I’d been intrigued by dehydrated foods for a while, seeing more and more raw vegan recipes which were made more realistic to non raw versions of foods (like cookies) through dehydration and also maintaining full nutritional benefits.
I became particularly interested whilst working with Annie Oliverio on her cookbook, Crave,Eat,Heal which included a number of dehydrated recipes. I recall making two of the recipes on the lowest setting of my oven – the High Raw Blueberry Granola and the ‘Parmesan’ Cheez. They both worked, but they had a very different result to the recipes’ intentions and without a properly controlled low temperature system, it is difficult to ensure nutrient maintenance since many ovens and mine especially, are out of sync and are hotter (or colder) than the dial says. Furthermore, the long duration required to slowly dehydrate foods means you won’t be able to use your oven for a long time! Whereas with a dedicated dehydrator, it doesn’t affect other cooking, it takes its time but that’s what it’s designed to do, leaving the oven free to cook dinner and grill bread for breakfast when you realise your granola is still soggy in the morning despite an overnight session in the oven!The first time I made Annie’s Granola, after a few hours I became impatient and cranked up the dial just a little bit to speed things along. Of course this cooked the granola, albeit slowly, and the fresh blueberries burst to a jammy blanket. It was delicious mind. When I made it again, with hands shackled away from impatient temperature meddling, it was a more ‘dried out’ than cooked affair but it was much darker in colour than it was meant to be and I couldn’t get the blueberries to actually dehydrate to a chewy texture in any reasonable amount of time before calling it quits.
Luckily my oven has a fan but for many years I didn’t have fan ovens and I can only imagine how much harder it would have been then. So overall, the granola tasted gorgeous but without a dehydrator it didn’t have the pretty colour variation of the different components and it didn’t have the same keeping quality and probably lost a fair amount of nutrients.
So this was it, at that point, I added a proper dehydrator to my wish list! So you can imagine how ecstatic I was when I was given one for review by Vida.
I was also given an 8 in 1 multi cooker, another appliance I was more than happy to try. I am a kitchen gadget and appliance addict and my larder holds more electronics than store cupboard essential foods.This multi cooker took away the need for some appliances I already had (like a rice cooker) and some I had on my wishlist like a slow cooker.
Easy to use, easy to clean design.
Clear temperature adjustment.
Not too bulky, fits on a kitchen side easily during use and stores in cupboard space.
Affordable – £24.99 (at time of posting)
No mesh sheets included and large holes on trays makes it difficult to use for smaller foods.
Minimal instruction and safety guidelines or recipe ideas included.
Unclear what can safely be used to line trays for non-stick or for smaller items.
8 in 1 Multi Cooker:
Versatile – fry, boil, slow cook, hot pot, stir-fry, deep fry and grill or steam.
Easy to clean non stick pan.
Even heating and maintains temperature well.
Heats very quickly.
Large surface area is perfect for stir frying.
Great accessories included such as a grilling rack, frying basket and straining spoon.
Affordable – £29.99
Unclear setting adjustment – one must always refer to the manual for the temperature setting for each purpose such as the temperature for deep frying versus slow cooking. The 8 uses are numbered on the front which is confusing as it suggests there is a function setting. E.g it says 5. Fry but there is no corresponding dial to select function 5, only a temperature dial. A temperature dial is good for manual manipulation but a second dial with pre programmed settings for each function would have been much more sensible.
These are like a hybrid between a granola bar and an oatmeal raisin cookie. They are yummy enough for a treat and to satisfy a craving but healthy enough for a great nutrient dense breakfast. So a cookie you can feel smug about eating! You can of course adjust spices and flavourings as you wish, use different dried fruits, add nuts, other superfood powders like maca or lucuma or even add chocolate chips and vanilla instead of the citrus. I find cashew butter has the least prominent flavour but I love to use crunchy peanut butter. The recipe below is my favourite flavouring combination.
Date sugar is ground very dry dates. You can use another sweetener like unrefined sugar, coconut sugar or maple or agave syrup. Use the same quantity of dry sweetener but 1/4 cup less of liquid sweetener so 1/2-3/4 cup depending on your sweetometer. You should add syrup with the nut butter. If using syrup you shouldn’t need any water to bind and may find it easier to form cookies using an ice cream scoop or a spoon as the dough will be more sticky.
Ingredients: Makes 12 Cookes
- 2 cups oats
- 3/4-1 cup date sugar* (see note above)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 2 tbsp ground chia seeds
- 1 tbsp baobab powder (optional)
- 1 cup dried mixed fruit, soaked
- Zest of a lemon or orange (optional)
- 1/2 cup nut or seed butter
- Water to bind
- In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients including the dried fruit and zest. Then work in the nut butter with your hands, scrunching the ingredients together to form a rubble. Add water a tablespoon at a time and work it in until the dough adheres into balls of dough.
- Roll the dough into golf ball sized spheres then holding it in the palm of your non dominant hand, press down with the dominant hand to form a thick disc cookie, about 1.5 cm or so thick. Place on dehydrator sheets and set the temperature to 45’C/113’F for 3 hours. Rotate the sheets and continue the machine for another 3-5 hours or until the cookies are dry and firm to touch but still chewy and soft inside.
Very low in sodium
High in manganese
Very high in vitamin C