Based in Sydney, Australia, Foundry is a blog by Rebecca Thao. Her posts explore modern architecture through photos and quotes by influential architects, engineers, and artists.

Why my food dehydrator has become my favorite kitchen appliance + a recipe for the best grain, nut and oil free raw vegetable crisps

Why my food dehydrator has become my favorite kitchen appliance + a recipe for the best grain, nut and oil free raw vegetable crisps

Food dehydrators may not be the most mainstream kitchen appliance out there, but it’s one that I fall more in love with every time I use it and cannot live without.

I had been toying with the idea of purchasing a food dehydrator for quite a while before my husband gifted me with my Nesco over two years ago. More than anything else, I was drawn to the idea of dehydrating food because of the health benefits. Specifically, that I could use low levels of heat to prepare food and still retain all of its original vitamins, minerals and natural enzymes (as opposed to cooking at higher temperatures, which can lead nutrients to be destroyed).   Now that I’ve had one for a couple of years, I’ve come to appreciate all of the valuable things that a food dehydrator can do for you and want to share just a few of my favorite ways and reasons to use it.

Two of my favorite things to make using my food dehydrator are dried fruit and vegetable chips. These are the type of thing I'd buy regularly at the grocery store, but now make exclusively at home despite the fact that it can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours of cooking time, which is obviously a lot less convenient than just picking up a ready-to-go store-bought version of the same thing. I choose the homemade route every time because I love to have control over the ingredients, which not only allows me to play around with different recipes and explore new flavors using different herbs and spices but it also means that I can limit or avoid heavily oils, added sugars, chemicals and preservatives. Not to mention the fact that, while you can find store-bought versions that are clean with no added oils or sugars, they tend to be very expensive for the amount you're getting. It is way more cost-effective to DIY at home.

Food dehydrators are also a great tool for avoiding waste. Since I started using a dehydrator, I stopped worrying about food waste and the limited shelf life of a lot of produce and never hesitate to buy more fresh, seasonal produce if it looks good because I know that whatever doesn’t get consumed while it’s fresh, will get dehydrated and repurposed.

I tend to use the dehydrator a lot before I travel. Specifically, I will clear the produce from our fridge that we won’t get a chance to eat before we leave and come up with ideas for clean and healthy travel-friendly snacks that I can take with me on a plane or road trip. 

Instead of running to my favorite health food stores to load up on  overpriced snacks to bring with me, I look for things I need to use up in my fridge and make my own. I often slice and dehydrate lemons so I can make lemon water no matter where I am or what time of day it is; use sweet potatoes to make light and healthy chips; make raw granola using nuts or seeds that I can eat as a snack or as part of my breakfast; and dehydrate thick slices of fruit to make jerky or make fruit leathers using puréed fruit.

Recently I made two kinds of raw vegetable crisps using left over vegetable pulp from my juicer, along with a variety of seeds, herbs and spices. They were delicious and as good as any store-bought version I’ve tried. Whether you’re looking for a DIY travel-friendly snack, need to avoid food waste, or want to make a healthy snack to keep on hand at home, check out the two recipes below. Both versions are oil, grain and nut-free, fiber rich, high in protein and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. 

 

Raw Vegetable Crisps

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 8-12 hours | Yields: 8-10 medium sized crackers

Ingredients

(version one)

  • Pulp from one large cucumber
  • 2 tsp spirulina
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds, chopped
  • 2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds, chopped
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp pink salt

(version two)

  • Pulp from two medium-sized yellow zuchinni squashes
  • 2 tsp turmeric root powder
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 2 tbsp hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds, chopped
  • 2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds, chopped
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast + 1 tbsp for topping
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp pink salt

Directions

  • Place wet vegetable pulp in a medium sized bowl, and combine all remaining dry ingredients in a small bowl. mix well.
  • Combine dry ingredients and vegetable pulp; mix well using hands so that the nuts, seeds and spices are mixed evenly throughout the pulp.
  • Place mixture between two large pieces of parchment paper; using hands or rolling pin to spread the mixture until it is completely flat - approximately 1/4” thick.
  • Using a large spatula, divide the flattened mixture into smaller pieces and then move each piece onto dehydrator trays.
  • Bake at 145 degrees for 8-12 hours, until pieces are completely dry and crispy. Store in an airtight container. If prepared and stored properly, dehydrated foods can have a very long shelf-life.
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