Thursday, November 20, 2014

Kale Crunchy "Croutons" (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

I love a good salad loaded up with lots of dressing, croutons and other tasty, crunchy goodies. That doesn't necessarily fit into a healthy, vegan, gluten-free lifestyle though. I refuse to pay over $6 a bag for gluten free croutons, so I've been on a quest to find a decent replacement. My daughter, Leah, recently began making roasted chickpeas which I admit were an adequate alternative.

But today, after juicing my breakfast, I found myself wistfully thinking that it would be great if I could find a use for all of the pulp remnants I've had lately. Sure, I can feed them to my worms, but they have had a plentiful supply since I've been mostly drinking juices for almost a week. I know you can also use pulp in place of eggs in fruit breads, but kale bread just doesn't sound very appetizing and I don't currently plan to start making gluten-free dessert breads.

Which brings me to my epiphany for the day: Instead of making kale chips (like everyone else does), why not make kale "croutons"!

Granted, they aren't square and you won't crack a tooth on them or break a tine trying to impale one on a fork, but they turned out pretty well and I thought I'd share with you how I did it.

Basically, after I juiced my kale, apples and carrots, this is what was left:

You can see in the bowl that I'd already begun to separate out the kale. Next time, I'll empty the kale pulp out of the juicer before I add any other fruits or veggies. I was using curly kale. I'm not certain that you'll get the same effect with a lucinato-type kale.

At this point, most-to all of the liquid has been removed, so I drizzled a little olive oil and sprinkled some garlic powder on them, laid them on my toaster oven pan, and began to roast them. I attempted to dehydrate them on the lowest toaster oven setting I have, which is about 150 degrees. I wanted to keep them RAW, but after 15 minutes, not much had happened to make the texture crunchy. I then roasted them at 200 degrees for 10 minutes and they were perfect. Since I had two different temperatures and times in total, here's my best recommendation and I will update this post when I make them again with more accurate information:

  • To keep them RAW, use a dehydrator or an oven/toaster oven on the lowest setting (about 150-170 degrees) and check every 15 minutes until you have the desired texture. Toss them every time you check them.
  • To get them crispier, roast at 200 degrees, evaluate every 5 minutes and toss them each time you check.
Now...I'm looking forward to my lunch salad today!

Note: I think you could use any seasoning/flavor combination that you'd like. I personally will be trying some nutritional yeast on the next batch to give them a cheesy taste.