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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dried Fruit: Dos and Don'ts

We all need more produce in our diets, but sometimes access to fresh fruit isn’t always an option.  Picture a lunch sack shoved into the bottom of a backpack and you’ll quickly see why fresh grapes, nectarines or kiwi may end up as a soggy pulp by the time lunchtime rolls around.  One possible solution – dried fruit. 

Nutrition & Convenience:
When fresh fruit is out of season, or you need a good car snack, or something that won’t mold in your pantry, try dried fruit. Dried fruit contains all the nutrition of regular fruit minus the water.  So they are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber that keep our digestion healthy, help us fend off colds and overall prevent disease. 

When choosing a dried fruit, watch out for 2 things:
  1.       Added sugar.  Read that ingredient list to make sure there is only one item – the fruit.  Fruit is nature’s dessert and doesn’t need to be soaked in sugary syrups before drying.  Avoid choosing dried fruits that contain added sugars.
  2.      Serving size.  Since the water is taken out, a serving of dried fruit is much smaller than a serving of fresh fruit.  Always plan to drink plenty of water to round out your snack of dried fruit and help provide the fullness you’d get from eating regular fruit. 

Drying your own:
Best of all, dried fruit is a great way to avoid wasting fruit that goes begging from your fruit bowl or your refrigerator drawer.  My favorite is dried pineapple from canned pineapple slices and dried grapefruit from fresh, sliced grapefruit.
Some great dryable fruits include:
  •         Berries
  •         Pineapple
  •        Grapes
  •        Plums
  •        Kiwi
  •       Mango
  •       Apples
  •        Peaches
  •        Nectarines
  •        Apricots
  •        Grapefruit
  •        Oranges

3 steps to delicious dried fruit:
  1. Wash your fruit 
  2. Slice uniformly and if needed dip your fruit in a lemon juice & water mixture to prevent browning  
  3. Dry on a baking rack in your oven, set to the lowest setting, or use a food dehydrator.  
*To prevent sticking, lightly spray the dehydrator tray or baking rack with cooking spray. 

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