Homemade 'Fruit-by-the-Foot'!!

I've always wanted to try making my own fruit leather because it seemed like something that had way too much sugar{and other junk!} for being 'real' fruit. I also love unrolling it. Let's be honest, that's the real reason any of us ever ate Fruit-by-the-Foot. I started thinking about it lately because I've been taking care of my friend's little girl in the evenings and I'm constantly aware of what I'm feeding her, and wanted to give her a healthy treat/snack. It’s so easy these days to grab things off the shelf at the store and keep them in our cupboards for when we don’t have time to make something, but if you have an afternoon you can whip these up and have them for your last minute snack attacks! Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of great wholesome products on the market now that are free from all the things we cannot pronounce, however, they tend to be quite costly so it’s always nice to have an option to make it at home and truly know what you are putting in you and your families bodies!

Speaking of cost-effectiveness, I decided to try a batch of these with fresh fruit and a batch with previously frozen fruit to see if the outcome was changed at all. I nearly started to cry thinking of all my beautiful organic strawberries being blended up because they are not cheap! {I feel like Dorothy when it comes to the cost of fresh, in-season, fruits/veggies in New York - ‘Toto, we’re not in LA anymore’} I had a bag of mixed berries in my freezer and I am happy to announce that the outcome was just as good as the batch with fresh fruit, so you needn't cry over blending fresh organic berries to make these at home!

Homemade Fruit-by-the-Foot // Makes 6 {1.5” x 14”} strips

3 cups diced fruit or berries (if using frozen, thaw & drain first)

1 T local honey (optional, depends on the sweetness of your berries!)

*Because this takes a few hours in a low oven, I recommend doubling or tripling the batch, or trying a couple flavors, and baking them all at the same time, using one pan for each batch.

Prepare a half sheet pan by lining it with a silicone mat if you have it - this was the first time using mine as I always bake on parchment and it made it SO easy, however, lining with parchment will work too! Preheat oven to 185 degrees. If the lowest your oven goes is 200, just turn more often and check earlier!

Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until mixture becomes a smooth puree and there are no odd-sized fruit chunks. Pour down the center of your prepared pan, leaving a few inches around the edges. Using an offset spatula, smooth the puree into as-even-as-possible layer that reaches to about one inch of the edges. Make the thickness about ⅛” all the way around. Too-thin areas will burn and too-thick areas will take longer, resulting in an uneven batch. If you are making another batch, follow the same process as above for your second pan.

Place sheet pan(s) in oven and set your timer for 1 hour (start at 45 min for hotter ovens); when timer goes off, rotate pan 180 degrees, and top to bottom if making a couple batches. Set timer for another hour. The edges will start to look dry and the center will still be puffy; rotate in the same manner and set for another hour. Rotate again and set for 30 minutes, depending on how your center looks - mine took about 4 hours total. You want the whole sheet to look like the edges, essentially to look like fruit leather - any seeds will be pronounced bumps across the sheet - you want no ‘puffy’ parts remaining as they will stick to the pan and not peel up with the rest of the sheet. Remove from oven and allow pans to cool on wire racks.

Place a piece of parchment that is slightly bigger than the leather in front of the pan, on your counter or table. Once cooled, peel up the sheet of fruit (it’s not delicate, you won’t break or tear it) and place it in the center of the parchment. If the edges cracked a bit, it’s okay, they just got a bit drier than the rest and you can trim that off. Using kitchen shears, trim short edges of parchment to within about ¼” of the fruit. Trim off any ‘crispy’ long edges, making it flush with the parchment. Now just cut them lengthwise into six strips, or more if you want smaller serving sizes for smaller hands. Roll up each piece and store seam-side-down in an airtight container on your counter, as long as it’s not too warm! You can put a cute sticker on it to keep it from unrolling when you pop it in a lunch bag or in your purse for a snack on the go!

Fruit-by-the-foot

There are so many options with this - I made one batch of strawberry/mango and another with blackberry/blueberry/raspberry and they were both so delicious! I think next time I want to try striping a couple flavors so you get two in one with flavor and color! You can also cut each sheet into four large rectangles and have your kids use cookie cutters to make shapes for a fun after-school snack/activity! Whatever you do, make it work for your family and have fun doing it.

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie


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Wellness Wednesday: Why I'm not over Overnight Oats

I realize that the concept of overnight oats was a huge Pinterest phenomenon and is not quite as hip as it once was, however, I was late to the party and I really can’t get enough. Also, if I like something, I will eat it; plain and simple. My love is in two parts - the ease of making and the countless variation options. I love breakfast, I have never ‘forgotten’ to eat it (or any meal for that matter) and I like that this option is cold without being cereal. I actually love it in the afternoon as well since it can be almost dessert-like and is a much healthier snack choice, with much more sustenance, than whatever else I might reach for at 3:30! Here is my basic recipe, and what I added this time around to kick it up a notch.

