Homemade Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs (Sprouted!)

It can be a major challenge to keep up holiday food traditions if you have dietary restrictions. Most of those nostalgic family recipes include bread, dairy, eggs, flour, sugar, and all sorts of other ingredients that likely fall on some ‘no-no’ lists among us.

The Breadcrumb

A major ingredient this time of year for savory dishes is breadcrumbs. For some reason, the holidays call for casseroles — maybe because we’re feeding the masses — and breadcrumbs just come with the territory. They act as a food extender and ingredient binder, and they create that warm, full, holiday feeling we all crave when the weather cools off.

In my Sicilian-American family, the two major breadcrumb-stuffed-dishes I’ve come to expect every holiday season are green bean casserole and stuffed artichokes. While I wouldn’t go anywhere near a stuffed artichoke as a kid, that green bean casserole had my name written all over it. My mom has been making the same green bean casserole my entire life, and as a very picky eater, this was one of the few dishes that included anything green whatsoever that I would eat — and I LOVED it. It just doesn’t feel like the holidays without it, even though I’ll eat other green foods now. 🙂 

My mom’s green beans are not your typical french cut canned beans smothered in cream of mushroom and a can of fried onions. No ma’am. This is a southern Italian twist on a standard middle-of-America dish. It includes Italian breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan and Romano cheese, seasoned salt, garlic and onion powder, and olive oil. That’s it. Layer cooked or canned whole green beans and everything I just mentioned in a baking dish and bake on 350F for 20-25 minutes. It’s a super simple and always delicious recipe, but it doesn’t quite fit into my gluten-free lifestyle anymore.

There’s just no way to make this dish happen without good Italian breadcrumbs. 

I’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving away from home for almost 10 years now, but that has simply meant that I have been making these green beans myself for about that long. Of course, going home at Christmas means getting to eat them straight from the source, but since transitioning to a gluten-free diet 6 years ago, the whole “mom’s green beans” topic has been a dicey one. I’ve tried gluten-free store-bought breadcrumbs; I’ve tried grinding up gluten-free croutons; I’ve tried making my own with various types of bread and varying levels of success.

 

Perfection + Bonus Nutritionsprouted gluten-free breadcrumbs recipe

This year, I not only perfected my gluten-free breadcrumbs recipe, I added in some bonus nutrition by using sprouted-seed bread.The gluten-free products you see in most grocery stores are typically made with high-glycemic, low-nutrient flours like potato starch, tapioca flour, sweet rice flour, and corn starch. These ingredients are typically highly processed, bleached white, and very finely ground into something completely devoid of nutritional value. They are not the stuff of health by any stretch, and most people attempting or maintaining a gluten-free diet are in fact doing it for their health. So why not start with nice, healthy breadcrumbs to top those holiday dishes we’ve all grown to love?

Why Sprouting?

Grindstone Bakery created the wonderful bread I use in this recipe out of sprouted seeds. Quinoa and millet are considered “pseudo-grains” because they’re technically in the seed family. They are sprouted and coarsely ground before being made into this nourishing bread. The act of sprouting seeds, grains, and beans is the act of changing a seed into a small plant.

This is significant for a couple of reasons:

  1. Antinutrients like phytic acid, which prevent the breakdown and absorption of proteins are neutralized
  2. Vitamins, minerals and antioxidants are made more bioavailable to our bodies by sprouting
  3. Sprouted seeds, grains, and seeds are alkalizing to the body while their inert counterparts are acid-forming
  4. Sprouting creates a more easily digested protein source by breaking down the proteins into simple amino acids
  5. Enzymes are produced during the sprouting process that aid in overall digestive function

The end result is an actively healthy ingredient to add to your holiday casserole dishes — an ingredient you can feel good about eating, sharing, and enjoying. It might even make for a nice holiday gift if you tie a pretty ribbon around the top of the jar! (For more info on sprouting, check out this post from The Nourishing Gourmet.)

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Sprouted Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are traditionally made with stale bread. If you have time for that, great, but you could also be risking moldy bread. This recipe toasts the bread to get it nice and firm before processing. Make as much or as little of this combination as you need. I filled a 12 oz mason jar with this recipe and used slightly less than half of it for one round of green beans. Freeze or refrigerate what you don't use.
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Ingredients
  1. Half a loaf of sprouted grain bread, sliced and then cut in half
  2. 3 tbs fresh rosemary
  3. 2 tbs fresh thyme
  4. 3 tbs fresh oregano
  5. 1/2 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Toast the bread in the oven at 375 for 10 minutes on each side
  2. Let cool completely on a cooling wrack
  3. In a food processor, process cooled toasted bread, the fresh herbs, and the salt
  4. Store in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge or freezer for up to 3 months
Notes
  1. I used fresh herbs from my garden and pulled off 5 or 6 stalks of each for this recipe. The tbs measurements are estimates, but err on the side of more, not less.
Cultivated Wellbeing http://cultivatedwellbeing.com/

GIVEAWAY!! Garden of Life Raw Meal [Product Review]

GOL-RawMealChoc

I’m so excited to be doing my first official product review and giveaway with Garden of Life! I met some Garden of Life reps at this year’s BlogHer conference in San Jose, and I learned about their very generous product review program. In exchange for a little PR from bloggers, Garden of Life shares full-sized samples with the writers AND the readers! I’m stoked to be giving this stuff away to you! Stay tuned, because a few more giveaways are in the works!

