Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sad tale with Happy dehydrator ending...especially for a person with diabetes!

Disclaimer! This is not a medical article about Diabetes.  This is simply a telling of our experience with my husband's diabetes and one way we keep him healthy and active. 

My husband, Ken, is a very active man.  He thinks nothing of bicycling 20 miles, kayaking for four hours, or sailing for days!  He and I both would rather be on the water, but anywhere outside is fine.  Camping, is a great weekend for us...depending on where our campground is we'll either bike, walk, or kayak the time away! 

About 7 year ago we were out bicycling on a section of the Rail Trail south of York.  I was back at the car when Ken came dragging in.  I mean really dragging, barely able to walk.  I ran over to him and he panted out that he had hit a real sugar low on the trail! 

Ken is diabetic.  While he had eaten a good breakfast before we went out to the trail, he had overdone it and his sugar level dropped to a point that he had hit a hypoglycaemic low.  For a diabetic this can be serious! 

According to
Hypoglycaemia is a condition where the level of glucose (sugar) in the blood drops below a certain point – about 3.0mmol/l.  This causes a number of symptoms such as dizziness, sweating, shaking and palpitations, that usually go away 10 to 15 minutes after eating sugar.

I took Ken immediately for some food at a nearby hamburger joint.  Once his blood sugar was back up he explained that he had asked several people on the trail if they had any candy, a power bar or anything since he was having a diabetic low.  NO ONE helped him.  He was asking adults, and had explained that he had diabetes and they just ignored him!  I was furious!  How could anyone talk to someone in distress and not help?  We weren't in New York City for pete's sake, we were on a biking trail, and Ken was dressed in biking clothes. 
Ok, sure I can understand that he could have appeared to be inebriated, especially looking at the description of the symptons of a sugar low two paragraphs above.  But still wouldn't YOU help out?  Usually he didn't go out on any kind of excursion without a piece of candy or something to combat this type of event, but this one time he did. 

After that incident, I read up on what was best to carry and I started dehydrating fruit for him to carry at all times, including even in the car.
On I found Mary Bell's Complete Dehyrdrator Cookbook.  What a great way to learn about dehydrating!  She lists each fruit and vegetable common in the USA, with an explanation of the water content of each, how best to prepare it and how to treat them to alleviate the browning for some fruits and vegetables. 
Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook
My research showed that our local Walmart had the best price on a Nesco dehydrator.  I couldn't believe how easy it was to get trays and trays of dedrated fruit for us to carry. 

I started with apples, went on to strawberries (one of my daughter's favorites!), pears, bananas, cantalope, even watermelon!  And speaking of haven't had good pears until you've had dehydrated Asian pears!  Oh, talk about flavorful and sugary!  Yummy!  Those are Ken's favorite!

The great thing is this is something you can do with you kids to get them off those sugar filled treats!  You cut the fruit and have them put it on the trays.  You can even get them to pick out their favorite fruits, or go to the orchards to help you pick them! 

OH!  I forgot to mention the money you save over buying dehydrated fruits!  For a 6 oz bag of dehydrated pear slices you'll pay more than $5.00!  Plus you don't have any chemicals added to the fruits when you do them at home.  I will sometimes use a mild lemon juice and water solution to stop my pears and apples from browning during the drying process, but no chemicals are used! 

One more's best to use fruit that is just slightly overripe...the more ripe, the more natural sugar content and the better the final product is.  So don't throw away those apples that are going soft, or that pear! 

One of our favorites is an idea I got from one of our local orchards.  They sell dried apples bits with cinnamon.  A four ounce bag will set you back $4.50.  I took gala apples, washed and sliced them and then tossed them with just a tiny bit of Splenda and a few teaspoons of cinnamon. 

I put the pieces on the trays and turned the dehydrator on. 

You don't want to over season fruit you are drying because the flavors intensify during the drying process.

Five regular size apples will dehydrate down to 5 ounces of dried fruit. 
I don't peel the apples or pears either! 

As you can see below, just about any fruit hits the seedless grapes make the best raisins around!  Papaya and strawberries are always a great addition to our trail or gorp mix! 

You can also make some great fruit leathers.  Simply put your fruits in the blender, add a bit of apple sauce and whir!  Then pour onto sheets that fit over the dehydator trays. 

Dried apples are great for pies in the winter also.  Reconstitute them in a big of water, use like you would fresh apples...or add them to your favorite coffee cake or bread! 

By the way there are many other types of dehydrators out there, as well as other ways of drying fruite.  A recent episode of Good Eats had Alton Brown making a drying device out of a huge box fan and a few furnace filters!  At one of the Amish farms you can visit in Lancaster, PA, you can see a smoke house type of dryer that requires a wood fire, and Dorothy, a Mennonite woman who has had a stand at the East York Farmer's Market for 50 years, uses the wood stove that heats her house to dry her apples.  I've even just put apple slices on a cooling rack next to my gas furnace and dried the apples that way.  So give it a try!  It's easy, money saving and healthy! 

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