How and Why to Dehydrate – Part Three (Increasing Nutrition by Dehydrating)

The information provided in this post is for information purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice.
It is not a substitute for your doctor's care plan or advice.

Excalibur Dehydrator

We've already talked about how, with a dehydrator, you can

With a dehydrator, you can also increase the nutritional value of the foods that you are already eating. Find out how….

Increasing nutrition in your food is especially important today because:

  • the nutritional content of our foods isn't anywhere near what it used to be.
  • Many of us are struggling with health issues like autism spectrum, Crohn's, IBS, candida and food sensitivities.  All of these are linked to deficiencies in our digestive systems so it's crucial we make the most of the nutrition in our foods and improve the digestibility of what we eat as much as possible
Soaked and Dried Almonds in Dehydrator

Soaked and Dried Almonds

How to Increase Nutrition By Dehydrating

1.  Soaking and Dehydrating Nuts and Seeds

I first heard about soaking nuts and seeds to enhance digestibility in Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions.  However, I'd still do this even if there were no nutritional difference, because they taste so much better soaked and dried — they turn crispy and wonderfully flavorful. If you spend enough time on “real food” blogs, you'll see soaked and dehydrated nuts called “Crispy Nuts.”

2.  Soaking and dehydrating your grains and beans

Why dehydrate grains and beans, you may ask?  To make your own flour, of course!
Now, I admit, I haven't done this much, but it sure is the way to do it if you are going to make certain kinds of flours.

Soaked and Dried Mung Beans in Dehydrator

Soaked and Dried Mung Beans

People on gluten-free diets often turn to special flours like bean flours, quinoa flour, etc.  Well, we all know what happens when one eats too many beans, right?  To prevent your bean flours from adding more insult to your already stressed-out intestines, you need to degas the beans and then dehydrate and grind them. It's a few extra steps, but it just might prevent a lot of illness (and tooting 🙂 down the road.

Above are dried mung beans which I plan to make into mung bean pancakes.  I'd also love to soak and dry garbanzo beans for use “as is” or in a gluten free baking mix (like Bob's Red Mill's).

Quinoa flour can't be made without soaking and drying unless your quinoa is exceptionally clean.  Quinoa is coated with bitter tasting saponins that must be rinsed off prior to eating (and thus, prior to grinding quinoa into flour).  Again, this is an extra step, but bulk quinoa costs about half of quinoa grain, so you can save room in your pantry by purchasing just the grains and grinding the grain into flour.

3.  Preserves more of the nutritional value than canning

That doesn't mean that I don't hope that someone will invite me over to learn how to can salsa and tomatoes sometime this summer, but it does mean I prefer dehydrating over canning when it comes to preserving food.

That being said, I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of what can be dried and how to use dried foods in cooking.  But from what I have read, there's a lot to learn and a lot of fun experimenting to be done.

There are so many great resources for dehydrating techniques and recipes.  I would highly recommend that you get sheets for making fruit leathers and things like flax crackers and sun-dried tomatoes that otherwise would drop through the trays and make a big mess inside your machine.

I personally use and love the Excalibur Dehydrator.

Now, these dehydrators aren't cheap; but they're really worth it.  They work great, dry evenly, and have a great 10-year warranty.

What do you do with your dehydrator? Or what would you LIKE to do with one?

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These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.

Comments

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  1. I’ve been trying to make garbanzo bean flour. After getting stomach distress, I read about soaking and dehydrating. I have the exact Excalibur model, but what temperature do I set it to dehydrate soaked garbanzo beans? Also, is this temperature to be used for dehydrating all varieties of soaked beans, such as black beans. I am dehydrating a batch right now at 115 degrees.

    How do you store your dehydrated beans?

    Thanks

  2. Adrienne,

    I am using a netbook on Google chrome…. Might be the reason 🙂

    Thanks,

    Marcel,

    • Not sure. I will consider removing it. I’m a little swamped now. I wonder why that would cause things to be crowded. Does it happen on your home computer?

      • Adrienne,

        Works fine on my larger screen computer. There is a margin wide enough so the Share bar does not overlap any text/ image. I will tweak my Google Chrome…

        Talk to you when I get some food story .. for A change.

        Marcel,

  3. Mary Jorgensen says:

    I was just offended by the absoluteness of her comment, as though she knows everything about autism because she works with autistic kids. Nobody knows everything. As someone with autism, I thought I’d put forward my experience from the inside, so to speak.

  4. Mary Jorgensen says:

    Catherine, in response to your comments about autism not being affected by diet, it depends on the kind of autism. I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a high-functioning autism, and I have noticed a LARGE DIFFERENCE in my symptoms and my ability to function as an adult, BASED ON MY DIET, AND WHAT I DON’T PUT IN MY BODY!!!!!
    Never think that diet can’t help, just because it doesn’t help everyone. Nothing works the same for everyone, not even water or breathing!

  5. Hi Adrienne, soaking and dehydrating your nuts and seeds is new to me. You sometimes refer to their shell; are you talking about their hard shell or their soft casing/coating. In other words, I assume you soak and dehydrate out of their hard shell, correct? Also, how does this method differ than roasting nuts and seeds in regards to health and digestive benefits?

  6. Did you post the recipe for the flax crackers yet? I’m interested!

    • No – but thanks for the reminder. I am working on something for today…..I’ll have to break out my flax and get going! Have you subscribed so you will get updates when they come? There is also a free soaked whole grains cookbook for subscribers!

  7. Great post! I’ve been soaking and dehydrating nuts for a long time as described in Nourishing Traditions, and I just started sprouting my beans recently after realzing what a big difference it makes in the digestability over soaking as descirbed in NT.