Background: My Past Life in Retail

Before I launch into this review, I wanted to share that I used to pedal these products (and many others) as the Supplement Buyer and Specialist at Whole Foods Market back on the East Coast. In that role, I was in charge of choosing what went on the shelves and how they were displayed. Part of my responsibility in selling all the products in the Whole Body department was to actually know what I was talking about when customers asked me questions. We were lucky to have vendors from so many supplement companies come and tell us about their products and why it might be beneficial to include them in a healthy lifestyle plan. In truth, these little vendor sessions are the reason I’m doing what I’m doing today. I was inspired.

All this is to say that I have learned about and tried a number of Garden of Life products over the years, and I understand where they sit in comparison to competitors on the shelves of natural food stores. I recognize that these products are not cheap, and I assure you that there’s a reason for that. Garden of Life offers high quality, organic, sprouted (when possible) whole food dietary supplements. They emphasize improved bioavailability of all the ingredients in their products and push for the biggest “bang for the buck” whenever possible, cramming in as many phytonutrients and boosters as they can.

Food vs Supplements

I’ll be the first to say that I’m more of a “food eater” than a “powder mixer” or “pill-popper,” so when Garden of Life offered these product reviews to me, I was hesitant. I hope that knowing I rarely take supplements will actually bolster your opinion of the products I review — if I’m going to bother reviewing them, it’s because I think they’re worth using. Take that for what it’s worth. 🙂

garden of life raw meal

When you have a look at the ingredients panel of most Garden of Life products, you’ll likely notice things that aren’t included in your typical bottle of vitamins or vat of protein powder. You’ll see sprouted grains, beans, and seeds, sea vegetables, green powders and juices, enzymes and probiotics. Basically, you’ll see things that you might buy in the bulk section of your grocery store condensed into supplement form. I like that. I think that supplements like these can play two potential roles in a person’s life.

  1. Training Wheels: If you’re just starting out on a new healthy lifestyle plan and need to on-ramp, so to speak, supplementing could be a good idea. They can help you bridge the gap between your old way of life and your slowly improving lifestyle.
  2. Next-level Booster: If you’re feeling like you’ve made all the changes you can make and are doing the very best you can with your diet and lifestyle but still feel like you need a boost (whether it’s a boost for fat loss, energy, muscle gain, digestive support, immune support, etc), then taking a few supplements could do the trick here as well. 

Typical Protein Powders

There are 2 main reasons  I don’t tend to use protein powders all that much.

  1. Flavor
  2. Quality

Flavor

I don’t like to advocate that people force themselves to stomach nasty products in the name of health. I believe that enjoying what you’re eating and doing is an integral part of being healthy, and I choose to live that way. Most protein powders taste chalky or chemical-y, or just gross to me, so I don’t use them. I do have a few favorites (check out my online store to see some of them), and I’ve just added a new favorite to the list with this Raw Meal product.

Quality

Supplements are just like food when it comes to quality, in that where and how the ingredients are sourced will impact how your body responds to them.

  • Organic ingredients in supplements are superior to conventional ones for the same reason organic foods are superior.
  • If you’re dairy-intolerant, whey won’t work for you.
  • If you have digestive or hormonal challenges, you probably shouldn’t be consuming massive amounts of soy.
  • If you’re trying to avoid GMOs, then you probably shouldn’t be consuming whey or soy, because chances are those cows were fed GMO corn and the vast majority of soy grown in this country is of the GMO variety.
  • How thoroughly these ingredients are processed makes a a great deal of difference in how they affect your system (just like with processed foods). 
  • Protein isolates (the most common ingredient in most protein powders) are taken out of the context of their whole food constituents and can sometimes create digestive upset or put stress on the liver and kidneys.

Raw Meal

Garden of Life Raw Meal

click picture to enlarge

This product contains zero whey, zero soy, and zero protein isolate. Rather, the proteins are sourced from sprouted grains, beans, and seeds. Also included are enzymes and probiotics to support the digestive process along the way. This product really is a “meal” in that regard, and I love that about it. I chose to review the chocolate one so that I wouldn’t be tempted to turn it into the base of a smoothie, my typical use for protein powders.

As for flavor, my review is a little more nuanced. If I’m going to use a protein powder, I literally NEVER mix it exclusively with water. Every time I’ve tasted a protein powder mixed with water, I’ve found it completely disgusting. This is just me, but it’s an absolutely across-the-board truth for me, even with my very favorite protein powder of all time. Because I was doing this review however, I decided to try it a few different ways, including the way the product indicates — with water. Gross. I wasn’t surprised. 

Then I tried it with unsweetened plain almond milk, and it made a world of difference. I could drink it like that for sure!

My final addition was 1/2 a banana (with a “meal” serving.Use 1/4 a banana for the “snack” serving). This was delicious! Granted, adding a bit of banana does add some sugar and calories to your drink, but a chocolate banana version of this Raw Meal was absolutely the way to go.

Delicious!

And it was thick and creamy too, which can sometimes feel more filling than a thin, liquidy drink. If you think it’s too thick with the banana, add a bit more almond milk or maybe even a little water to thin it out some.  

I drank a “snack” serving of the Raw Meal this morning, had a muffin around 10 am, and wasn’t hungry for lunch until about 1pm. I’d say that’s a pretty good fill and would imagine that a full “meal” serving would keep me full well-past 10am. 

So there you have it folks. My first Garden of Life product review! What’d you think?

Do you want to try Raw Meal for yourself?

As I said at the beginning of this post, I am giving away some Raw Meal to my readers, and I couldn’t be more excited about it! You could be one of the 5 lucky winners of a FREE full-sized jar of Raw Meal! Simply enter to win with this awesome little raffle tool below! The more entries you have, the better your chances of winning!

If you win, I’ll contact you directly to find out where to ship your winnings!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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