Bread looking all cute again? Three ways to curb carb cravings

Every time I try to unfriend bread, it finds its way back to me.

Like a no-good-for-you ex you really need to stop hanging out with already, it's alluring, dangerous, delicious.

I am not one to condone a no-carb lifestyle unless it's absolutely necessary. Everything in moderation and all that — plus it's difficult and often unsatisfying. But even I will admit that the easiest way to get back into pants that have been feeling a little snug lately is to forego the puffy starches that are so easily consumed and rarely that satiating.

After a couple of weeks of not indulging in bread as regularly as I had been (read: I didn't allow it into my house), bread came around looking all cute and appealing again when I read this collection of recipes for toast.

I had to try one of them, an outstanding corn-sour cream-scallion option that was bursting with umami flavor.

But the insidious thing about bread is that you can't just buy one slice. With half a loaf staring at me after the first toast test, I came up with my own recipe to use up the rest of the slices. As is, this recipe is a light, bright accompaniment to eggs or a big bowl of fruit and yogurt for a wholesome breakfast. If you want to amp it up a bit, try adding a sliced banana to each slice of bread and omitting the lemon zest.

I'm going back to more mindful bread consumption after this, and to make it easier on myself, I have devised three ways to curb starchy carb cravings. After you indulge in the following toast recipe, use these for the rest of the week and try to achieve the balance we all crave. Just not as much as some of us crave bread.

Zucchini noodles: Turned into thick spirals with a proper spiralizer, the texture and flavor of zucchini noodles is wholly satisfying when topped with regular pasta trimmings: meatballs, red sauce and lots of Parmesan cheese.

Everything bagel seasoning: When Trader Joe's recently debuted its pre-mixed Everything Bagel seasoning, I bought five jars. It's also easy to make at home — salt, garlic, dried onion, poppy seeds, sesame seeds — and however you come by it, know that it's a great addition to more than just bread. Try it on all manner of roasted vegetables, or as a seasoning for chicken. The best use? Roll a log of hard cheese (like cheddar) in the seasoning, slice it, and you may even be able to convince yourself there is a bagel under that cheese.

Crunchy chickpeas: One of my favorite recent revelations in the kitchen came when I toasted some chopped canned chickpeas in olive oil and salt until they were crispy, then served them atop a salad a la croutons. Chickpeas also make for a hearty snack on their own. Coat a skillet with ¼-inch of olive oil, then add whole beans, season with salt, paprika and black pepper, and cook until lightly fried.

Hazelnut Toast

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup whole hazelnuts
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • 2 slices multigrain or whole wheat bread
  • 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese (or regular cream cheese)
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • Honey, to taste
  • Fresh mint, roughly chopped, to taste

Instructions

Roughly chop hazelnuts (you can leave the skin on) and place them in a small skillet. Heat skillet to medium heat, then add a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Stir and let the hazelnuts toast for about 5 minutes, or until fragrant but not too brown.

Toast bread in a toaster or oven, then place on a flat surface.

Smear 1 tablespoon cheese on each slice, then top with hazelnuts, lemon zest, honey and fresh mint. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times