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Dehydration is a method of preserving foods that involves removing water from vegetables, fruits, seafood and meats to help them last longer. With dehydration, you retain many of the health benefits of the vitamins and other nutrients in foods without having to worry about botulism. Dehydrated foods are easy to store and don't require refrigeration or freezing.

Here is a quick guide to DIY food dehydration to help you get started enjoying the many benefits of dry-food.

Getting Started

  1. Carefully select the foods that you want to dry. Select fruits and vegetables that are fresh and ready to eat. Fish, crab, lobster and other seafood and meats should also be as fresh as possible.
  2. Ready your foods the way you would to enjoy them. You need to do all of the cutting, slicing, mincing, trimming and chopping of your foods prior to dehydration. Foods in thinner 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch pieces will dry more quickly.
  3. If you're dehydrating any fruits, vegetables or plants that include skins or outer coverings, such as grapes or herbs, be sure to wash the foods first.
  4. When you're drying light-colored fruits and veggies, coat the foods with lemon juice or an ascorbic acid product to help prevent drying. Vegetables should also be steamed or blanched to help prevent them from becoming tough during dehydration

Successful Drying

  1. You can dry foods in the oven, in an appliance called a dehydrator or even in the sun. Dehydrators are by far the fastest and most efficient way to dry, so you may want to invest in one if you plant to prepare your own dry-foods frequently.
  2. Before you begin to dry and throughout the drying process, you should get the temperatures of the oven or dehydrator to 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and then maintain the temperatures at that level. Air should also be allowed to circulate through the space to ensure optimal results.
0 Comments | Posted in News Fruits & Vegetable Gardening Recipes By Karen B. Vance

Many people hear the terms “vegan” and “vegetarian” and believe that they mean the same thing. Actually, there are differences between the two when it comes to their respective diets.

What is the Vegan Diet?

The Vegan Diet or veganism is the practice of not consuming animal products both in terms of meats and in the products that animals produce such as milk and eggs. Being an Ethical Vegan also means abstaining from using animal products in any form which would include clothing for example. However, in terms of the diet a vegan does follow strict rules about what they eat.

The actual term vegan was first used by Donald Watson in 1944 when he co-founded the Vegan Society in the UK. The vegan diet has certainly increased in popularity over the years, especially after the turn of the 21st century when many restaurants and grocery stores began carrying more vegan-oriented foods. This popularity was increased when many high profile athletes, especially those in endurance sports began training while eating a vegan diet.

Vegan diets are generally high in dietary fiber, folic acid, Vitamins C and E, magnesium to name a few while being low in bad cholesterol, saturated fat and calories. However, vitamin supplements are often recommended for vegans because their diet is low in Vitamins B12 and D, calcium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids which are considered vital towards maintaining good health.

What is a Vegetarian Diet?

A vegetarian diet appears at first to be much like the vegan diet in that it avoids the consumption of animal products that includes poultry and fish. There are a number of reasons people choose a vegetarian diet, including respect for animals as well as protecting their own health. However, there are greater varieties to the vegetarian diet than the vegan one. In particular, the consumption of dairy products is generally accepted, although eggs are not included.

The practice of vegetarianism does go back for centuries in various forms. The modern version does offer some flexibility and variety that stretches from strict veganism to a more relaxed consumption of animal by-products. However, there are those that object to food packaging which often contains ingredients that are derived from animals.

A vegetarian diet in the traditional form does resemble a vegan diet to a great extent. However, the type of vegetarianism that is being pursued will dictate the types of foods that are consumed along with their packaging whereas a vegan diet is more strict and adhering to the avoidance of all animal products and by-products in general.

How Seaweed can Play a Role in Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

Seaweed is a vegetarian food that is gaining in popularity thanks to its many health benefits, including the vitamins and minerals it possesses for helping vegans and vegetarians lead stronger, healthier lives. Online stores such as Cantinastar for example offer seaweed snacks and free recipes that demonstrate how to prepare this particular food whether from freshwater or saltwater sources.

If you are pursuing a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, then adding seaweed to your diet can help fortify the body with iron and other important vitamins and minerals that leads to a healthier life.

0 Comments | Posted in News By Karen B. Vance

It’s not always true that eggs are harmful to a healthy heart.

It’s complicated. Cholesterol is not easily understood and over the years people have developed many misconceptions on the topic. It is known that high levels of cholesterol in the bloodstream do contribute to the risk of heart disease. But other things we supposedly know about cholesterol simply are not true. It’s important to know what is true and what is myth and in doing so you may actually be surprised.

