Dehydrated Goodies: Powdered Veggie Stock and Date-Nut Chewies

Merry Christmas!

December can be such a busy month! I’ve been juggling two jobs while squeezing in time for getting into the holiday spirit and getting my Christmas shopping done. This year I bought my gifts with a theme in mind: hand-made and local. I bought lots of gifts at Market Collective, which is a fun event in Calgary that hosts local artists selling their creations. I also decided to make a couple things in my dehydrator, and I’d like to share them with you today.

I got these recipes from a book called Dry It – You’ll Like it! by Gen Macmaniman. I received it for Christmas one year, and it is a great guide for drying fruits, veggies, and herbs, and includes instructions for building your own dehydrator.

Dehydrating is fun, and a great way to save produce that is in season, or that may go bad before you have a chance to use it fresh. At Thanksgiving I dehydrated all the extra fresh herbs I had: sage, parsley, and thyme. I also made cran-apple fruit leather, and go absolutely cuckoo for dehydrated apples and bananas. In my opinion, having a dehydrator is perfect for anybody who likes experimenting in the kitchen, and who is looking to incorporate more raw foods in their diet. Check out this recipe for rosemary seed crackers from a previous post.

Please note that if you are considering buying a dehydrator, look at product reviews before purchasing, as the first one I had lasted only a month past the warranty date, and it looks like I’m not the only one that happened to. It’s also great to buy a dehydrator that you can control the temperature.

So, back to my little Christmas project. I made soup stock and date-nut chewies to include in my gifts to my family. Here is what I did:

Veggie Soup Stock
Yields around 20 tablespoons of powder, or 20 cups of stock (when added to 1 cup of boiling water per 1 tablespoons of stock)

Ingredients
2 medium tomatoes, sliced
4 celery stalks, cut into sticks (I also dehydrated the leaves)
2 cups mushrooms, sliced
2 large carrots, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup spinach

Note: You may use a wide variety of vegetables. The book suggests cabbage, carrots, celery, garlic, green beans, horseradish, mushrooms, mustard greens, onions, peppers, spinach, tomato, or watercress. I chose what I thought would go together nicely.

Directions
I placed all the vegetables in one layer on dehydrator sheets. I have four sheets, and all these veggies took two rounds of dehydrating to complete. They were dehydrated at 135*F for about 6 hours. Time may vary depending on how thick the vegetables are, how crowded the trays are, and how juicy the vegetables were to begin with. I removed the vegetables that felt completely dry, and continued to dehydrate the ones that were still damp. You can add more vegetables once there is room on the trays. To check the vegetables, remove the heat source and let the veggies cool down first. If it feels dry, it probably is.

Next, I placed all the dehydrated vegetables in a high-speed blender and blended until the vegetables were a powder. This took a couple minutes of blending. Be sure to let the blender rest before opening it, as the powder is very fine and smokes into the air.

I divided the stock into two plastic baggies of 10 tbsp each, and added the keep-dry packets that come with sushi and other dry foods. I didn’t want the stock powder to be exposed to any moisture.

I wrote the following instructions on each baggie: “Mix 1-2 tbsp of stock with 1 cup of boiling water and let rest for about a minute. Add ground flaxseed to thicken, if desired. Use in soups, stews, and gravy.”

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Voila! Home-made powdered vegetable stock! Because it’s dry, it’ll last for a long time. Store it away from sunlight and moisture.

Date-Nut Chewies
Ingredients
3/4 cup oil (I used canola oil)
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 Macintosh apples (or another kind of apple), cut into pieces, skin on
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
2 cups pitted dates
1 cup raw almonds (recipe called for walnuts)

In my high-speed blender I mixed the oil, maple syrup, apples, and vanilla extract until smooth. Then, I added the rest of the ingredients and blended until smooth. The original recipe indicates that you should use ground oats and sunflower seeds, but I did not do this because of how powerful my blender is. Plus, I thought some chunks would be OK.

Next, I spread the mixture out on two dehydrator sheets, making them pretty thick (about 1/2 inch). I dehydrated them for around 6 hours, then cut them into small squares, separated them from each other, and continued to dry them for another 8 hours.

These chewies are a great snack that resembles an energy ball. I was expecting it to be more candy-like or cookie-like, but it definitely tastes like a healthy snack. The first one I tried, in all honesty, I wasn’t sure if I should give them as gifts, but after having a few more, the taste grew on me. This recipe made a lot, so I’m glad they turned out!

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Rosemary Seed Crackers

After a fun and relaxing holiday I am buckling down to finish the last semester of my Master’s degree in psychotherapy. Just like last semester I am trying to ensure that I am eating well during these busy weeks. It is so tempting to buy food at the cafeteria, but it is important to me to make my own healthy snacks at home and bring them to school. My favourite snacks include trail mixes with nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, figs, dates, popcorn, and occasionally chocolate chips are my go-tos), fruit, home-made granola bars, home-made cookies (such as blackbean or hemp-seed based cookies), home-made muffins, feaux peanut butter with banana or apple (I love adding cinnamon), hummus with veggies or crackers, and avocado and nutritional yeast on crackers. My ultimate favourite add-ons to any savoury snack or salad is veggie pâté and home-grown sprouts.

A lot of these snacks are pretty simple, and I’m sure a lot of them are not new to any of you, but my goal in listing my favourite snacks is to inspire some new creativity among anyone who reads this. If you have any other vegan go-tos, let me know!! I’m always looking to be inspired with food.

Moving along to the recipe at hand.

