Thursday, August 18, 2011

Raw Vegan Blueberry Banana Fruit Leather - A Healthy Snack For School Lunch Boxes! And They Are Naturally Gluten Free!

A perfect snack for school lunch boxes!

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My First Try at Fruit Leather
When I bought my Excalibur dehydrator, it came with "Preserve it Naturally II, The Complete Guide to Food Dehydration" . The book has lots of ideas on how to dehydrate fruits and vegetables and many other recipes for things I'd never make, like beef jerky. It also dehydrates most things at higher temperatures than what raw foodists would normally use. But it did inspire me to make something that I have never tried and that's fruit leather. So last night, before I went to bed, I whipped up some blueberries and a banana in my Vitamix, poured 4 little pancake-like puddles of the mixture on a dehydrator sheet, popped it in my Excalibur and woke up to 4 little fruit leathers! It was that easy!

Perfect Time of the Year
This is the time of year when we are buried in fruit from our trees or from the farmers' markets. It's also the time of year when the kids are going back to school and we struggle to think of healthy things to put into their lunch boxes. This is the perfect solution! 

Endless Combinations
Mix apples with peaches and a touch of cinnamon. Try using strained blackberry pulp with a banana. Mix apples and pears with some ginger or vanilla extract. Just experiment with the fruit you have at hand! To prevent darkening of light colored fruit, add 2 teaspoons of lemon juice or 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid to each 2 cups of fruit.  WRITE A COMMENT AT THE END OF THIS POST IF YOU HAVE ANY GOOD FRUIT LEATHER RECIPES TO SHARE!
To make your snack even more nutritious, spread some peanut or almond butter on the leather and roll it up. You can even drop some chopped walnuts or coconut onto the mixture before it goes into the dehydrator. These are some of the ideas from this book and I'm sure we can come up with lots more!

Healthy Snack
Many of the fruit leathers at the store add sugar and corn syrup to the mixture. Fruit is sweet by itself so there really is no need. By making these yourself, you can be in control of what your child is eating. You can use organic fruit, leave out the sweeteners and food coloring and be certain that your family is getting the most healthful snack possible! 

Some people spread the leather over the entire sheet and make one large leather. I like having little 4 inch pancakes.
Roll the little pancakes up or fold them over.
Wrap tightly in plastic and drop in the lunchbox or store.
Each fruit leather is only 51 calories and has 2 g of fiber!

Blueberry Banana Fruit Leathers
Raw Vegan, Gluten Free
[makes 8 (4 1/2 inch round) fruit leathers]
2 cups blueberries ,cleaned (if you use frozen, thaw first)
2 large bananas, peeled and cut up

Place fruit in a Vitamix or other high speed blender and blend until smooth.
Pour out 8 pancakes (about 1/4 cup each) onto 2 large Teflex dehydrator sheets (4 pancakes per sheet).
With the back of a spoon, gently spread pancake so that it is about 4 to 4 1/2 inches round. The mixture should be 1/8 inch in the center and 1/4 inch thick at the edges. Don't make them too thin.
Dehydrate at 105 degrees F until leathery and pliable and the center is no longer sticky. Mine took 9 1/2 hours but this will vary depending on the amount of moisture in your blended fruit mixture.
Peel leather off the Teflex sheets. Roll up or fold in half and then in quarters.
To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in airtight containers in a cool, dark place.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, the leathers will keep one month at room temperature or for 1 year if the tightly wrapped leathers are put in the freezer.

Per fruit serving: 51.3 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 55 mg omega-3 and 84 mg omega-6 fatty acids, 0 mg cholesterol, 0.5 g protein, 13 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber and 0.7 mg sodium.


teawithhazel said...

i bought a dehydrator recently and i'm looking forward to making fruit leather..i hope mine look as good as yours..jane

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Let me know if you come up with a good recipe!
Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Don't have a dehydrator but your's seem to have come out splendidly.
I would think all fruits would be well - what about mixing fruits and veggies so little ones don't know there getting their greens?
Mango and Pineapple with a tad chili powder [maybe not so much for the kids]
pears with cinnamon
banana with coconut
strawberries with some kiwi

a gracious plenty said...

i just did some fruit leather with what i had on hand--a banana, an apple, cherries, and blueberries. my three-year-old would go pull a tray out of the dehydrator (before i'd gotten to put them up) and peel him off some. it was good.
we get lots of blueberries here in the summer. i like the thought of just using bananas and blueberries.

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

I like the idea of blending in some greens. It's especially easy to mix some kale or spinach in with blueberry leathers as it would be hard for the kids to detect.
However, in the book "Preserve it Naturally II", they warn, "do not keep fruit and vegetable leathers in the same container: this could cause the vegetable leathers to mold". I'm not sure why or if that would pertain to mixing fruit and veggies before making the leathers. I still think it's worth a try but to be safe, I'd store them in the refrigerator and use them quickly.

naidre said...

I have an Excalibur too, and gave been in leather heaven.... We have been enjoying Peach Apple Vanilla leather lately.
Try washing and quartering peaches or nectarines, and place in food processor. Add vanilla extract to taste as well as a small amount of agave and a tiny pinch of sea salt or himalayan salt (to enhance the flavor). I have been adding 1 apple to every 6 peaches, and find that ratio is great. Process til smooth and pour onto sheets. Usually at 6 hours, more or less, if I can lift the leather easily, I flip it over and dry til totally dry. I cut it into strips and place parchment paper in between pieces- it works better than plastic wrap.
This week we picked blackberries, so I added some to the mix. Excellent.

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Peach, apple, vanilla sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing!

KootenayBorn said...

So does freezing a raw leather make it slightly less nutritious?

Thanks! Im going to try that apple one today, and I have been looking for other recipes.

I have a 5 day window with this exaclibur so I wanna try as many raw recipes as possible! (borrowing it, I have great friends!)

KootenayBorn said...

Totally trying the peach, apple vanilla one!

Have you ever heard of making veggie leathers? you use a mixture of vegetables and then dehydrate. You can then use it as a wrap for a sandwich. Sounds yummy I want to try it!

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

That does sound good! I have tons of kale and zucchini right now. I'll have to try it!
Thanks for the idea of using it as a wrap.

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

I do not believe that freezing with diminish the nutritional adequacy of any food. But it might change the texture. I've never tried freezing leathers so if anyone has any experience with this, please comment.

Sue said...

I have an Excalibur and love making fruit leathers. My favorite kind is mango coconut (with almonds). Check it out at:
Go to the Dehydrated Fruits and veg tab and scroll down.
This is a cool site! Thanks.

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

That is a cool site and the mango coconut almond leather looks great! The best way to find it is to use the search engine on the site.
Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I am making these fruit leathers right now:

cardamom pumpkin pie spice banana
Saffron banana
Ginger curry banana
Cilantro coconut chile mango
Mixed berry

will try adding almonds to the mix next time!

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Those sound super interesting! Thanks for the ideas!

Jen said...

So delicious!!! I made plain blueberry, blueberry-strawberry, and blueberry-strawberry-banana. The one with banana was our clear favorite. Thanks for sharing!

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Banana always brings in a nice sweet flavor. Thanks for sharing!