DIY Wednesday: Sun-Dried Tomatoes

The other day, I wanted to recreate one of my favorite breakfast dishes from a restaurant back in Sycamore, Eggsclusive Cafe.  It’s an omelette that has fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, and avocado slices on top.  So simple but so good.

To the store I went to grab the things I needed that I didn’t already have, one of which was the sun-dried tomatoes.  I didn’t want to get the ones packed in olive oil because they tend to make everything else oily and the ones at my store always have some other flavoring like jalapeno added.  So I picked up one of the packages, despite the $5 price tag, and flipped it over to read the ingredient list.  That’s where I was met with sulfates and sulfites and other preservatives to keep “freshness and color retention”.DIY Wednesday: Sun-Dried Tomatoes | Life Healthfully LivedDIY Wednesday: Sun-Dried Tomatoes | Life Healthfully Lived

No brand at my store had sun dried tomatoes without some kind of chemical or preservative and I didn’t want to spend $5 or more on something that I didn’t want in my body.  I almost resigned myself to the oil packed tomatoes when I thought to myself, “Self, can’t you just make your own sun dried tomatoes?  I mean obviously not in the sun, that would take too long and you don’t have a sunny spot in the apartment, but in the oven? And wouldn’t it be like way less expensive?”

Yes, my self was correct.  I can make sun dried tomatoes in my oven and have fresh, preservative free toppings for my omelettes and whatever else my heart desires.  If you have a food dehydrator you probably already know that you can make your own sun-dried tomatoes and it’s fairly simple.  If you don’t, you can do like me and make them in your oven!

Sun Dried TomatoesDIY Wednesday: Sun-Dried Tomatoes | Life Healthfully Lived

  • One 8 oz. package of grape or cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil, optional
  • salt, optional

* I made mine without oil or salt but you can, it just may take a little longer to dry out.

  1. Preheat your oven to the lowest setting.  If it’s 150-170 lucky you, the rest of us will have to make due with 200.
  2. Wash and dry the tomatoes and then slice in half.  Arrange the tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat.  If you want to add olive oil and salt, toss the tomatoes in a bowl and make sure they’re covered then arrange on your baking sheet.
  3. Place the sheet in the oven to dry out.  Now, if your oven only goes to 200 you’re going to have to keep an eye on things to make sure the tomatoes don’t burn.  I opened my oven every 10 minutes or so to let out some of the heat.
  4. Turn over the tomatoes every so often.  Remember you’re just trying to dry them out, not roast them.  They’re done when they look shriveled like red raisins.  Take them out of the oven and let them cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

* Make sure the tomatoes are completely cool and dry before you store them because any moisture in the container will make them mushy and spoil sooner.DIY Wednesday: Sun-Dried Tomatoes | Life Healthfully Lived

Oil-Free Cilantro Lime Pesto

One of the things I hope this blog proves is just because you have a certain dietary restriction/need/preference doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice flavor or some of your favorite things.  There is usually always a way to meet your cravings based on your food needs.  Now, that being said, that doesn’t mean I’m magic and can fix all your dietary woes with a healthy substitution.  Some things just cannot be recreated and more often than not it’s better that we can’t turn all junk food into healthy food.  Who wants to eat a healthy Twinkie anyway?  Or a real one for that matter….

I digress.  Today’s recipe was created because of two things.  1.  While I love fat, it’s super easy to go overboard with it especially when it comes to liquid oil like olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil.  Unless you’re measuring everything out, oil can add up pretty quick.  I started to realize I was buying big jugs of olive oil more and more frequently and running out of them fast.  Which leads me to my second reason… 2. I was out of olive oil and I wanted pesto.Oil-Free Cilantro Lime Pesto | Life Healthfully Lived

I want to stress I don’t think good fats are bad.  In fact, they’re awesome and I try to get them in at every meal.  But too much of a good thing can be bad and when you use an entire 1.5-liter bottle of olive oil in less than a week and a half, you might need to evaluate your food situation.  I’ll still use olive oil to make my spinach pesto, broccoli rabe pesto, and all other delicious things that require olive oil but it’s nice to have an option that is oil-free and just as delicious.

I used this last night on Adam’s fish and he deemed it “pretty tasty”, which is husband speak for good.  It has a nice light flavor from the cilantro and even though there is no oil, it’s still creamy.  You can use any green herb or vegetable you would like, I just happened to have a bunch of cilantro I needed to use so that’s what I went with.  This would also be great on pasta or zoodles or panini’s or chicken/pork or crackers or your finger….

Oil-Free Cilantro Lime PestoOil-Free Cilantro Lime Pesto | Life Healthfully Lived

  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, rinsed and dried and ends trimmed
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
  • juice of 1 to 2 limes, depending on how lime-y you want it
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp roasted garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast (or freshly grated parmesan if you do cheese)
  1. To toast almonds: Add almonds to a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Shake the pan back and forth every so often and dry toast the almonds until golden brown.  Let them cool while you get everything else together.
  2. Place the rest of the ingredients into a blender or food processor, starting with the garlic, then cilantro, then seasonings, and finally lime juice.  Pulse a few times then add the cooled slivered almonds.
  3. Blend until you have a relatively smooth and creamy sauce.  If it’s a little too thick you can add more lime juice or water 1 tablespoon at a time to thin it out.  Taste and adjust the salt then store in your fridge in an airtight container for about a week. Oil-Free Cilantro Lime Pesto | Life Healthfully Lived