So I love croutons on salad, soup, and anything where a little crunch is in order. But have you ever read the ingredient list on your average package of croutons?? Yikes! I firmly believe that if it sounds like a chemical weapon, it has no business in my food. Plus, like a lot of commercial baked goods, some crouton brands have trans fats, which are seriously bad news. Trans fats are fat molecules that are twisted around into hook shapes that can attach to cells in your digestive tract and majorly up your chances of cancer and other diseases. There are miniscule amounts of trans fats found naturally in all food, but I'm talking about products that have them added, usually in the form of funky cooking oil. The USDA daily limit for trans fats is zero, meaning you shouldn't be adding ANY to your diet in measurable amounts.
So, what's a crunch-loving girl to do? Make croutons, of course! Here's today's afternoon project:
Step 1: Cut whole wheat bread into slices. Slightly stale bread works the best because it's easier to slice and because it will drink up the rest of the ingredients more easily. I used three slices of bread and two smaller heels.
Step 2: Place squares into a large bowl so you have room to work.
Step 3: Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Bread should be covered but not soaked. (Melted butter works too, if you want a richer flavor.)
Step 4: Add desired spices. I used garlic salt, oregano, black pepper, and onion powder for this batch. Mix well.
Step 5: Spread squares in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes. Flip squares and bake five additional minutes on the other side.
Step 6: While croutons bake, shred 1/4 cup parmesan.
Step 7: Sprinkle croutons with cheese and bake an additional five minutes or until cheese is browned and stuck to croutons. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. (I use a large zipper bag.)
Variation: Cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter make amazing sweet croutons for dessert toppings!