Why Making Your Own Dried Fruits Makes Healthy Sense!

How often do you enjoy eating dried fruit and have you ever thought about what is actually in the pack, other than fruit?

Dried fruit is a nutritious and tasty treat, but not all dried fruits are good for you!

As with many items on the supermarket shelf, additives are required to making the product look as good as possible and too give it the longest possible shelf life, that is simply business. We want food that looks inviting.

Dried fruit has been showing up on my Facebook news feed quite a bit of late, unfortunately not for good reasons, but too highlight the unhealthy additives that makes a ‘healthy’ treat, quite unhealthy.

“Is your dried fruit safe?” is a great blog post by Natural New Age Mum , explaining how most dried fruit contains additive 220 (sulphur dioxide) the most common addition used in fruit preservation, and then another one “The Dry Facts On Dried Fruit” is a blog post by Changing Habits, and shows how a little detective work, could have uncovered a little deception.

And then this beautiful picture appeared on my new feed…..

Making your own dried fruit at home is easy, all you need is an oven!

Making your own dried fruit at home is easy, all you need is an oven!

I used to have one of those dehydrators, and used it successfully a few times, but it was a bulky item, that took up valuable real estate in a kitchen cupboard, and in one of my decluttering frenzies, we parted ways. I then read an article years ago about using the oven, tried it and it worked!

DIY DRIED FRUIT IN THE OVEN

Step 1 – Preheat your oven to the lowest temperature setting.

Step 2 – Prepare the fruit, by slicing thinly and placing on baking trays in a single layer. Fruit that you normally do not eat the skin of, such as banana’s, kiwi fruit, etc. should be peeled first.

Step 3 – Fruit that is light in colour, will tend to go dark brown as it dries. You can reduce the discolouration, by brushing each slice slightly with a little lemon juice before placing on the baking tray.

Step 4 – Bake in the oven with door slightly ajar to allow air to circulate (I use a wooden spoon handle) and bake the fruit until it is dry and has a leathery feel. Rotate the trays regularly to ensure even cooking. You can do different fruits at one time, some may just take longer than others. 2 – 4 hours is how long it normally takes to dry most produce.

Step 5 – Allow the fruit to cool completely before storing in air-tight containers. You can also freeze small portions in zip-lock bags if you want to keep the fruit for an extended time.

Whilst this is a healthy version of dried fruit that is additive free, being deydrated means that this produce is dense in sugars and therefore kilojoules, so eating excessive amounts is not good for the waistline.

Use your dried fruits by adding them to cakes, biscuits, salads and cereals. Boil for a few minutes in fresh orange juice and thicken with a little cornflour/water mix to make fruity sauces.

Have you ever made dried fruit and which is your favourite?

10 Wonderful Ways To A Create A Healthy Home!

10 SIMPLE IDEA’S FOR MAKING YOUR HOME A HEALTHY ONE!

I know how easy it is to fall into bad habits that have a negative impact your health, happiness and wellbeing!

We all get so busy, that we try to find the fastest solutions to get everything done, get food on the table and keep a household afloat.   We fall into bed at night exhausted, only to get up the next day and do it all over again…..sound familiar?

The price we pay for living on take-away, getting machines to do as much as possible and not making time for our wellbeing is draining our energy levels, increasing our weight and keeping us stuck in the downward spiral. The following 10 tips are easy to incorporate into daily life and get your family on the path to a fitter and happier lifestyle…….

I have lost 28 kilo’s and kept it off for well over a year now, and I know how damn good it feels and how much more I get done…it is soooooo worth it!

1. FIND A FITNESS FRIEND

Get your partner, buddy, bestie or the whole family to join you for a regular walk, visit to the gym or join a sports team. Just find someone else to share moving with, so you get up off the couch! When you know someone is waiting for you to show up, all those wonderful excuses you can come up with get put on the back burner. Create a simple goal chart with rewards for sticking with it.

