By Jean Redstone
Lately, half the people I know have decided to drastically change their diets by going gluten free. I have never given a crumb of thought (there’s a pun in there for my “g-free” friends) about whether to gluten or not to gluten, but the subject is coming up a lot. Even restaurants often have a separate, gluten-free menu so who am I to ignore an obvious need?
It is hard to find tasty gluten-free products so many of my friends want to cook for themselves. A major worry is finding snacks that fit a gluten-free diet, especially affordable ones. But here are three that are easy to make, low on calories and carbs and, best of all, meet the tasty test.
Instead of crackers or potato chips (which, if not made with a flour ingredient, actually are already gluten-free), try these homemade chips. They are great as a snack by themselves or as a chip to use with fruit or veggie dips.
You’ll find they can substitute for the usual reach-fors to satisfy the munchies, or as unique offerings for parties and guests. Grab a cheese or kale chip and top a burger with it, or make kale chip bruschetta with minced tomato and onion.
If you need to eat gluten-free, you needn’t eat tasty-free.
2 bananas, peeled
1 C fresh squeezed lemon juice OR 1 C reconstituted juice
Preheat oven to 200 F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Cut bananas into 1/4-inch slices. Dip slices in lemon juice, then place on prepared baking sheet. Bake, turning over once, until golden brown and crispy, about 3 hours. Remove from oven and let cool.
Optional: Drizzle chips with honey, chocolate sauce, maple syrup, fruit syrups, caramel sauce – whatever you think will please. Serves 6 people.
1 bunch of kale, washed, dried and stems removed, chopped into 3-inch pieces
3 Tbls olive oil
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Sea salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Wash kale leaves and pat dry. In a medium mixing bowl, toss all ingredients together until the kale leaves are evenly coated. Place leaves evenly apart on the baking sheet, and bake about 5 to 8 minutes until kale is crispy. Keep watch as over-baking will cause browning around the edges. Makes about 5 servings.
TIP: Save time by using packaged, washed, fresh baby kale leaves.
½ C (about 2 oz.) grated or shredded hard cheese, such as parmesan, cheddar, asiago, or manchego,
OR you can use pre-shredded packaged cheese if you’re in a hurry. (Don’t use “canned” grated cheese, it usually has additives.)
Preheat oven to 350°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form about 1 tablespoon of the cheese into a thin circle on the parchment paper; repeat with the remaining cheese, leaving 2 inches between circles — the cheese will spread as it heats. Bake until the cheese is golden brown and lacy, 5 to 10 minutes. Baking time will depend on how dry the cheese is: Parmesan will crisp faster than cheddar because it has less moisture, for example. The chips are done when they’ve become a uniform golden brown and have a lacy texture. Be careful not to over-cook or, like overdone bacon, they will be dark brown, hard and dry. It can happen in seconds!
Cool on the baking sheet, then serve. Makes 8 or 9 crisps
NOTE: Make sure to use parchment paper. The cheese will stick to tin foil, wax paper, or (yes, it will!) to baking sheets, lined or not, sprayed with cooking spray.
TIP: Enlarge your chip repertoire — add by pinches some dry spices such as garlic or onion powder, dry salad dressing mix, pepper flakes or savory dried, minced herbs. You control the flavor. You can even mix cheeses for unique, custom chips.
EASIER BAKED CHEESE CHIPS
3 or 4 pre-packaged single cheese slices
Cut slices into quarters and place each quarter on a parchment sheet-lined cookie pan, about 2 inches from each other in all directions. Then follow above instructions. Watch carefully, as above, and remove when cheese crisps are golden brown, crisping on edges. They will not be as lacy, but they will turn hard and dark just as quickly.
Sprinkle with herbs and spices while still warm from the oven, if desired. Let cool and serve. Makes a dozen to 16 chips.