Tag Archives: dehydrator

Fructose: Friend or Foe?

Earlier this month, Mr. Jack & I planted 3 fruit trees in our yard. Two of them are multi-graft stone fruits and #3 is a Fuji apple, the only apple which is recommended for our slightly-too-warm gardening zone. We plan to have a fancy new dehydrator by the time the crops start ripening next year, adding a whole new dimension to trail food prep!

We do eat a lot of dried fruit while backpacking, mayb
e more than a ½ cp per day. That’s considerably more than we generally eat at home.Our average fresh fruit consumption is one lone apple–less than 9.5 g of fructose, since we tend toward the tangy rather than the sweet. I did binge on persimmons earlier this year, which average 10.6 grams, and then there are those summer stonefruits, plums (1.2) & apricots (1.3). Last year I was a little concerned about the relatively high sugar content, but I got over it. Dried fruit remains one of the simpliest, tastiest ways to consume calories on the trail.

But recently I read an article about agave syrup on Dr. Mercola’s website (you might have to sign up to read the whole thing), which mentioned the dangers of eating more than 25g of fructose a day. Now, that sure seems like a lot of fructose to me! But it got me to thinking: how much fructose might be in that half-cup of dried fruit? I do my best to avoid sugar at home. Am I overdoing it on the trail just because I’m super-burning calories?

So guess what I did? Yep: I did the math. Turns out that half-cup of dried fruit could contain between 34g (all apples) or up to 87g (all raisins). Whew. Easy on the raisins, there, when you’re mixing up that fruit.

Turns out, though, that if I’d kept reading, I could have spared myself the word problems:

“Exercise can be a very powerful tool to help control fructose in a number of ways. If you are going to consume fructose it is BEST to do so immediately before, during or after INTENSE exercise as your body will tend to use it directly as fuel and not convert it to fat Additionally exercise will increase your insulin receptor sensitivity and help modulate the negative effects of fructose.”

Despite the fact that backpacking might be considered an intense exercise (if done correctly), I’m still going light on the raisins.

And I’m still going to stay away from the agave syrup. What will I use instead?

Lundberg’s Organic Brown Rice Syrup. That’s right: rice syrup. Not just because I love rice, but because it is remarkably thick, golden & sticky (just like honey) while being less sweet than sugar, honey, agave syrup or maple syrup. So it provides the same delicious binding with a lot less, well, sweetness. Some of us like that sort of thing.

Here’s the sugar breakdown for Lundberg’s Brown Rice Syrup, thanks to Diana Lopez-Vega!

Glucose (dextrose) 20-25%
Maltose 25-30%
Other Carbohydrates 26-36%

Of course, it’s all still sugar, but as a tablespoon of the syrup has only 11 grams of sugar, even I would have a hard time agitating against it. Now, you still might want to account for all the fructose in that dried fruit, but please don’t make me do any more math!.dropcap:first-letter{>float:left;>color:black;>font-size:250%;>}>

Food you can eat! (probably)

After freezing 4-plus gallon of pomegranate nibs, and eating more than a few, I suddenly had the inspiration to dehydrate some. What a great addition to my backpacking menu! The tangy, sweet, crunchy red little jewels would certainly add some zest and–oh yes–antioxidants to the usual trail food. Dried pomegranate nibs are used in Indian cooking,* I’d heard, so obviously they dried well. Right? Right!

I had a quart of freshly shelled pips that I spread on paper circles on the 5 dehydrator trays in the early afternoon. Before going to bed that night, I re-stacked the trays since the bottom one was looking pretty close to done. By morning, before tea, everything was dry. Sticky, but dry. Yum! A quart had reduced to just over a cup. Not as red, but just as sweet, tangy & crunchy and certainly more appropriate for hiking food.

Aside: As usual, the whole fruit is better for you than the juice alone. Pomegranate seeds provide most of the antioxidents and the fiber. But don’t feel compelled to eat the rind!

