I'm the Mom the other moms warn you about.
You know, the one who sneaks things like spinach into the most unexpected places.
Places the children (or Handy Hubby) will never find out about.
Like in their pizza.
Or carrots in their pasta.
Beets in their smoothies.
Zucchini in their muffins.
I really could go on and on.
Many of you may ask: WHY???? WHY WOULD YOU TORTURE YOUR CHILDREN THAT WAY???
(Go ahead, leave the Handy Hubby out of the equation if you want. He knows, most of the time...)
I don't consider it a form or torture, in any way shape or form, and I know that many of my readers are MOMS, (or dads) who are trying to get more good stuff into their families with only three meals and two snacks a day....not counting the chocolate snack that is the required Mom-only snack that we sneak in the closet or laundry room when in dire need of SOMETHING to get us through the day.
You see, I have long been a proponent that unless there are food allergies, what they simply dont know wont hurt them, and three children later, ALL OF MY KIDS willingly, cheerfully, and sometimes annoyingly (to others) munch down vegetables and fruits of all sorts. I even have to lock one of my twins out of the garden each year because otherwise she is down on hands and knees grazing her way through anything remotely "veggie-looking". At first it was cute. Now, not so much.
But, I also recognize that sometimes, getting enough good and healthy nutrition into my family is a challenge when they are stuck on a macaroni-and-cheese-or-bust holdout.
So for all of you out there, let me tell you something. If you cook it, puree it, spread it out on a non-stick sheet, dehydrate, then turn it into a powder and slip it into everyday foods, you are getting ahead of the game without them even knowing it.
And THAT is what I do.
What can you put vegetable or fruit powders into? Well, what CAN'T you put it into? Did you know that you can actually make regular mashed potatoes almost HALF cauliflower before the taste is noticeable? Or how about coloring fun homemade with carrots, spinach, or beet powders? How about sneaking some zucchini or carrot powder into your next cookies, or sweet breads? Remember all those crazy pumpkins that we processed back before Thanksgiving (and may or may not have a few left gracing my dining room corner??*ahem*). Yeah, there are Few things in the world that I can not sneak that powder into at this point that they even taste.
You are increasing your fiber intake and nutrient intake every time you use one of these. You are slowly moving your way to better health by trying for five veggies in each meal, if you do what we do.
And again, if you dont have a garden during the summer, you can do this with canned fruits and veggies. You can do it with veggies you pick up on sales during the year, or from the farmer's market throughout the summer. Just remember to cook it (it is already cooked in the can), and puree it, then dry it. I have shown you through a simple tutorial using my very last bag *sniff sniff* of frozen tomatoes from my 2012 garden. Beneath the pictures, please see my ideas and links for using the powders, as well as the items I am suggesting for doing this.
Making High Nutrient-High Fiber Veggie and Fruit Powders for Eating
Yep, the very last tomatoes. I have been saving them for a special occasion, like bruschetta, or a pasta topping over homemade spinach pasta when tossed with garlic, and little olive oil, and a garnish of sea salt. Instead, I used them for you. You are welcome. :)
I pulsed these in my food processor for about twenty seconds. Yes, I left the seeds in,
but that is a personal preference.
Next I took one of my non-stick sheets (called para-flexx sheets by the Excalibur company) and spread out the puree as thin and evenly as I could.
And here is a simple tip for you. If you have only a few para-flexx sheets, you can use the liners from a box of cereal that you would otherwise throw away, and it works beautifully. I have often done fruit leathers this way as well. you can cut them to fit, and overlap.
Now remember, we were talking about cooking things down and using them in purees? Pulsing them in your food processor? I use my Nesco pressure cooker all the time for this. That is butternut squash, which, by the way, makes an amazing addition to banana bread, muffins, or even in macaroni and cheese. No kidding, just makes for a better tasting meal. Try it in the sauce on pizza. Mix it into a box of stuffing mix and spread it over a casserole.
And of course, you know, you can season them. If you want to make a tomato-based powder that will be used exclusively for Mexican flavored dishes, then by all means, lob in some chili powder and cumin. Flavor it with salt and pepper, like I did above. Add some nutmeg and cinnamon to pumpkin.
Anything you can come up with in your imagination, you can try.
And how does it end up? Well this is my larger glass mixing bowl that holds 8 cups of liquid. It is almost completely filled with pieces of dried tomato puree.
Can you see how paper thin these are? Amazing, fragile, and a true flavor explosion in your mouth. At this point I simply put it right through my food processor again and had a fine, rich powder that went into a jar and onto the shelf. Simple.
How can you use these???
Well, other than the ideas I have given you here today on the blog, be sure to come back tomorrow as I teach you to combine ALL the things we have been covering and learn to make complete meals with them. Canned foods, dried foods, fruit leathers and veggie powders...all in a couple posts chock full of mind-boggling combos that hopefully will help you see the big picture that we go by around here.
Here are my recommendations for equipment, books, and extras to go along with today's post. Thank you so much for looking and for those of you who order if you can, because it helps support my family with all that I do here at The Welcoming House.
Many blessings to you and yours,