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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 

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://www.tonisicola.com/

Easy One-pan Meal: Low-carb Green Bean Casserole

My mom is famous for her Italian green bean casserole. Not to be confused with anything involving cream of mushroom soup or fried onions, she layers canned green beans, Italian breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, Lawry’s seasoned salt, and olive oil, in a pan, puts it in the oven, and that’s it. Simple, delicious, full of flavor and childhood nostalgia. 

healthy green bean casserole low carb one-pan mealFresh Green Beans

As a general rule, I try to minimize canned foods and maximize fresh veggies, and since we’ve been super lucky this season with our green bean yield in the garden, I decided to create my own one-pan meal inspired by my mom’s famous recipe. 

If you’re like me, you want dinner to be easy prep and easy clean-up. Since my food-making workshop is a 1950’s kitchen with zero upgrades (no dishwasher, no disposal), I like to dirty as few dishes as possible with one-pot or one-pan meals. 

This recipe works great for a low-carb lifestyle full of flavor and joy without the hassle of exact measurements and tons of dishes.

I like to call my no-measure style of cooking “intuitive cooking” because it involves trusting your instincts and going with what looks and feels right. That being said, I know that intuitive cooking isn’t for everyone, so I will give some estimates so you can get the hang of it. 

healthy green bean casserole low carb one pot meal

Ingredients for this recipe are super simple (serves 4):

  • Fresh green beans (enough to line a large plan without really stacking them on top of each other)
  • About 1 lb of your favorite ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken, pork, loose sausage)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (to avoid a greasy dish, use very sparingly if you choose loose sausage, which tends to have a higher fat content)
  • Your favorite hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano, and asiago all work great), shredded or grated
  • sliced almonds
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt (affiliate link)
  • Water and a pinch of salt

Healthy Low-Carb Green Bean Casserole one pot meal

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Rinse and snip the ends of the beans
  3. Place a layer of beans in a baking pan and add 1 inch of water and a pinch of salt
  4. Braise in the oven for 10 minutes
  5. While the beans are in the oven, warm a skillet and add your ground meat, browning completely
  6. Drain off any liquid in your skillet and set cooked meat aside
  7. Once the beans have been in for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and drain remaining water from the pan
  8. Layer the remaining ingredients on top of the braised beans in the following order:
    1. ground meat 
    2. garlic powder (light sprinkle over the entire surface of the dish)
    3. onion powder (light sprinkle over the entire surface of the dish)
    4. shredded almonds
    5. shredded cheese
    6. Lawrys seasoned salt
  9. Bake at 350F for 12 to 15 minutes until the cheese turns a golden brown

 greenbean casserole

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