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Joy Deveeve brings you a fresh Canadian blog dedicated to the healthiest and tastiest vegan recipes on the planet. Tested in her own kitchen, Joy delivers recipes that are sure to inspire new ideas and bring your meat loving friends over to the good side of life!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting Creative with Crackers and Croutons

Giving Bread a Second Chance

Happy and Healthy New Year!

I have new and exciting announcement to kick off the New Year!

We are expanding the Lime Green Vegan team this year and I'm very happy to officially welcome Dr. Kathy Van Zeyl, N.D. As our Naturopathic Consultant, Kathy will offer feedback and nutriitional advice on our recipes through her own health column "Focus on Health". She will also offer healthy recipe ideas of her own, bringing food and health issues together for each blog segment we produce. I will continue posting new recipes and my husband Ian North will continue to edit all content.  A warm welcome to Kathy who will help us make the Lime Green Vegan blog more informative and even tastier in 2011!

One of my New Year's Resolutions is to release new recipes more regularly.  Last year was a huge change for me; I moved twice, finished school and started a new business.  It's no wonder I didn't have time to spend working in the kitchen!

This year promises to be different.  I have been very inspired lately and I have been trying all sorts of new recipes from some new cookbooks I bought over the holidays.  I am looking forward to sharing all of my new ideas with you over the next year.  I am even more excited about Kathy's upcoming contributions and where it may take us as a blog that is dedicated to the health-conscious, experimental-vegetarian.

January in Ontario, Canada

With cold weather comes bread-baking at my house. Who doesn't love the smell and taste of fresh home-made bread?  Of course, I have plenty of help from my bread machine and I am experimenting all the time with new recipes.

One of the challenges around my house is that I am really the only one who eats bread on a regular basis and one person alone can only eat so much bread!  We often find that we have loaves of leftovers at the end of the week and I feel guilty about throwing away any type of food, especially perfectly good "soon-to-be-stale" bread. 

That's why I came up with the perfect way to give new life to bread that would otherwise end up in the compost heap.  By following a few simple steps, you can pack your pantry with a wide range of healthy home-made snacks and custom complements to any salad, soup or stew. 

You will soon see that the possibilties are endless and you may find once you get the hang of recycling bread into snacks that you have a little more cash in your pocket after grocery shopping!  You can also feel good about your contribution to the environment.

You will need the following:

-Fresh or soon-to-be-stale bread (Any type of bread - Buns, baguettes and partial loaves will do)
-A baking sheet
-Small cookie cutter (optional)
-Bread knife

Below you will find step-by-step instructions and the following recipes for my little vegan inventions:

1. Basic Whole-Wheat Croutons
2. Basic Whole-Wheat Baguette Crackers
3. Whole-Grain Star Crisps with Sunflower Seeds

Basic Whole-Wheat Croutons

1. Prehead oven to 250F
2. Cut slices of bread into strips and then into 1-inch cubes.  (I use my own home-made whole-wheat bread)
3. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet.
4. Bake at 250F for 15 minutes, then shake the baking sheet and toss cubes, return to oven.
5. Bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown and the centres are not soft.
6. Store in airtight container for up to three weeks.

These croutons go well with tossed vegan caesar salad.

Basic Whole-Wheat Baguette Crackers

1. Prehead oven to 250F
2. Cut a baguette into thin slices, approximately 2mm wide. (I use President's Choice Whole Wheat Baguettes - they use pure whole wheat flour and it doesn't contain white or "enriched wheat flour")
3. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet.
4. Bake at 250F for 15 minutes, flip each cracker and return to oven.
5. Bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
6. Store in airtight container for up to three weeks.

These crackers go very well with home-made hummus.

Whole-Grain Star Crips with Sunflower Seeds

1. Prehead oven to 250F

2. Gather slices of bread (I used Ace Bakery Granary Bread) and grab your favourite cookie cutters.

3. Place the cookie cutter against your bread slice and conserve space so that you can the maximum amount of shapes out of each slice.

4. Lift the bread so that you can push the cookie cutter through the bread with the full weight of your fingers.

5. Voila, you have your first cut out shape.  Carry on until the entire bread slice is used up.
6. Spread stars out evenly on a baking sheet.
4. Bake at 250F for 15 minutes, flip each star crisp and return to oven.
5. Bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown and crisp.
6. Store in airtight container for up to three weeks.

These crisps are a nice complement for any soup.
Tip: You can alter any of the above recipes by first tossing the bread pieces in oils, herbs and spice mixtures, then toasting. Also, remember that you can use these tasty toasty snacks for dipping - consider dips using beans, mustards and chutneys.  Enjoy! 

Focus On Health

Dr. Kathy Van Zeyl N.D.

Davisville Health (Toronto)

Hello vegans and aspiring vegan cooks! I am thrilled to be a part of Joy’s spectacular vegan blog and look forward to giving some healthy tips for those who want to learn more about the medical side of food. A huge part of my job is educating people to make healthy food choices and take control of their health, so I am more than happy to field any questions and get discussions going.
 Finding ways to use leftover food scraps can be a bit of an art, a term we can refer to as “kitchen efficiency.” When it comes to the health of our environment, we each have the individual responsibility to reduce our waste and be efficient with our resources. Too often our bread crusts get tossed and we don’t think twice when buying store-bought croutons. Joy’s crouton recipe allows us to be more efficient with our bread loaves while decreasing the waste involved in cardboard and plastic packaging to buy a box of croutons. We also reduce the carbon emissions that would be created transporting this pre-made product! Other methods of kitchen efficiency include using broccoli stems as coleslaw, saving veggie scraps for soups and stews, buying in bulk to reduce packaging, and always bringing your own bags when grocery shopping. When we think of the environment, we preserve the health of the planet as well as ourselves by reducing air and soil pollution.

On the subject of bread, there are many different types that can be used in these recipes. For those of us who prefer low-calorie, low-sodium, sugar-free or yeast-free alternatives there is a great line of spring-water breads by Dimpflmeier Bakery which can be easily found in most grocery stores. For many of my patients who are sensitive to wheat and gluten, rice-based gluten-free breads are also becoming more abundant in grocery stores (check the freezer in the health food section!). Gluten is the major protein found in many wheat-based grains (including barley, spelt, rye and bulgur) and can cause conditions including celiac disease, eczema, digestive concerns, headaches and fatigue. For this reason I often recommend a gluten-free diet or a rotation diet to assess for potential sensitivities to this protein. If you suspect you may be allergic to gluten, eliminate it completely from your diet for a minimum of 6 weeks before adding it back and note any changes in your symptoms between these two times.

Your comments are invited.  Please post your responses and use the comment space below to provide your feedback.