Thursday, October 24, 2013

DIY Healthy & Simple Fruit Roll-Ups

Who doesn't love fruit roll-ups?

They are good for just about anyone, any age. Great for school lunches, or lunches for your spouse. Not only are they delicious, satisfying that sweet tooth, but they are also HEALTHY

Recently I decided to attempt my hand at creating these fruit roll-ups. My son, as well as a friend of mine, her son, have many food allergies and she recently had to go on the Total Elimination Diet where the only fruit she could eat were pears. So, in hopes of finding some different and creative ways to give her another snack, I decided to make pear fruit roll-ups. But I can't wait to try other fruits and veggie combinations! So for the sake of this tutorial - this is based on the pear Fruit Roll-ups, but feel free to sub any fruit you would like. 

So without further Ado...

Step 1: Preheat your oven to 170 degrees (the lowest it will likely go)
Step 2: Gather your fruit and/or veggies, whatever you choose - canned, fresh, frozen, whatever. Puree in either food processor or blender until you get it to a sort of applesauce, or even chunky applesauce (depending on your preference) consistency.

Step 3: Add sweetener (optional!). I like to use organic sugar, but you can use regular sugar, honey, stevia, agave nectar, pretty much anything, and use as much as you would like. For the large can of pears, I added about 1 Tbsp of sugar (I like sweet!). I have also read that using the sweetener helps the roll-up to be the most pliable, but I'm really not sure about that. If you can go without the sugar, by all means, give it a whirl and come back and tell us how it went. Some people also like to use a little lemon juice, but again, I have not tried that to say whether it makes a difference in color, taste, or pliability. 

Step 4: Spread a thin layer on a piece of parchment paper placed on a baking sheet, or you can use silicone baking mats. If you have silicone mats - great! If not, parchment paper works just fine, but be prepared to have wrinkles due to the moisture in the mixture. Try to make the layer as even as possible, but maybe making the edges just a little thicker than the center as they tend to cook fastest.

See how thin this layer is?
 Step 5: Place your baking sheets into the oven - but load them up and get as many as you can in there! 

They may cook differently depending on the baking sheet and where they are in the oven.
 Step 6: Set your timer to check on them every hour. I found that mine took anywhere from 2 hours to 4 hours depending on how thin my layer was and where the baking sheet was in the oven. You will want to take it out when it is more tacky or 'bouncy', but not sticky.

These were in the oven for the same amount of time. See how different they look?
 Tip: See the photo above? I have a dilemma now because the one on the right is overcooked and will be crispy and break off making it not roll-able. But don't worry! It can be fixed, and actually, I like the 'fixed' version better than the one on the left!! Lightly brush water over all the darkened parts, or over the whole thing, and place back in the oven for another minute or two until it is no longer wet. When you take it out it will be the perfect pliability for rolling! You may have to do this for the lighter colored ones as well - usually the edges get a bit crispy.

 Step 7: After removing from the oven, flip the parchment paper over onto another piece of parchment paper and begin rubbing the back so that it loosens the roll-up, making sure to really focus on the edges. Start to peel the backing away leaving the roll-up.

The roll-up after the backing has been peeled away.
 Step 8: Cut the roll-up into strips. I also like to trim all of the edges so that I get nice, neat, clean lines.

 Step 9: Cut a piece of parchment around the roll-up and begin to roll! You can fasten it with a twist tie or tape around the parchment to keep it together (tape won't stick, so you will have to create a 'tab', or tape around itself).

 Step 10: Enjoy!

 So to summarize:

Preheat oven to 170 degrees, puree fruit and/or veggies, add sweetener or lemon juice, spread thin on parchment or silicone baking mats, take out of oven between 2 and 4 hours, flip parchment and rub to release roll-up, cut into strips and roll! 

There are ENDLESS combinations that you can make! I'm most excited to try a strawberry combination of some kind. And, I'm interested to see what some of them would taste like if I threw carrot in there, or even some avocado (yum!). Get creative! This is a fantastic way to keep things healthy by getting some of those fruit and veggie servings to your family. They should store in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place, or in the refrigerator for several weeks.

What combination do you want to try?

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