Friday, August 30, 2013

I Just Made Killer Fruit Snacks Out of Zucchini, Kool-Aid and a Paper Clip.

Thank you to Nike at Thrive for this awesome D-I-Y healthy fruit snack made with....veggies!

Okay … I didn’t actually use a paper clip.  I got a little too MacGyver on the title.  But, I did make honest-to-goodness fruit snacks out of zucchini and kool-aid.  And you can do it without a dehydrator, too.

And that kind of know-how would so impress MacGyver

Blog Pics


It’s super easy, cheap and way better for the kiddos than the high fructose corn syrup / modified corn starch numbers at the store.

There’s a few different versions of this recipe floating around the web, but this is my own recipes that, in my humble opinion, tastes even better, uses much less sugar and can actually work in the oven if you don’t have a dehydrator.  I have made several batches over the last few days and hope my trial and error process helps someone out. 

Homemade Fruit Snacks

Or the: Your Kids Will The Entire Batch In Two Minutes and You Finally Have Something To Do With All That Zucchini Besides Bread and Muffins Recipe

For this recipe you’ll need:


Wash, peel and halve your zucchini, even if you’re using small, tender squash.


You want to get all of the peel removed so that the zucchini meat dehydrates properly and looks in no way healthy.  This is critical for the kids to buy into the idea.  Halve your zucchini if you’re using baseball-sized ones like I did.  It makes them much easier to work with.

Remove the seeds and pulp from the inside with a spoon, making sure the meat has a nice, even thickness.
When you’re done the zucchini should look like this:

peel-free and a fairly even thickness.
Cut the zucchini in long strips about 1/4” – 3/8” thick.  

Don’t worry about being precise, just eyeball it.  Wider strips will work fine, too—just allow for extra drying time.

Cut the strips into 1 inch pieces.  
These will shrink up by half in the dehydrator giving you a bite-sized piece.  
Aug 201050
Heat water, sugar and drink mix over high heat. 

Add the zucchini as soon as the sugar is dissolved and bring to a full boil.  Reduce heat and simmer covered for 30 minutes.

Drain thoroughly reserving cooking liquid and allow to cool in the strainer for ten minutes. 

Dump zucchini out onto dehydrator trays or plastic wrap lined cookie sheets and let dehydrate.

Store in ziplock bags until they’re eaten up.

** Then lather, rinse, repeat. **

The next batch of zucchini can be cooked in the left-over cooking liquid with the same favor and texture.


Drying In A Dehydrator:

Dry snacks for about a day, being sure to rotate trays.  Snacks are done with they’re still soft and pliable, but dry to the touch with a matte finish.

Drying In The Oven:

Line sheets with plastic wrap, but do not spray with cooking spray.(I used wax paper in this picture and it stuck horribly and discolored during the drying.  Plastic wrap has worked beautifully on all of the batches since then).
(The red are from the fruit punch flavored Kool Aid and the purple is from the grape.)  
You can either spread it around loosely with a spatula …
… or go the Martha Stewart route and line them all nice and neat.
The Martha way looks pretty, but it takes forever to do.  And both ways cooks just as well so there’s not an advantage either way.  Well, other than the obvious time-saving "messier" style one!

As you can see, the pieces will shrink by about half and darken in color during their drying time.

Set your oven between 140 – 170 degrees.  (My oven’s lowest setting was WARM – 170 degrees).  If your oven won’t go below 200 degrees, prop the door open with a hand towel and keep the temperature down a bit.

The drying time in the oven, as well as with the dehydrator, will vary depending on the piece sizes and humidity.  I placed the batch below in the middle rack of the oven at 170 degrees right after lunch.  I turned the oven off around 11 pm when I went to bed and kept the door closed all night.  
In the morning they were almost done, so I scraped all the pieces together with a spatula to move them around, spread them back out and finished them in the oven at 170 degrees for about another 40 minutes.  Again, drying times will vary.  
(Again, use plastic wrap to line your pans. I used wax paper here and although the flavor and texture were fine, the paper discolored and didn’t look very appetizing.)

When they were done, the 1 inch long pieces ended up at 1/2” inch bites and the 1/2” inch pieces ended up the size of mini M&M's and were chewier.
The smaller length pieces were also tough to use in the dehydrator because they kept falling through the cracks on the tray.   They also dried out much faster than the bigger pieces.  That made them much harder and chewy like jerky.  My kids liked the soft, bigger pieces much better.
These snacks won’t win any beauty contests, but I’d rather give my kids 0.9 oz. of yummy homemade fruit snacks with all of the extra vitamins from the garden than the 0.9 oz. of the store bought variety with all the fillers and junk.

Oh, and these were super cheap.

The store brand single serve packs work out to be about .20 each.  The homemade variety ran me .06 each when I bought sugar (and used the cooking liquid for two batches) and .02 a serving when I used sugar on hand. 

We have achieved SOUR fruit snacks!

Oh yeah.

These are sooooo good!

Mix 4 c. zucchini, 3 c. water, 1 c. sugar or splenda and 10 orange Kool-aid packs.

