A few weeks ago when I was preparing for Fall Face-Off, I was way too worried about logistics. I mean, somebody had to be, right?
I, for some reason, was freaking out about the food situation. I mean, it was going to be an all-day ordeal, and nobody was going to be providing food. I had no idea what sorts of workouts we’d be doing, how long I’d be there, and how hungry I would be. And, if anyone were to share food, how was I supposed to count that into my WW plan?
I decided to be a little maniac in the kitchen the entire week before the event, creating all sorts of Paleo treats (yes, there’s more to come!).
You won’t believe how crazy-easy it is to make fruit leathers. Yup, like the fruit roll-ups you had when you were a kid, and probably made a mess with. Except these are far healthier, and don’t include refined sugar or preservatives.
The base for any of your fruit leathers will be the same: fruit. Fresh or frozen. I really wanted to experiment with strawberries, and at this point in the season, fresh is too expensive, so I opted for frozen.
If you opt for frozen fruit, defrost or nuke in the microwave for a minute, and then stick in your blender, and puree until liquified.
At this point, you can add some agave (I found that 1 to 2 tablespoons for an entire bag’s worth of berries was perfect), if you think the mixture is too tart. During this process, I have tried several different types, which I will explain below. So far, I have tried strawberry with balsamic and cracked black pepper (awesome); strawberry basil (done via infusion); strawberry with cinnamon, chili, chipotle, and lime; strawberry-ginger; blackberry mojito; and peach chili.
Once you have your liquefied mixture, line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap, and pour fruit mixture on top of the plastic wrap.
And then tilt the cookie sheet until the mixture is evenly spread throughout the sheet.
Two notes: (1) DO use the plastic wrap. For my first batch, I used a Silpat instead, and the leather was hellish to peel off in one piece. (2) You might consider taping the edges of the plastic wrap. If you don’t, the plastic has a bad habit of flipping over on itself, and the leathers will unevenly dehydrate, like this:
Stick your sheet in the oven on its lowest setting (normally between 120° and 160°). My oven goes down to 140°, and the leathers turned out great, dehydrating between 6 and 10 hours normally.
Once your leather is no longer sticky to the touch, remove from the oven, and roll up lengthwise.
Cut into individual pieces. Each sheet should yield between 4 and 6 leathers, depending on how large you cut them.
Then, if you like, wrap each piece in some waxed paper.
And there you have it! Preservative-free, sugar-free, awesome-filled fruit roll-ups! If these aren’t a hit with everyone you know, then everyone you know is LAME.
Grown-Up Fruit Roll-Ups
• Approximately 4 cups of fruit, fresh or frozen
• Sea salt, to taste
• 1–2 tablespoons Agave (optional)
• Infusions (optional)
Puree fresh or defrosted frozen fruit in a blender until liquefied. Add sea salt to taste, and agave, if desired. At this point, you may also add spices or infuse your mixture.
Line a cookie sheet with plastic wrap, and pour your fruit mixture onto the cookie sheet. One cookie sheet will hold approximately 2 cups of fruit mixture. Tilt cookie sheet to and fro, until the fruit mixture is evenly distributed.
Dehydrate in the oven on its lowest setting (often between 120° and 160°), until the fruit leather is no longer sticky to the touch—approximately 6–10 hours.
Roll the finished leather, then cut into pieces and wrap in waxed paper. To eat, simply peel off the plastic-wrap backing and enjoy!
For my WW folk, this recipe technically is Points+ free, BUT, tread with caution. Depending on your body’s tolerance to fruit consumption in weight loss, you may like to treat this recipe as normal dried fruit, or a fruit roll-up, which contains 2p+. Just don’t eat the entire pan in one sitting.
Ideas and notes on infusing:
During this process, I tried several stellar combinations:
- Strawberry with Balsamic and Cracked Black Pepper: This might be my favorite combination to date. Take your basic strawberry mixture, and add approximately 2 teaspoons black pepper, and 2–3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar. Use your taste buds as a guide, but do remember that flavors intensify when dehydrated.
- Strawberry Ginger: Add a tablespoon of fresh ginger (try the stuff in the tube that comes in the refrigerated section!) to your strawberry mixture.
- Strawberry Basil: A close second to Strawberry with Balsamic and Cracked Black Pepper. This required an infusion. Take your strawberry mixture, add approximately 3/4 cup of water, and lots of fresh basil leaves. Simmer over the stove until the mixture has reduced back to its original amount, and the basil has sufficiently imparted flavor. This will take at least 20 minutes. Remove the basil leaves before dehydrating.
- Strawberry with Cinnamon, Chili, Chipotle, and Lime: Add half a teaspoon (or more, to taste!) of each of the spices, plus the juice of half a lime before dehydrating.
- Blackberry Mojito: This requires another infusion. Add approximately 1/2 cup water to your strained blackberry mixture (blackberries have LOTS of seeds), and reduce with lots of fresh mint leaves, and a sliced fresh lime. Remove mint and lime wedges before dehydrating.
- Peach Chili: A classic Latin combination, add about 2 teaspoons of chili powder to your peach mixture.
In the future, I would like to experiment with: peach-ginger, lemongrass, and who knows what else? The possibilities are endless!