Stale Bread to Crunchy Croutons, a Cinderella story

If you are gluten-free, you know that, often, gluten-free bread is a silly oxymoron. Too dry, yeasty taste, old sponge texture, strange smell, the life of the gluten-free bread maker seems to be filled with difficulties. Even the yummiest gluten-free bread often has a very short life-span. We rarely buy gluten-free bread, but when we do it often ends up staying in the fridge for days, and then it’s not so appealing anymore. Enter Cinderella moment.

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Home-made croutons!

These are really fun because you can add all kinds of topping, herbs or nuts to make them extra flavorful and delicious. They also only take a few minutes to whip up, and that’s always a plus.

Here is what you need:

  • a few slices of bread
  • 1 tsp oil: you can go classic and use olive oil, but why not use hazelnut, pumpkin seed or pistachio for extra flavour?
  • seeds and nuts: almonds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, or sesame seeds? Use ground or whole to add a nice crunch.
  • herbs: rosemary, thyme, basil, cilantro or oregano. Go fresh or dried!
  • Salt, pepper and other spices of your choice.

Here is what you do:

  1. In a large pan, heat the oil on medium-high heat. While it is warming up, cut up the bread in small bites.
  2. Once the pan is nice and hot, fry the bread, tossing it from time to time to avoid burning. Once the bread has a nice golden colour, add all your additions, and let sit for a few more minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and let the croutons cool-off before keeping them in an air-tight container. This is really key if you want your croutons to stay crispy.

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This is so great because you get to use up some bread, but you can also really make it your own to match whatever it is you are eating. And they are deliciously crunchy and full of flavour! Let me know if you try it out!

Simple Fruit Leather

I really hate to throw away food. When I see that the produce I bought is getting old and will go bad soon, I try to transform it to extend its life to avoid waste. I have to say, however, that meal planing reduces and often eliminates waste as you are only buying what you need. Still, sometimes, fruits or vegetables get forgotten in a corner. This is what happened to two wonderful prunes this week.

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I few hours later, my two wrinkled prunes were transformed into a magnificent fruit leather that is eaten and not wasted. Cheers to that!

Here is what you need:

  • 2 prunes (or any other fruit that is getting old or very ripe: pears, bananas, apples, oranges, etc..)
  • 2 tbs ground almonds (optional but makes it more filling; use one table spoon per cup of fruit)
  • 2 tbs lemon juice (optional but helps reduce browning)

Here is what you do:

  1. Peel and pit your fruit. This makes your fruit leather smoother.
  2. In a food processor or blender, puree your fruit and ground almonds until smooth. If you are using fruits that have the tendency to brown (bananas, apples, pears for example) you can add a few tablespoons of lemon juice.
  3. On a lined cookie sheet or on your dehydrator mat covered with silicone paper, spread the pureed fruit evenly. Tap a few times to remove bubbles.
  4. If you are using a dehydrator, set to 145F or 60C and let sit for 4 to 8 hours depending on the thickness. If you are using your regular oven, set on the lowest temperature and keep the oven door open for 4 to 6 hours, checking often to avoid burning.
  5. Once dried up, cut the leather into strips, roll and store in an air-tight container.

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This is really super simple and so delicious! It makes for a great healthy, sugar-free snack that can easily be taken with you anywhere. You can also make it your own by adding nuts or seeds to the mix, or by combining different fruits. the texture of this is similar to fruit roll-ups without being overly sweet or filled with artificial coloring. And really, the hardest part of this recipe is to wait for it to be ready!

Let me know what you favourite fruit is for this or what you do with your not-so-fresh-anymore produce to avoid waste. And if you are looking for a dehydrator, I bought an Excalibur a few years ago, and it’s perfect! If you are in Canada, you can check out Upaya Naturals: that’s where I got mine, and the shipping was super quick.

 

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