(Yes, you really do need 10 packs.)


Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15-20 minutes until soft. 
 Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to trays.

Then dehydrate as usual.

You can go the bite-sized route with this snacks, but my kids prefer leaving them 3-4 inches long.


They make the cutest little sour gummy worms. Yum!

FreebieFetish Note:  To make this even healthier, you can try shredding the zucchini and mixing them with something like unsweetened apple sauce or other pureed fruit instead of the water and sugar and then drying them like a fruit roll up, I think I may try that next. then there would be no added sugar at all.


Crockpot Pumpkin Bread

 I found this awesome recipe on Pinterest and made it today.  It came out amazing, so I figured I better share it!
 Let me just say you will NEVER have a more moist bread in your LIFE.
The process of baking in a crockpot is pretty easy.  Once you have the batter made for your bread, pour around two cups of water into your crockpot.  We are essentially baking the bread in a water bath.  Now place the bread into the crockpot, but make sure the water doesn’t go into the bread pan.  Next is a very important step, if you don’t do this the bread won’t bake very well.  Make sure to place paper towels inside the crockpot, securing them with the crockpot top.  This will trap the condensation the crockpot creates, and allow your bread to bake.  Try not to open your crockpot until the appropriate time, and just use a knife to see if it is done.

 Crockpot Pumpkin Bread

Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This is an amazingly simple pumpkin bread recipe that will leave you wanting MORE. Cooking the bread in the crockpot instead of the oven is a great way to not warm your home on a hot day! A side effect of slow cooking the bread, it’s incredibly moist!
Serves: 4-6
  • ½ cup of oil
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
  • 1 15oz can of pumpkin
  • 1½ cup of flour (sifted)
  • ¼ tsp. of salt
  • ½ tsp. of cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. of baking soda
  1. Blend the oil and both of the sugars into a large bowl.
  2. Then, stir in the beaten eggs and canned pumpkin. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  3. Pour the batter into a greased or oiled bread pan. (I used a canola oil spray that worked just fine.
  4. Now add two cups of water to your crockpot and place the pan into a crock pot.
  5. Cover the top of the crockpot with eight-ten paper towels. This is to trap condensation and keep the bread from becoming mushy.
  6. Place the crock pot lid on top of the crockpot (I tried to make sure the paper towels were trapped around the lid so they didn’t slip) and bake on high 2½ to 3 hours.
 Bon Appetit'

Fun Events for San Diego in September (That Are Free or Pretty Darn Close)

 Try to get out and enjoy our great city and check out some of the outdoor events below!
September 2
84th Annual Labor Day Pier Swim
The Oceanside Pier Swim is an annual event celebrated by athletes from all over California to help raise money for the Oceanside Swim Club.  The event is a one-mile swim around the pier, beginning and ending on the beach.  Minimum age for participation is 12 years.
 Time: Check-in begins at 7:30 am. First heat starts at 8:30 am
Location:  Oceanside Pier, Oceanside
For more information visit

September 7
Julian Grape Stomp Fiesta
Julian celebrates the harvest of the grapes with an olde-world style grape stomp and festa at the Menghini Winery. Italian music, dancing, Bocci Ball competitions, stomping, wine tasting, a jumbo jump for the kids and a variety of food and crafts for sale.  $10 for adults 21 and over, $5 ages 20 to 6, 5 and under free.
Time:  11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Location:  Menghini Winery, 1150 Julian Orchards Dr., Julian
For more information visit

September 7
Fiesta de Kustom Kulture
Car and low-brow art show featuring pre-1972 hot rods, street rods, customs, muscle cars & trucks.  Painters, pinstripers & low-brow artists.  Live pin-striping and lettering demos.  Vendors include car & motorcycle related items, vintage apparel, accessories, helmets and more.
Time:  10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Location:  Old Town San Diego – San Diego Ave. – Harvey & Twiggs Streets
For more information visit

September 7
Annual Poway Days Parade
An old-fashioned parade which is part of Poway Days. Includes a 5K & 1 mile fun run/walk.
Time:  9:00 am – 11:30 am
Parade Route:  Poway Road, from Pomerado to Bowron
For more information visit

September 7
Grape Day Festival and Parade
First held in 1908, this is Escondido’s oldest and longest running event.  The event starts off with a 5k fun run.  The short, whimsical parade features equestrians, floats, marching bands, and walking groups.  In celebration of its heritage, the Escondido Grape Day Festival features grape stomping, free grapes, entertainment stage, vendor booths, fun zone, food trucks and more!
Time:  5K – 7:30 am / Parade – 9:30 am / Festival – 9:30 am – 4:00 pm
Location:  Grape Day Park, 321 N. Broadway, Escondido
For more information visit

September 7-8
Annual Greek Festival
For two days, the church grounds are transformed into a quaint Greek village atmosphere where you can experience fine food, traditional Greek dancing, live entertainment, kid’s zone, live auction, marketplace, and the warmth of Greek hospitality.
Time:  Sat. 10:00 am – 10:00 pm / Sun. 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Location:  Saints Constantine & Helen Greek Orthodox Church, 3459 Manchester Ave., Cardin-by-the-Sea
For more information visit