Honestly, I don’t have any idea how I’m going to incorporate these delicious dried nibs into backpacking food, but I did make a scrumptious at-home treat by mixing a few tablespoons into some raw almond butter & honey. Candy! Just as good as the “fudge” I’d made a few days earlier with raw pumpkin seed butter, Dagoba cocoa and backyard honey. I’m thinking that recipe might work for backpacking, especially if I put it in one of those squeeze tubes. (Those 2 weeks ranting about sugar must have activated my sweet tooth. Hmm.)

For backpackers who have hot breakfast cereal, dried pom nibs would be great in oatmeal, cream of wheat or rice porridge, I bet. Maybe I’ll just drop a spoonful into my morning tea and eat ’em with a spoon once I get to the bottom. Or make some kind of savory pom cracker …

I did try a zucchini nut cracker on the dehydrator, too, but it had too much fat, even for me, and didn’t seem sturdy enough to go backpacking. I’m going to experiment with it and report back. In the meantime, if you’d like to try the original recipe, you can visit The Sunny Raw Kitchen I like to browse the raw food recipes for easy dehydrator foods. Sometimes they are good for backpacking & sometimes not.

Next time, I promise: the pease porridge recipe for which everyone is awaiting so eagerly. It’s just not as pretty as pomegranates!

*More About That: Anardana powder (ground, dried pomegranate seeds) is used as a spice in Indian cooking to add a sweet/sour flavor. It is also a thickener, I’ve heard. The blog Life Begins @ 30 provides a recipe for using anardana in a potato dish! Too bad I don’t eat potatoes …


DodieKakes, aka Ginger Food Bars

Hooray! Managed to gather up all the ingredients, measure & mix ’em & make good notes!

The recipe created 50 cakes @ an average “wet” weight of 1.1 oz (or 33 grams) and a total caloric load of 4,970 calories.

I cut the batter into smallish 2″x2″ squares, ending up with 50 cakes. Three of these, after dehydrating, equaled the standard DodieKake serving of 2.5 oz.

Per standard 2.5 oz serving, here are the Dodie-Kake details (percentages rounded):

  • 314 calories (125.6 calories/oz)
  • 52% carbohydrates @ 43g
  • 40% fat @ 14g
  • 8% protein @ 7g
  • 6g fiber
  • 23g sugar
  • 462g sodium

Here’s the recipe, along with some extra pictures of the process. You can get more details at Red Elephant’s Aug 25 Daily Plate.

Aside: I toast most of the seeds & grains before putting into the mix because I prefer that taste & texture. They’d be fine raw. Another option would be to buy roasted pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, etc. This recipe does adapt well, so feel free to experiment with a variety of nuts, seeds, grains, sweeteners & dried fruits.
For grating, I used the 6×6 attachment on my Cuisinart food processor. I also used the food processor to mix up the wet ingredients, as you’ll see in the photo.

DodieKake Recipe
DRY: mix together in big bowl

1 C pepitas
2 C raisins
1 C quinoa flakes
0.25 C whole flax seeds
0.25 C sesame seeds
0.25 C quinoa/millet grain
1 C puffed millet
2 large carrots, grated
1 medium apple, grated
2 oz fresh ginger, grated
2 Tbs turmeric

WET: put in food processor

0.5 C almond butter
0.5 C almond meal
1 C hummus mix
1 C water
0.5 C honey
1 C dates, pitted
(about 10 huge, juicy, fresh medjool dates)

Working with half of each, MIX wet into dry
Pat out onto cutting board & cut into 25 squares, about 2″x2″ (1.1 wet weight/33g)
Spatula onto parchment paper circles on dehydrator trays
—Alternatively, use an ice cream scoop for “rounds” of 1.6 oz (46g)

Nutritional facts based on a 2.5 oz dehydrated weight per serving.

Dehydrating takes less than 48 hours. I like ’em to be a little chewy, but you can also dry them crispier.

We eat these as a morning snack/breakfast food. On the JMT, I started putting one in my morning tea, letting it soften & eating it with a spoon right from the tea cup.