For thousands of years, ancient cultures have used the heat of the sun to preserve excess harvested food. Air drying of foods preserves nutrients in a unique manner and at a chemical level dried foods can ‘re-activated’ by soaking or if eaten dry, by the introduction of digestive fluids, in the body.
De-hydrating or drying foods also concentrates the flavours of the ingredients, intensifying flavours and giving different consistencies to raw foods.
Over time, chefs have started to experiment with creative combinations of ingredients to make tasty and different flavoured alternatives to dietary staples. These include biscuits, crackers, pizza bases, pie crusts, sprouted grain breads and flavoured vegetable chips.
The nutritional advantage
Although used in all areas of culinary preparation dehydrated foods have become increasingly popular with health seekers who consume a high level of plant and raw foods in their diet. Drying at low temperatures (rather than cooking) leaves many nutrients in a chemically similar state to the raw ingredients. Heating raw foods above 60⁰C brings about marked chemical changes.
When organic ingredients are used there are additional nutritional and environmental benefits. Higher levels of essential fatty acids and phyto-nutrients (anti-oxidants) have been observed in Organic foods.
Tasty, healthy snacks and meal accompaniments:
Crackers and other de-hydrated foods can be eaten as a quick grab and go snack either alone or with an (ideally raw) seed or nut butter spread. Better still, pile them high with sprouted beans and seeds. You can use slices of tomato or cucumber (when in season).
Crumbled de-hydrated crackers can be delicious and tasty additions to big bowls of fresh raw vegetables and sprouted beans and seeds. They can also be eaten ‘on the side’ with a big fresh raw salad bowl.
It’s best to eat de-hydrated foods with some fresh, raw foods as this will provide water content to re-hydrate them.
Although there are several brands of organic de-hydrated crackers available, Lara makes hers without the use of Nuts. Having had problems with food sensitivities, her recipes avoid the more common allergens.
By Living Food Nutritionist Gareth Edwards BSC
Gareth Edwards BSc DipION mBANT