recipes

Homemade Grape Fruit Leather

by Sally on November 12, 2014

One Ingredient Grape Fruit Leather from Real Mom NutritionFruit Roll-Ups are a regular fixture on the kid circuit, showing up at soccer games, parties, and even school snack time. But most of them have multiple added sweeteners, oil, synthetic dyes, and juice concentrate instead of actual fruit.

So I make my own in the oven as an occasional treat. I’ve tried all kinds of fruit, including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, peaches, and apples. I typically use a combination of fruit, lemon juice, and sugar. (Get my recipes for Strawberry Fruit Leather and Apple Cinnamon Fruit Leather).

As a Grapes From California Blogger Ambassador, I’ve spent time tooling around their recipe page. They already have a recipe for grape fruit leathers. But I wondered: Since grapes have such an intense, natural sweetness, could you skip the added sugar completely? I tried it, and it worked! Then I made a second batch without lemon, and my kids gave it the coveted double thumbs-up.

A one-ingredient recipe. Can’t beat that.

But I’m not going to sugar-coat it: Making homemade fruit leather can be tricky. And sometimes sticky. Whenever I post about fruit leathers here or on my Real Mom Nutrition Facebook page, I hear from at least one frustrated reader whose fruit leather flopped. So if you want to try your hand at homemade fruit leather, keep in mind my four top tips:

1. Use a Silpat. I know some people make fruit leather on parchment, but a Silpat baking mat is ideal for the job. I’ve had my Silpats for more than a decade and they’ve held up well. If you do a lot of baking, it’s definitely worth having.

2. Make it even. This is key. It helps ensure that your edges aren’t crispy while your middle’s still gooey. Use a spatula to spread your mixture on the Silpat. Then, holding the pan at each end, bang the pan on the counter a couple of times to evenly distribute the mixture across the baking mat.

3. Peek. A lot. Once the leather has been baking for about two hours, start checking it every 15 minutes or so. Depending on your oven and the thickness of your mixture, the total baking time may be more than three hours. The leather is ready when it still feels a little tacky but doesn’t come off on your finger when you touch it.

4. Don’t expect perfection. Some batches turn out better than others. Sometimes you’ll have a thick spot that just won’t dry. That’s okay. There’s a reason homemade leathers don’t look like the boxed kind, but in my book, that’s a trade-off worth making!

Homemade Grape Fruit Leather
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups fresh seedless grapes, rinsed and removed from stems
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (or the lowest your oven will go).
  2. Puree grapes in a blender until completely smooth.
  3. Pour into a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Spread mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a Silpat baking mat. Holding the pan firmly at each end, bang the pan on the counter to be sure the mixture is evenly distributed across the Silpat.
  5. Bake for 2-4 hours, checking frequently. The fruit leather is done when it’s sticky but doesn’t come off on your finger when lightly touched. Remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Cut into strips (a pizza cutter works great for this job) and place on parchment or waxed paper. Cut paper into strips and roll up.
  7. Store in airtight container for up to three days or in refrigerator for up to one week.

Disclosures: I’m happy to be working with Grapes from California as a Blogger Ambassador. I am compensated for my time. All opinions expressed are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through this link, your cost will be the same, but I will receive a small commission to help with operating costs of this blog. Thanks for your support!

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5 Foods I Don’t Buy Anymore

by Sally on November 2, 2014

Since starting this blog five years ago, I make a lot more food from scratch. Perhaps it’s because my kids are older and less demanding and no longer require me to be within two feet of them at all times. Perhaps it’s because I started paying much closer attention to ingredient lists. Or because my palate is becoming a bit more refined, preferring the taste of from-scratch to the taste of shelf-stable.

That being said, I also know my limitations. There are plenty of foods I’d like to make from scratch all the time, but I don’t want to spend my whole life in the kitchen (read: From-Scratch Cooking Confession: I Can’t Keep Up!). There are many foods I’ll make if I have extra time and energy, like bread or spaghetti sauce. Then there are the foods I always make myself, because compared to the store-bought version, they’re tastier (and usually cheaper) enough to make it worth my while.

Here are my top five:

1. Vinaigrette Dressing: We eat salads almost every night, and I used to buy a lot of bottled dressings. But it only takes minutes to make it ourselves.