Overnight Oats // Serves One

½ cup regular rolled oats

½ cup milk of your choice, dairy or non

Dash of vanilla

Cinnamon to taste - I like a lot!!

1 spoonful plain greek yogurt, optional, but adds great texture

Topping ideas:

1 tsp brown sugar, maple syrup or honey

Fruit

Raw shelled hempseed

Chopped almonds or pecans

Chia seeds

Bee pollen

More cinnamon {duh.}

Stir together all non-topping ingredients in a jar or bowl (if you are using brown sugar to sweeten, add it here to allow it to dissolve), cover, and let sit in the fridge overnight or 6-8 hours. When you are ready to eat it, stir it up to make sure the milk and cinnamon are evenly distributed. From here, if you like OG oatmeal you can add your honey or syrup, if using, and just eat it up! This time around, I used frozen-from-summer mixed berries, thawed, honey that is harvested in my hometown, hempseed, and bee pollen.

Overnight Oats

If you have never tried some of these toppings, give them a shot as they are great for your overall health and for keeping you satiated. Hempseed contains 10g of protein & 3g Omega-3s per serving and it adds a nutty type crunch to the oats without using nuts! Bee pollen is a natural energizer, rich in protein, aids in digestion and is good for the immune system, plus the golden color looks super pretty when sprinkled over your dish. Chia seeds are full of antioxidants and have 11g fiber & 4g protein per serving, but if you have a hard time with the seed texture, you can add it to the overnight process but you may need to add a little more liquid as they like to soak it right up and make a jelly-like texture.

All in all, I love this as a healthy choice any time of day, and sometimes get a craving right as I fall asleep and will actually trudge back to the kitchen to take no more than a minute to mix it up, then head back to bed knowing that I am waking up to a great meal choice! Give this a shot once or twice a week; using a mason jar keeps it portable to take to work for you and making it the night before allows for extra time in the morning, whether it's to get the kids out the door or to just have more. time. in. the. morning.

With a full heart and an empty plate,


Katie

Twisted No-Bake Fudgies

The heat wave in Los Angeles this week was a little bit much for me. I realize that the warm weather will take some getting used to, however, 90+ degrees in April was a little unexpected! I usually fail when I try to work against the heat, so I chose to work with it and make a version of a childhood favorite of mine from our family cookbook - No-Bake Fudgies! I had a hankering for peanut butter (pretty much every day of my life) so I decided to work it into the recipe to create a tasty little treat highlighting two of the best things on earth.

Twisted No Bake Fudgies

Twisted No-Bake Fudgies // Makes 38

1/2 c butter

1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder 

1/2 c milk

1 c brown sugar, lightly packed

2/3 c sugar

2/3 c peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

3 c oats

2/3 c flaked coconut

1/2 chopped pecans

Place a saucepan over medium heat; be sure it's big enough that you can combine all the ingredients in it since this is a one-pot-shot. Add butter, cocoa powder, milk, and sugars. Once the butter has melted and ingredients are combined, bring to a boil, stirring when needed, for a full 3 minutes. This allows the sugars to melt and brings together the ingredients so when the cookies cool, they set completely and are not grainy. Reduce heat and add the peanut butter (I used a combo of creamy & crunchy for texture) and vanilla; give it a few stirs to combine, then remove from heat. Add oats, coconut, and pecans, stirring to incorporate all ingredients.  

While the mixture cools slightly, line two baking sheets with parchment, or just on the counter/table if you have the space. If you live in a warmer climate...or want to eat them faster...having them on a baking sheet allows you to flash-set them in a fridge or freezer.

Using a small ice cream scoop or a regular ol' spoon, drop dough by the 2-tablespoonfull-ish onto parchment. Using this method, and allowing for some tastes, you should yield about 38 cookies. Again, if your house is too warm to set these, just pop them in the freezer to set, and store in the fridge if needed.

No Bake Break

I am not usually one for a glass of milk, but for some reason it just seemed like a good fit, especially in the vintage mug I picked up at an antique mall in Long Beach. As kids, this treat was always a favorite of ours and I love the memories it brings back...especially our sticky, chocolate-covered faces and fingers due to the fact we were never patient enough to let them set! These are great to make with the little ones in your life, and a nice treat to whip up for any gluten-free guest you may have - just be sure to use gluten-free oats if they are highly sensitive. You can even go dairy free and use soy/almond milk and vegan butter - Earth Balance is the go-to for my family and I. Get crazy and add any other favorite ingredients you may have lying around - marshmallows perhaps? Yum! 

With a full heart and am empty plate,

Katie

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