Salad Crunch Without the Carbs (Paleo Croutons)

by Sarah Gluten Free, Grain Free, RecipesComments: 22

One of the most enjoyable aspects of eating a salad is the bit of crunchiness that the croutons add to each bite. What then, do you do if you are avoiding grain based carbs for either weight control or health reasons? Perhaps you simply do not want to consume these highly processed bits of dried bread that frequently contain MSG among other additives and fillers (even organic croutons have this problem, by the way).

My favorite way to add crunchiness to a salad with no carbs is to sprinkle on some homemade pepitas. Pepitas are slightly tangy, crispy pumpkin seeds that have been soaked in filtered water with sea salt and a bit of cayenne pepper and then dried in a slightly warm (no higher than 150F) oven to preserve rawness.

As described in Nourishing Traditions Cookbook, seeds were one of the staple foods in the diet of the Aztec culture and preparation involved soaking the seeds in brine and then drying them out in the sun. The pepitas were consumed whole or ground into meal for baking after the drying process was complete. Seeds should always be soaked and then dried before consuming, by the way, to neutralize the antinutrients in the hulls of the seeds which interfere with digestion and absorption of nutrients. Why bother eating seeds at all if you can’t absorb the nutrition from them? Once again, traditional cultures show us that proper preparation of the nutrient dense foods is as important as the food itself.

I hope you find this recipe as enjoyable as I do. By the way, a handful of these pepitas for a quick afternoon snack is very satisfying and will wake you up from any mid-afternoon drowsiness much better than a Snickers bar or other nutritionally empty snack high in calories.

Pepitas (Paleo Croutons)
4 cups raw, hulled pumpkin seeds (sources)
2 TBL sea salt (sources)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (sources)
filtered water

In a large glass bowl, stir salt into the filtered water and add pumpkin seeds and cayenne. Leave uncovered on the kitchen counter for at least 7 hours or overnight. Drain in a colander and spread wet seeds on cookie sheets. Dry in a warm oven (no more than 150F) for 12 hours or until completely dry.

Pepitas keep well in an airtight container in the pantry – even in tropical climes like Florida!


Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

The Healthy Home Economist holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mother to 3 healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, and many others.

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