Recipe for Quick Vinaigrette

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom Nutrition

2. Taco Seasoning: Tacos are practically a weekly fixture in our house, so we used to be stocked with seasoning packets. But when I started reading the fine print, I found questionable items like preservatives and even hydrogenated oils. Now I make a triple batch of this homemade seasoning and keep it in a jar in the pantry.

Recipe for Taco Potion #19

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom Nutrition

3. Waffles: My kids (and husband) love waffles. Years ago, Eggos were a staple in my grocery cart. Then I upgraded to Van’s. Then I got a waffle iron and everything changed. I make double batches of these on lazy weekend mornings, then squirrel them away in the freezer for weekdays.

Recipe for Yogurt & Flaxseed Waffles

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom Nutrition

4. Barbecue Sauce: My kids, like all little people, love to dip their food into various sauces. Many jarred barbecue sauce contains high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring, and preservatives. So we started making it ourselves and now prefer the taste.

Recipe for Homemade Barbecue Sauce

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom Nutrition

5. Pizza Dough: I’m a little obsessed with homemade pizza. Ever since tasting a friend’s dead-ringer-for-delivery homemade pizza, I’ve been experimenting with different crusts, techniques, and toppings (current parent favorite: spinach and sausage).

Here are the three pizza doughs in heavy rotation here:

Citizen Mom’s Homemade Pizza Dough
Perfect Pizza Crust from Dinner: A Love Story
Hometown Pizza from my book Cooking Light Dinnertime Survival Guide

5 Foods I Don't Buy Anymore from Real Mom NutritionWhat foods do YOU always make yourself?

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I Tried It: Juicing

October 2, 2014

I’ve been a smoothie girl for a long time. I make one nearly every day for breakfast and pack my Vitamix when I go on vacation. But I’ve also been intrigued by juicing. Like everyone else who watched the documentary “Fat Sick & Nearly Dead“, I wanted to run out and buy a top-of-the-line juicer immediately. But […]

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{Recipe} Peanut Butter Breakfast Shake

September 16, 2014

Breakfast is not my fifth grader’s favorite meal of the day. (My first grader, on the other hand, practically jumps directly from his bed into a seat at the kitchen island with a spoon in his hand.) I invented this breakfast shake one morning to sweeten the deal. It’s something fun and filling. I also love that it’s […]

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16 Yummy Ways To Get More Whole Grains

September 5, 2014

Switching from refined grains to whole grains is really a no-brainer for health. Unlike refined grains (think bread and pasta made with white flour), whole grains contain all the naturally-occurring parts of the grain. That means more protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals–and according to research, maybe even a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes […]

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{Recipe} An Easy & Delicious Cinnamon Quick Bread From 100 Days Of Real Food

September 3, 2014

Like so many others, I’ve followed Lisa Leake’s blog 100 Days of Real Food for several years. For those who don’t know the backstory, what started as her family’s experiment to eat no processed foods for 100 days (bringing separate food to parties, eschewing all white flour and sugar, and avoiding anything in a package with […]

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{Recipe} Whole Wheat Zucchini Muffins

August 14, 2014

This is a guest post by my intern, Hannah Bills, who blogs at Pretty Normal Diet. Over the last few months, Hannah has been helping me create recipes, take photographs, and brainstorm ideas, plus fetching my coffee and picking up my dry cleaning (kidding about that last part).  Hello all! My name is Hannah, sometimes known at Real Mom Nutrition […]

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{Recipe} Roasted Balsamic Brussels Sprouts

August 7, 2014

Poor, maligned Brussels sprouts. They’ve long been a punchline, shorthand for “yucky healthy food that nobody wants to eat”, and a dinnertime villain in children’s books–most likely because they were served boiled-to-mush one too many times by well-meaning parents. Now Brussels sprouts are finally getting their due. Roasting has become one of the most popular ways […]

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{Recipe} Real Simple Blueberry Jam

July 28, 2014

Blueberries are, hands-down, my favorite fruit. To me, it’s not really summer until I’ve picked many, many pounds at a local farm–then eaten so many that I get a stomachache. Still, I usually end up with leftovers. So I make muffins, pancakes, and fruit leathers and tuck a few bags away for the winter. I also love […]

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Why I Love My Old-School Recipe Book

July 23, 2014

Did you have a scrapbook as a child? I did. In the pages of mine are ticket stubs to U2 and Depeche Mode concerts, photos from church camp, and dried corsages from high school homecoming dances. I don’t know if kids today keep scrapbooks (at least the paper kind) but I’m so thankful for mine. It’s like a roadmap […]

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