2. DOUBLE UP DINNERS

Every healthy dinner you cook, double the recipe and freeze the other half. Quickly you will build up a good supply of dinners that can be ready to eat in a flash, certainly quicker than you can drive down to your local takeaway shop. Organise a ‘Swap Club’ with family, friends or co-workers, where you each provide a meal that you swap around with each other. Great for variety and discovering different recipies.

3. SUPER SNACKS

Only stock your fridge and panty with healthy snacks. Save money and your waistline by not allowing processed and expensive snacks into your shopping trolley. Dried fruit, nuts, fresh fruit, vegetable sticks, rice crackers and low fat biscuits are all you need to provide healthy snacks to fill tummies. Every now and then we bake a slice or biscuits for a treat, but not often (birthday parties excluded – then we go to town with all the naughties, ’cause it’s fun).

4. BANNING BUBBLES

Soft drink has got to be one of the worst things you can consume! It is nothing but a sugar laden, chemical cocktail that has not a single health benefit. Ban it from your place and replace it with water. Hydrated bodies are happy bodies. We do have Golden Circle Low Joule Cordial in our house for when we really feel like something sweet AND Champagne is excluded from the banning list, do like the odd glass if I may say so!

5. HEALTHY OPTION DINING

Find restaurants near you that provide healthy options on their menu’s. We all deserve to have a night off cooking occassionally, so find ones that will allow you to go out and enjoy your meal without the guilt and that heavy feeling after eating a meal ladden with fat.

6. CREATE A HEALTHY FOOD COOK BOOK

Get a ring binder and some plastic pockets next time you are out shoppping. Go through magazines or cook books and cut out the recipies that fit into the healthy catagory. Keep them all in the binder, so when you are meal planning or making a shopping list, you don’t sit and go through cook books full on fat laden options that tempt you. It is also handy when you are cooking as you simply remove the recipe from the folder still in it’s plastic pocket and it is protected from cooking spills and sticky fingers.

7. HEADING OUT THE DOOR

Before you leave the house, pack a water bottle and a bag of healthy snacks into your bag. No matter what happens during the day, you will have something healthy to sustain you, rather than buying something fat or sugar laden. If I don’t have something with me I cannot resist doughnuts, yummy but soooo bad, so I always have something with me to nibble on and it really helps me walk past Doughnut King (they really should discontinue Caramel Doughnuts just for my sake)!

8. DITCHING THE DRYER

It is so tempting to take the clothes out of the washing machine and pop them in the dryer. Save your money, save your clothes and do some stretching by hanging the clothes out on the line.

9. KEEPING IT HEALTHY AT ‘THE OFFICE’

Always take your own lunch to work, ducking out to get lunch will rarely see you making healthy choices. Try and get your co-workers in on the act and together you can all bring in something healthy and enjoy a ‘buffet’ of choices everyday. DO NOT eat lunch at your desk. Make sure you get up off the chair, move around, even if it is only for a short while. It will re-energise you, burn some calories and help you have a more productive afternoon.

10. DON’T GET SUCKED INTO THE AFTERNOON SLUMP SUGAR FIX

When the afternoon slump arrives it is so common to reach for a sugary treat to boost you back up! This is short term glory and adds so many extra calories. If you are feeling sluggish, have a big drink of water before you do anything else. Dehydration is usually the cause of this slump, so water will boost the energy levels to help you get through the rest of your day. Coffee is another ‘friend’ we often turn too for a pickup, but coffee only dehydrates you even more, so stick to water, works wonders.

Try the above tips for two weeks, you won’t believe how different you feel, and the belt will do up a notch down. If you have a blow out day, which we all do every now an then, just enjoy it, and don’t rinse and repeat the next day and the next day and the next!

A great recipe to start you off tonight is my Fast and Fabulous Asian Inspired Beef Salad. Whilst you can’t freeze fresh salad items, you can double up on the beef and it freezes really well. Just defrost overnight in the fridge when you want to use it next.

What is your favourite healthy restaurant?