods and many of us are gobbling it right up! And consequently, as a nation, our health is definitely suffering. Obesity rates are higher than ever and it seems that more and more food related diseases are taking a toll on us. Now, I am the first to admit that I am definitely guilty of not only purchasing poor food choices, but also feeding them to my family more often than I should! Life with three small children and all that comes along with them can be challenging, and time is the most precious commodity these days. And sadly, our nutrition often suffers because of scenarios such as mine. Throw in picky kids, and you have the epitome of an uphill battle.
So I know you’re thinking, “How in the hell does Scott fit into this post?!” He definitely isn’t a trail blazer in the healthy living movement, but I will say that he is a huge fan of making his own food, which is often a much better option than processed, packaged food and/or restaurant food. And so what I wanted to share with you today, is his latest obsession: Fruit Leather (aka Fruit Jerky or Fruit Rollups). While his recipe isn’t technically vegan (he uses locally sourced unpasteurized honey as his sweetener), it is raw and I definitely approve! It looks so fabulous and the big kids gobble it down so happily that I almost wish I wasn’t in the middle of my giant Juice Feast (future blog topic)! I actually started this obsession when I secured around 20 pounds of fresh strawberries lately and made my own which were vegan. They apparently are good, but not as good as his. Again, I haven’t tried any of them (Juice Feast).
Here’s a typical fruit rollup box. Compare these ingredients next to Scott’s strawberries, lemon juice, salt, and honey. Also, why does our (totally unnecessary) red 40, yellow 5 & 6 and blue 1 need “genetic engineering?” Eek!
Basically, he just blends up a bunch of fresh fruit in the Vitamix with honey. He adds in a pinch of salt and the juice of one lemon or so per batch. So far he’s done strawberry, mangoes, and a strawberry-mango combination. Once it becomes a liquid consistency, he pours it onto teflex sheets to go into our Excalibur dehydrator where we dehydrate it at about 115 degrees for 12-24 hours depending on the thickness of the spread. Keeping the temperature around this level is important if you care about whether or not they are raw. The main benefit of raw food versus cooked food is that you are maintaining the integrity of the fruit or vegetable as Mother Nature intended and are keeping maximum nutrients. You’ll know when the fruit leather is done because it will easily peel off the sheet and not stick anymore. I like to flip them over and dehydrate a little longer on the other side too. We haven’t tried yet, but I imagine that you could do this on your oven’s lowest temperature as well and just pour onto parchment paper on cookie sheets. I bet it would cook faster with a higher heat so you’d need to keep an eye on it. Once finished, you can slice with a knife or even cut it with scissors and it’s ready to enjoy!
And as far as working towards healthier food? Well, it starts with awareness and it’s a process. It’s hopefully a shift over time that we strive towards. In the meantime, just do your best, make better choices when you can and don’t beat yourself up when you don’t because that doesn’t do any good either. We can’t be perfect all the time.