Woodside, California

“Hydrate or Die” – so it says on the side of my Camelbak water bottle. But recently I’ve been exploring the virtues of dehydrating – but this is fine and healthy, because I’m dehydrating my food, not myself.

I’ve spent the last two afternoons in the company of a new friend, Eva, who was introduced to me via a regular visitor to my website, Maui Bob, aka LJ Silver. I have to confess that my dehydrator had arrived over a month ago, before I left for New Zealand, but had sat in its cardboard box in a corner ever since. I would glance at it occasionally and wonder what the hell I was supposed to do with it.

Fortunately, Eva came to the rescue, and the mysterious box is now unpacked, and the dehydrator is whirring away busily in my kitchen. Over the last couple of days we have made granola, falafel, tamari sunflower snacks, nori crackers and flax crackers.

But why bother? you may be wondering. What does a dehydrator do that ordinary cooking doesn’t?

Two reasons:
1. With the dehydrator I can create my own healthy meals for my rowing trip, rather than relying on expensive, low-grade, highly processed pre-packaged expedition foods.
2. Even while I am on dry land, the dehydrator opens up a whole realm of healthy new food options.

This is my understanding: before ingredients such as nuts, sunflower seeds, buckwheat and flax are incorporated into recipes, they are soaked overnight. This brings them to life, activating the enzymes that would eventually lead them to grow into sprouts and then plants. So instead of the nut being “dead” food, it is now alive.

Then, once you’ve mixed the live nuts or grains with all kinds of interesting ingredients and flavourings, the dehydrator “cooks” them into cookies/burgers/crackers at such a low temperature (110 degrees F) that the enzymes stay alive – compared with ordinary cooking which would kill them.

So the end product has all these health-giving enzymes that allow the body to digest the food more fully, gaining optimum nutrition from it.

More importantly as far as I am concerned, the end results are absolutely delicious. I am a sworn carnivore, but with veggie food like this, I could almost give up meat and not miss it. Uh oh – maybe I’m on my way to being a fully-fledged granola-head!

Here is my favourite recipe so far, although do get in touch if you have any other suggestions you would like to share.

And a P.S. One of the great things about the dehydrator is that I can incorporate the by-product from my juicer – the pulp from fruit and vegetables – into crackers, veggie “leathers”, etc. So nothing goes to waste!

“Sunshine” burgers

1C walnuts, soaked overnight
1C pumpkin seeds, soaked overnight
7 sundried tomato halves, soaked for 4 hours (and save the liquid)
2/3 C mushroom stems and/or tops
2T Nama Shoyu sauce (a healthy form of soy sauce)
� t salt
1/3 C grated carrots
1t chilli powder
1t parsley
� t garlic
3T olive oil

Combine in a food blender. Shape into patties. Dry in the dehydrator for as long as it takes – probably 12-16 hours.

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