September 8
Annual Brazilian Day Street Fair and Parade
The largest Brazilian festival on the west coast showcasing the culture of Brazil and South America.  Family oriented, non-alcoholic.  Two stages with  musical bands and performing groups.  Kids zone, Brazilian food vendors, multicultural arts and crafts. The highlight of the festival is the carnival style parade, with vibrant floats, extravagant costumes and infectious rhythms. Free event.
Time:  Festival 11:00 am – 7:00 pm / Parade 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Location:  Pacific Beach – Garnet Ave. between Bayard St. & Everts St.
For more information visit

September 8
Annual La Jolla Rough Water Swim
Nationally ranked #1 America’s premier open water swimming competition event, the La Jolla Rough Water Swim has been a summertime tradition since 1916.  The course consists of a Junior Swim (250 yards), Amateur Swim (1 mile), and a Gatorman Swim (3 miles).  See website for entry fees.
Time:  9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location:  La Jolla Cove, Scripps Park, 1150 Coast Blvd.
For more information visit

September 13-15
Annual San Diego Bay Fair Powerboat Racing
Join the crowd at Mission Bay to watch the fastest boats in the world compete to win at this extreme watersport event.  Vendor & food booths, several RV campsites and tent campsites on Fiesta Island.  See website for tickets and campsite information.
Time:  Refer to website
Location:  Mission Bay – refer to website
For more information visit

September 15
Fiestas Patrias – Mexican Independence Day in Old Town
Fiestas Patrias celebrates Mexican Independence with colorful displays of dancing, storytelling, and music from early San Diego. Enjoy lively free activities, including children’s games. Other activities include branding, corn husk doll making, relay races, and vaquero games and more.
Time:  12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Location:  Old Town San Diego, adjacent to the Old Town Transit Center
For more information visit

September 21
Annual Mira Mesa Street Fair
The event includes entertainment on two stages, a carnival, children’s crafts
and games, free rock painting for kids, craft, vendor, and info booths,
and a Scout Village, showcasing camping skills and equipment.
Time:  10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  Mira Mesa – on Camino Ruiz from Mira Mesa Blvd. to New Salem St.
For more information visit

September 21
The first ever San Diego seafood tasting and a free day filled with family fun.  Enjoy live music at the main stage, a wine & beer garden, a youth zone and stage with BMX riders, pro skateboarders, DJs, and live bands, plus educational exhibits from The Living Coast Discovery Center.  The shores will be lined with exotic automobiles and arts and crafts exhibits.
Time:  11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Location:  Bayside Park, Chula Vista
For more information visit

September 21- 22
Annual Pacific Islander Festival
Features continuous entertainment throughout the day and presents the food, crafts, and customs of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia.  An alcohol and tobacco-free event.  Free admission.
Time:  Sat. 9:00 am – 4:30 pm / Sun. 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Location:  Ski Beach, East Mission Bay
For more information visit

September 21- 22
Annual Coronado Speed Festival / Fleet Week
The “Race at the Base” is generally comprised of over 200 of the world’s most unique vintage race cars, chosen to compete on the basis of their historical significance and certified authenticity.  Fans are invited to tour the pits and speak with the drivers.
Time:  8:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: San Diego Bay – Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado
For more information visit

September 22
Annual Encinitas Oktoberfest
The Fest will feature Bavarian dancers and bands, a street craft faire with over 200 vendors, authentic German food and beer, and a ceremonial parade.  There will also be a family fun zone, and much more!
Time:  10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location:  6-block marketplace at Mountain Vista Dr. & El Camino Real, Encinitas
For more information visit

September 22
Annual Paddle for Clean Water
A festival that promotes an environmental need for clean oceans.  Over 1000 surfers will paddle around the OB Pier.  The event will be celebrated with a free, light breakfast for all paddlers, guest speakers, a raffle, and beach clean up.  
Time:  9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location:  Ocean Beach Pier, Newport Ave. & Abbott St.
For more information visit

September 27- 28
Poway Days Annual Poway Rodeo
Professional rodeo cowboys from all over the country compete.  Bronc riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing, mutton busting and more.  Craft and food vendors.  A free rodeo dance will be help on Friday and Saturday nights following the rodeo performance.  See  website for schedule and admission cost.
Time:  Refer to website schedule
Location:  Poway Valley Riders Association Arena, 14336 Tierra Bonita Rd. – Twin Peaks and Tierra Bonita
For more information visit

September 27-29
Annual MS Challenge Walk
The event is a 3-Day, 50 mile walk from Carlsbad to Downtown San Diego.  Participants can experience a personal journey of spirit and physical stamina while benefiting the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Time:  Fri. 6:30 am – 4:00 pm / Sat. 6:30 am – 4:30 pm / Sun. 6:30 am – 12:00 pm
Location:  Carlsbad Flower Fields – Day 1
For more information visit

Have a FUN September!