    Now I need to try dehydrating them after sprouting so I can make flour out of them in my mill. I do make some blender batters with cooked beans as the flour, like black bean brownies, so I’d like to have some flours I can use in mixes to up the nutrition and protein without causing any gastric distress.

  8. My workshops cover three areas: coupons, frugal living, and meal planning. My struggle right now is most people just see me and think coupons…..but as I change over to this lifestyle, I find myself using them less and less. However, I do know how to utilize them to get great savings, so I keep teaching others to do the same. During the frugal portion I talk about using cloth items instead of disposable stuff (diapers, napkins, etc), how to save on vacations, how to make homemade cleaners, etc. Then I talk about meal planning and stockpiling.
    The basis of my website is frugal living, so I’m attempting to make my workshops go more over into that area.
    I hope that the co-op works out….if not, I might be bending your ear to learn how to set up one myself.
    I would love to correspond and share ideas with you….however I think it would mostly be you teaching me how to do stuff. Ha, ha! 🙂 I’ve been looking for someone to help me, but most people are too busy or don’t want to help. I find you to be a breath of fresh air.

  9. I live in Bristol, TN but I’m from Chilhowie Virginia 🙂 I might add the Excalibur to my list after the mill and water filter……since I wouldn’t REALLY use it until the end of the summer I have a while to save.
    I’m very motivated by your story. I love how you eat healthy AND on a budget. I teach frugal living workshops and so many people think you can’t eat healthy and save money at the same time…..at least around here. TN isn’t really known for their healthy attitude. 🙂
    I’m attending a local meeting this month about setting up a co-op……I haven’t read all your past posts (I’m working on that) so I don’t know if that’s how you do most of your shopping?

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Stacy! My best friend here went to college in TN and just said the same about the lack of healthy eaters in the south. We have another friend who just moved there and is struggling a bit as she has celiac sprue and is trying to clean up her diet in a healthy way.

      Yes, I do a lot with a co-op that I have run out of my home since just after we moved here (about 8 years ago). It is through Country Life Natural Foods and we also buy regularly from Herbtrader.com and Mountain Rose Herbs. I also finally obtained a business license so that I could start a business, get even greater savings and pass them onto others while making a bit to help our family out. (You can see my meager attempt at that on my store page :-). I have to work on making that better someday.)

      I am impressed that you teach workshops. Maybe we should correspond and share ideas? I used to teach a lot. I hadn’t thought about teaching about frugality. Maybe I should think about it!

  10. Hi Adrienne, it’s me again. 🙂 Thanks for all your advice over at Kitchen Stewardship about the snacks and water filter.
    We’ve decided to get a Wonder Mill and a water filtration system. That being said, we have to watch our budget. We’re also paying off our house, so we don’t have a lot of money to throw around. I already have this dehydrator:
    http://kitchen.manualsonline.com/mdownloads/942de8cb-c4b8-42d4-a5dd-c29f369b7d7a.pdf
    But compared to the Excalibur it’s piddly. 🙂 Do you think this one will do me? Or should I not even try? I’ve never used it…..it was my husband’s before we got married. Sometimes cheap appliances aren’t worth the trouble, but this is what I have. Make do, or do without.

    • Good decision on the mill and filter system. From what I have heard and read about those dehydrators, they do not have a fan and so the food doesn’t dry evenly. I wouldn’t say don’t do it if you want to dehydrate food, but then, if it hasn’t been used, you could sell it perhaps and try to cut costs somewhere else and save up for the Excalibur. Good idea to pay off the house. Just checked out your site. Are you in VA or TN? I went to college at UVa and my father lives out there now. I miss it :-)! Since you have such a frugal focus I am sure you could save up the money in no time if motivated!!

      • Lorelei Velez says:

        I live in Scottsville, VA. I am working at Burley Middle School today right around the corner from UVA. Small world! Lots of great options for whole foods out here, and we have Dr. Bush who practices green medicine. I am going to talk to him about all that I have been learning because I had previously discussed my brain fog issues with him before.

  11. While I enjoy your posts and am appreciate the help you are providing to the overall health of me and my family, I would like to point out that your inclusion of autism spectrum in your list of health issues is disturbing. As I work with children with varying degrees of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), I want you to be aware that ASD is not a health issue in the same sense that the other listed issues are. A change in diet may have great impact on the symptoms of ASD for some but not all. I work with a number of children with ASD whose change(s) in diet did not reduce many or even any of the symptoms of ASD. Thank you for the rest of the post as I am interested in dehydrating and have taken a lot from your discussions on the topic.

    • I appreciate your compliments, but I must admit that I am confused about what is “disturbing” about classifying autism as a health issue. It seems from your explanation that you feel that since it is not always cured or dramatically improved by a change in diet that it is not a “health issue.” I would appreciate any clarification that you can make and welcome the dialogue. I would also recommend further reading on the topic, for example, Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Natasha Campbell-McBride, and Children with Starving Brains: A Medical Treatment Guide for Autism Spectrum Disorder by Jaquelyn McCandless. Both of them are physicians with autistic children.

      As a parent of an autistic child, I can say that, like most other parents of autistic children, I have done countless hours of research on autism itself and the possible causes. I am convinced that it is a disorder that has its roots in the digestive system and that the effects of it are felt throughout the body as well as in the brain.

      One other resource that I think you may find enlightening is the website of Martha Herbert, a pediatric neurologist and a brain development researcher from Harvard. You can find her website at: http://www.marthaherbert.com.