They're vegan, gluten-free and have just four ingredients and 35 calories per serving!

Karla Walsh
January 08, 2021
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| Credit: Instagram / @tjsfavoritefoodie

Here at EatingWell, we are proudly obsessed with salads of all kinds. As a starter, side dish or meal, there's no wrong way or wrong time of year to veg out. (These 20-minute winter salads are currently on repeat for many staffers!)

We're also firm believers that no two salads have to be the same, hence why we've mixed up the crunchy component to go far beyond bagged croutons...although we're not mad about using those every so often when we're pinched for time. From pita chips to chow mein noodles to seeds and nuts to even graham cracker pieces, we imagined we'd thought of just about everything. Or at least we did until Trader Joe's made us reconsider with their newest shelf addition: Plantain Croutons with Garlic and Sea Salt.

Spotted by @tjsfavoritefoodie in a New York City location, these vegan and gluten-free croutons look and sound like even crunchier, small-sliced tostones (AKA smashed and twice-fried green plantains popular in Caribbean and Latin American cuisine). For the unacquainted, plantains are basically a larger, tougher, more starchy and less sweet cousin of a banana.

These creative croutons are made with just four ingredients: Plantains, high-oleic sunflower oil, dried garlic and sea salt. Each 1-tablespoon salad-topping serving has 35 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbs, 0 grams of protein and a very reasonable 25 milligrams of sodium.

This all sounds really a-peeling (sorry, we had to!) to us, so once we're able to snag our own bag, we have our sights set on sprinkling these atop not only salads, but also soups, stews (plantain-garnished Bacalao Stew, anyone?!) and even blitzing them into a breadcrumb texture to coat chicken or fish for the air fryer.

Don't have a Trader Joe's near you? You can snag very similar plantain croutons online (they're also gluten-free and vegan!). Buy them: $12 for three, 5-ounce bags on Amazon.