Not All Cholesterol is bad for Our Health

Some cholesterol is actually needed for the body to properly function according to the American Heart Association. Cholesterol is a fatty, wax-like substance which is produced by our livers. Cholesterol is necessary in the formation of certain hormones and cell membranes. This means that there is good cholesterol that our body makes naturally but there is cholesterol which we ingest from food. It’s an excess of cholesterol that comes from food that is bad for us because it can cause a narrowing in the arteries which increases the risk of stroke or heart attack.

Eggs are a Good Source of Protein

No one disputes that eggs contain a high amount of cholesterol. If someone’s diet contains too much cholesterol there is a risk for heart disease due to a build-up in the arteries. But according to the American Heart Association eggs can be included in a healthy diet by decreasing the amount consumed of other foods high in cholesterol. It should not be ignored that eggs provide a great source of not only protein but nutrients such as lutein and zeaxanthin which are essential to healthy eyes. We can consume up to four eggs in a week without risking heart disease. The AHA suggests that on days we enjoy an egg in our diet we can just cut back on other foods which may contain high levels of cholesterol such as whole-fat dairy foods and red meat.

Kids Can Actually Develop High Cholesterol

Physicians treating adults are concerned about middle-aged people developing a problem with high cholesterol. But pediatricians have discovered that children who have a diet high in junk food and sugary desserts and who become obese as a result are developing high levels of cholesterol in their bloodstreams. This can eventually lead to heart disease. The Nemours Foundation recommends that kids in age groups 2 – 8 and in 12 – 16 who suffer from obesity, who have a diet high in fat or who are from a family with members who have high cholesterol need to have a cholesterol test when they see their pediatrician. If high cholesterol is found early it is much easier to control than when it’s discovered later in life. Parents must watch their kids’ diet and use recipes low in fat and sugar for snacks and meals. Healthy eating habits are learned early in life and can last a lifetime.

Cholesterol Medication is Not the Best Treatment

Although there are many effective cholesterol drugs on the market a healthy diet, exercise and losing weight can very often lower cholesterol in the bloodstream. Any medication is bound to have bad side-effects but living a healthier lifestyle only has good side-effects. If you log onto MayoClinic.com you will find that they recommend having less fat in your diet, reduce your intake of meat and dairy products, exercise for a minimum of a half hour a day and if you’re overweight, lose those excess pounds. Try this first before you take prescription medication. There are many free recipes online to help you change your diet. Whether it’s for a healthy snack, or an entire meal, you will discover that a healthy diet can be very satisfying and delicious to boot. Happy cooking!

0 Comments | Posted in News By Karen B. Vance

sundried cherry tomatoes on dehydrator

Healthy snacks are an important part of any healthy diet, and ensuring that there is plenty of variety in the snack foods that you eat will help you to maximize the health benefits of healthy snacking. If you're interested in cooking your own snacks, using a food dehydrator is one way to experiment with different ways of preparing seafood, fruits and vegetables.

What Is a Food Dehydrator?

A food dehydrator is an appliance that removes moisture from foods. It can be used with plants, meats and fish to eliminate moisture. Most fruits and vegetables get 80 to 90 percent of their volume from water while meats are half to three-quarters water. Food dehydrators remove this moisture and with it, the likelihood of food spoiling. Without moisture, bacteria can not readily grow in food, so dry snacks last for a long time.

Why Eat Dry Food?

There are many reasons why dry food recipes are great snack ideas. For one thing, dried foods are easy to take with you on the go because they typically don't require refrigeration, so they can be packed in a lunch bag or backpack as kids snacks or snacks for work without worrying about ice packs and other cooling solutions. Dry food is also incredibly nutritious. Unlike cooking food with heat, dehydrating food does not typically cause vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and other essential nutrients to break down. You also don't need to add fat, sugar or salt to foods to dry them. As a result, dry fruits, dry vegetables and dry fish provide plenty of health benefits while remaining low in calories, saturated fat, sugars and sodium.

How Do Dehydrators Work?

There are two main types of dehydrators: those that receive power from the sun and those that run on electricity. Most food dehydrators consist of three main parts. A heating element is used to raise the temperature inside of the dehydrator and cause the moisture in the food to evaporate without causing the food to fully cook. The fans and vents keep air circulating throughout the dehydrator and release the water vapor from the food to the outside of the appliance. The amount of time that it takes for a dehydrator to remove moisture from food depends on which type of food is being dried and the efficiency of the model. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours for foods to become fully dried.

What Are the Benefits of Dehydrators?

Foods can be dried without food dehydrators in the oven or outdoors in the sun; however, dehydrators greatly simplify making dry food at home. This is because dehydrators not only provide heat but also adequate air flow, helping to ensure best results. Of course, you don't have to purchase a dehydrator or hunt for free recipes to enjoy the health benefits and taste of dry food. Cantinastar has a wide range of dry seafood and dry fruits that make great snack ideas.

0 Comments | Posted in News By Karen B. Vance

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