Paleo Parmesan Herb Croutons

The last recipe for Paleo Almond Flour Bread has inspired a number of bread-based recipes. If you end up with a couple of left-over slices (I’m not sure why you would – but hey, it could happen), these croutons are a great way to use up the extras and they keep for quite a while.

Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a unique flavor blend.
Mix and match your favorite herbs and spices to create a unique flavor blend.

The best part about these crunchy little nuggets is that they are easily customized to your own preferences. I use an array of herbs and spices, as well as a generous helping of parmesan. If you don’t like something, leave it out. It is best to use dried herbs, as fresh won’t hold up well in the heat of the oven. You’ll want to choose flavors that are bold and will stand up to the robust flavor of the parmesan.

The oil and cheese can also be customized to your preferences.
The oil and cheese can also be customized to your preferences.

We are lucky enough to have a friend who presses olives into olive oil every year in Italy. We get a single bottle from him and make it last as long as we can. This oil is fantastic unheated and simply drizzled over a salad. It’s also fantastic with these croutons. Because they aren’t in the oven for an exceptionally long amount of time (only about 20 minutes), the olive flavor still peeks through.

You’ll want to be sure to toast the croutons for enough time to get a nice crunchy exterior. Don’t be afraid of a little color – that’s where you get the deep flavor! If you end up with extra herb/spice mix, not to worry, just tuck it away in a zip-top bag and use it next time.

Ingredients:
1 t. salt
1 t. onion powder
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. mustard powder
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dired oregano
1 t. paprika
1 t. ground pepper
1 oz. parmesan, grated or shaved (depending on your preference)
2 T. oil (olive, avocado, etc.)
1 loaf Paleo Almond Flour Bread, cut into cubes

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Line a baking pan with a silpat mat or parchment.
2. Combine all the herbs and spices in a small bowl, stir to combine.
3. Toss the oil and bread cubes together in a large bowl, coating the bread completely.
4. Sprinkle the herb/spice mixture over the bread and toss to coat. Reserve any extra mixture for another use.
5. Spread cubes on prepared baking pan in an even, single layer.
6. Sprinkle parmesan to on top to lightly coat.
7. Bake for 20 minutes, tossing once half-way through, until toasted and crispy.
8. Allow to cool completely on the pan.
9. Store in an airtight container.

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Paleo Almond Flour Bread

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Bread is probably one of the most commonly attempted Paleo “cheat” foods. It’s completely eliminated in a strict Paleo lifestyle, but we just can’t seem to live without its chewy goodness. I’m a HUGE bread fan, especially artisan sourdough bread. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet figured out how to capture the crunchy exterior and tender crumb of a San Francisco sourdough. Don’t worry, I’m making it my life’s mission.

In the meantime, I’ve realized that making a standard almond flour bread that is Paleo-friendly isn’t difficult. With a few simple ingredients and a couple of bowls, you’ve got yourself a moist batter that can be baked off in a flash. The uses for this bread are endless, including pain perdu (French toast), grilled cheese, and your everyday sandwich. It even makes great croutons, covered in herbs and parmesan – they are mouth-watering.

Ingredients
8.5 oz. almond flour
3/4 oz. coconut flour
1.5 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
2 oz. coconut oil
2 oz. butter
1 T. honey
5 ea. eggs
2.5 oz. applesauce

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a loaf pan with the fat of your choice (butter, pan spray, coconut oil, etc.).
2. Combine the flours, soda and salt in a large bowl. Sift to combine.
3. Combine the coconut oil, butter and honey in a small dish. Heat until melted. Cool slightly.
4. Combine eggs and applesauce in another bowl. Whisk to combine.
5. Stream oil & honey mixture into eggs. Whisk to combine.
6. Mix wet ingredients into dry and stir until completely combined.
7. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
8. Allow the loaf to cool for a few minutes in the pan, then turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

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Notes:
1. You can also use all coconut oil instead of using butter if you want a completely dairy-free version.
2. Fold in some dried herbs and minced garlic for a fantastic addition to any weeknight dinner.
3. The applesauce just adds moisture, you can also add creme fraiche.

Roasted Strawberry Paleo Pancakes

The weather here in the Pacific Northwest is finally starting to become bearable. After many months of rain and dreary days, we have had some pretty consistent sunshine and 70ºF temperatures. With that comes trips to the market and an abundance of gorgeous produce. When we lived in Southern California, we took readily available produce for granted. I can remember my parents’ friends giving us boxes full of avocados and citrus – we struggled to find a way to eat it all before it went bad. In Seattle, you walk into the grocery store and avocados are $2.50 each! Needless to say, we take advantage of the warmer months and indulge in as many fruits and vegetables as we can find.

Yesterday we scored a half flat of some of the most gorgeous strawberries I have ever seen. A photo doesn’t do them justice, but I tried:

When you see strawberries this red and juicy, buy as many as you can eat.
When you see strawberries this red and juicy, buy as many as you can eat.

Most people don’t know that the trick to finding the best berries is to look for the smallest of the bunch. The smaller the berry, the more intense the flavor (assuming it was picked ripe). Additionally, you can macerate or roast the fruit to bring out even more robust flavors. I couldn’t think of a better way to devour these gems than to toss them with a sprinkle of coconut palm sugar, roast them off, and use them as a topping for almond flour pancakes.

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Roasted Strawberry Compote
1 pound ripe strawberries
Sprinkle coconut palm sugar
Dash salt

Method:
1. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. You’ll need a silpat-lined sheet pan (or line it with parchment).
2. Trim the tops off the strawberries. You can slightly rinse them beforehand, but it’s best to gently wipe them with a damp paper towel to avoid excessive moisture.
3. Cut the berries in half, or quarters if they are larger than a single bite when cut in half.
4. Toss the strawberries with a bit of coconut palm sugar and a dash of salt. The amount of sugar you use will depend on the ripeness and sugar content of the berry. Don’t overdo it – you’ll regret it. Let the natural flavors of the fruit shine.
5. Spread the berries on the silpat and roast for 10 minutes, or until the juices start running and you can smell the berries.
6. Cool to room temperature.

My recipe for almond flour pancakes can be found here. The end result is especially delicious if you throw a few dark chocolate chunks into the batter after you scoop it into the pan. It’s the best way to get away with eating chocolate for breakfast.