Simple Fruit Leather

I really hate to throw away food. When I see that the produce I bought is getting old and will go bad soon, I try to transform it to extend its life to avoid waste. I have to say, however, that meal planing reduces and often eliminates waste as you are only buying what you need. Still, sometimes, fruits or vegetables get forgotten in a corner. This is what happened to two wonderful prunes this week.

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I few hours later, my two wrinkled prunes were transformed into a magnificent fruit leather that is eaten and not wasted. Cheers to that!

Here is what you need:

  • 2 prunes (or any other fruit that is getting old or very ripe: pears, bananas, apples, oranges, etc..)
  • 2 tbs ground almonds (optional but makes it more filling; use one table spoon per cup of fruit)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice (optional but helps reduce browning)

Here is what you do:

  1. Peel and pit your fruit. This makes your fruit leather smoother.
  2. In a food processor or blender, puree your fruit and ground almonds until smooth. If you are using fruits that have the tendency to brown (bananas, apples, pears for example) you can add a few tablespoons of lemon juice.
  3. On a lined cookie sheet or on your dehydrator mat covered with silicone paper, spread the pureed fruit evenly. Tap a few times to remove bubbles.
  4. If you are using a dehydrator, set to 145F or 60C and let sit for 4 to 8 hours depending on the thickness. If you are using your regular oven, set on the lowest temperature and keep the oven door open for 4 to 6 hours, checking often to avoid burning.
  5. Once dried up, cut the leather into strips, roll and store in an air-tight container.

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This is really super simple and so delicious! It makes for a great healthy, sugar-free snack that can easily be taken with you anywhere. You can also make it your own by adding nuts or seeds to the mix, or by combining different fruits. the texture of this is similar to fruit roll-ups without being overly sweet or filled with artificial coloring. And really, the hardest part of this recipe is to wait for it to be ready!

Let me know what you favourite fruit is for this or what you do with your not-so-fresh-anymore produce to avoid waste. And if you are looking for a dehydrator, I bought an Excalibur a few years ago, and it’s perfect! If you are in Canada, you can check out Upaya Naturals: that’s where I got mine, and the shipping was super quick.

 

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Christmas series: Fun, eco-friendly wrapings

If you celebrate Christmas with presents, you can fall into two categories: you are a wrapping paper serial killer who bursts open the gifts with no thoughts going to the wrapper, or you are a delicate being who uses scissors or a knife to open your gifts.

I have to say, I love keeping Christmas wraps to use in crafts, so I fall in the second category. My boyfriend? He’s a wrapping paper maniac: no paper shall resist!

Anyways, even though I like keeping wrapping paper, there comes a point where you have enough for a life time. What to do when you reach this point? Well, you try to find other ways to wrap your presents in the hope that others will do the same.

Not only are these ideas extremely simple, they are creative, and offer an extra gift to your friend or family member!

The first thing you want to check out when deciding to ban wrapping paper from your life is the Japanese art of Furoshiki. Using squares of fabric, this technique enables your to wrap any object in an elegant and fun way. Moreover, most of these are made to carry the actual object around: no gift bags necessary! There are plenty of examples on Youtube: how to wrap rectangular gifts, bottles, and even round objects. I improvised a little bit on this theme using scarves, but you could use tea towels or kitchen linens too. This way, not only do your friends get the gift, they also get a scarf or towel they’ll be able to use!

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Funny wrapping for a book!

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Another thing that you can do is customize cotton bags according to the gift you are giving. A few months ago, a colleague gave me the cutest knitting bag ever. You can get inspired online and draw away, or be poetic and write down your favourite quotes or poems. All you need are cotton bags, a fabric pen, both of which you can find at your local craft store, and a witty imagination. Not only does this double up as gift wrap and gift bag, your friend will be able to reuse the bag again and gain!

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How witty is that knitting bag?

Finally, instead of buying bows and other throwable decoration, why not go for fairy lights? These really bring a magical touch to any wrapping, and can be reused by your family members to make a fairy light votive using a simple mason jar. Plus, no need to worry as these are LED lights and so do not warm up.

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With fairy lights, everything gets whimsical!

I really hope these few pointers give you ideas as to how to wrap you Christmas gifts in a fun, original and Eco-friendly way. Let me know what you think and how you are planning to wrap your presents this year!