Crackers are a tricky food because many of the store-bought ones contain many unpronounceable ingredients. Not only that, but a lot of crackers have a great deal of sodium in them. I’m not saying I never eat things with excess salt or that have been processed, but I try to keep these foods to a minimum. And, that is why one of my new years resolutions is to make my own crackers. Here is a recipe I tried last weekend. It is good with hummus, veggie pâté, or just on its own. It has protein and veggies in it, which is what I look for in snacks. This recipe was inspired by “The Complete Book of Raw Food 2nd edition” edited by Julie Rodwell.

Ingredients
1 cup flaxmeal (the recipe calls for flaxseed, but I did no have it)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup leek, finely chopped
1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/8 cup fresh rosemary
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
pinch cayenne
1/4 tsp salt
Pepper to taste

I soaked the flaxmeal and sunflower seeds in three cups of water for 6 hours. I then blended everything in a food processor until smooth. The batter was spread about 1/4 inch thick onto three dehydrator trays that I lined with parchment paper. The crackers were dehydrated for 16 hours at 110*F. About six hours in I scored the trays to define how big the crackers were going to be.

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The crackers turned out really well, and I am looking forward to experimenting with different kinds of raw crackers. I made some a couple years ago, so go here to check out the beginning of my dehydrating adventure

Asian Millet Salad

There’s nothing like a delicious salad for lunch that has you coming back for more. This salad definitely owes a lot to the dressing, which is from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen, but the rest of the salad was created by me. I have been experimenting with millet, and wound up with a lot of leftovers last night. I decided to base this recipe off my everything salad. This is jacked with protein, from the millet, spinach, beans, edamame beans, sunflower seeds, and sesame seeds.

Ingredients for the salad
1 cup millet, cooked to a rice-like consistency and cooled
1/2 red cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1 cup spinach, shredded
1 cup black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup edamame beans
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Ingredients for the dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp sesame oil
1/8 cup tamari or soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/8 cup maple syrup
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1/4 jalapeno, diced

After lots of chopping, dicing and shredding, I mixed all the salad ingredients in a large bowl, then in a small bowl whisked the dressing ingredients, then tossed it with the salad. SO GOOD.

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Split Pea Soup

You HAVE to make this. Seriously, it is so delicious.

I got the recipe from Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Kitchen. Hers has seaweed (dulse) and kale in it, but I left that out to make it more traditional. Not only do I love split pea soup to begin with, but the red pepper flakes and nutritional yeast gave it some punch.

Ingredients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 celery ribs, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 1/2 cups dried split peas
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp pepper
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

First, I cooked the onion pieces in the oil for about 5 minutes, until they were translucent and slightly browned. Next, I added the garlic, celery, and carrots, and cooked for a few more minutes to lightly sautee them. After adding the split peas, vegetable stock, thyme, parsley, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, I let the soup cook for 45-50 minutes, stirring it occasionally. Voila! I served the soup with whole grain ciabatta bread toasted in the oven on broil for a couple minutes.

If you are interested in the dulse and kale addition, just add 1 1/2 cups shredded kale and 1/4 cup whole-leaf dulse seaweed, ripped into 1-inch pieces, and allow them to steam in the soup for 5 minutes before serving. The recipe also says that you can add 1 tsp of smoked paprika instead of the dulse. While I thoroughly enjoyed the soup without these additions, I’m sure they would be delicious too.

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Dehydrating and Raw Vegan Crackers

Last summer I became curious about dehydrating. It started off with wondering why anyone would want to be a raw vegan (I still don’t get it – it’s a good idea to eat a lot of raw food, but why deprive yourself of so much good, hot food? I have not found ANY evidence that cooking food makes it toxic), and lead me down a trail of looking at raw vegan recipes. From these, I discovered that a dehydrator is a useful tool in making a lot of cool dishes. Plus, I have never been able to find very much dried fruit that doesn’t have “may contain peanuts” stamped across it.  So, a curiosity of raw vegan-ism lead to a curiosity about dehydrating food. Finally, after months of thinking about it, I bought a dehydrator and a raw vegan cookbook, and started off by drying bananas, kiwi, peaches, and cucumber. The bananas were definitely my favorite, and I plan on dehydrating dozens more.

Dehydrater

dried fruit

In my last post I briefly mentioned Vegucated, a documentary that promotes veganism by explaining why it is important to eat this way. It turns out that more CO2 is expelled because of the meat industry than from all the cars on the road, on top of the fact that there are no regulations on how to treat animals, meaning most animals are treated horrendously from birth until death. This must-see film only inspired me more to try out vegan recipes, and I started with a Veggie Cracker recipe, found in The Complete Book of Raw Food, 2nd edition, edited by Julie Rodwell.

Ingredients

1/2 onion, chopped

2-5 cloves garlic

1 cup spinach

1 cup fresh herbs (I used cilantro)

3 tsp salt

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 large zucchini, shredded

2 carrots, shredded

2 cups flax seeds, soaked 8-12 hours

2 cups flax seeds

Dough

In a blender I puréed the onion, garlic, spinach, cilantro, salt, and lemon juice. I added it to the shredded zucchini and carrot, then added the flax seeds, and an additional cup of water. I mixed the dough well to make sure everything was well incorporated. I spread the dough evenly on my dehydrating racks, which were covered in parchment paper, making sure the dough was not too thick. I dehydrated the crackers 8 hours, then flipped them and continued to dehydrate for another 8 hours, and I rotated the racks every few hours to ensure even drying.

Veggie Crackers

The crackers are good, but maybe a little bit of an acquired taste. I am tempted to make a cream cheese dip for them, but that kind of defeats the vegan thing… I plan on experimenting with some of the other cracker recipes in the cookbook to figure out which ones I like best.

Dehydrating is fun!