What is melba toast?
Melba toast is a type of thinly sliced, dry toast made from bread that has been baked until crisp and golden brown. It was created in 1897 by famed French chef Auguste Escoffier for opera singer Nellie Melba, for whom the toast was named.
Melba toast is made by taking a slice of bread, usually white bread, removing the crusts, splitting it horizontally, and toasting the halves until they are very dry and crispy. This results in a version of bread that is lower in carbohydrates and calories compared to regular toast. The dry, crunchy texture of melba toast allows it to be eaten as finger food without creating crumbs.
Nutrition facts of melba toast
Here are the basic nutrition facts for melba toast, based on a 1-ounce (around 5 slices) serving:
As you can see, melba toast is low in calories, fat, and sodium. It provides a decent amount of carbohydrates and a small amount of fiber and protein.
The number of calories can vary slightly depending on the brand and type of bread used. Some melba toast versions are made with whole grain bread and may be higher in fiber and nutrients.
Benefits of melba toast
Here are some of the main benefits associated with melba toast:
– Low in calories – With only around 70 calories per ounce, melba toast can be a good option if you are watching your calorie intake. The dry, crunchy texture provides satisfaction for very few calories.
– Low in fat – Regular bread and toast can contain a few grams of fat per slice. The fat content is minimized in melba toast through the drying process during twice toasting.
– Fewer carbs than regular bread – Because melba toast is made from thinly sliced bread with the crust removed, it has a lower amount of overall carbohydrates compared to standard bread slices.
– Crunchy, convenient finger food – The crunchy texture and portability make melba toast an easy grab-and-go snack. You can eat it on its own or pair it with dips, spreads, or toppings.
– Less messy than regular toast – Without any butter or toppings, melba toast produces far fewer crumbs than regular slice toast, making it convenient to eat while working or reading.
– Gluten-free options available – For those avoiding gluten, some brands make gluten-free melba toast using grains like rice or quinoa instead of wheat.
– Potential probiotic benefits – Some melba toast versions are made with sprouted whole grain bread, which may offer probiotics to support digestive health.
– Can be used as bread crumb substitute – When ground into crumbs, melba toast can substitute for regular bread crumbs to provide crunch and texture for recipes.
Potential downsides of melba toast
However, there are also some potential downsides to consider with melba toast:
– Low in nutrients – Since melba toast is made from white bread with the crust removed, it is not a significant source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, or other nutrients found in whole grains.
– High glycemic index – Being low in fiber and higher in refined carbs, melba toast has a high glycemic index, meaning it can spike blood sugar quickly. This may be a concern for people with diabetes.
– Low in protein and healthy fats – Compared to some other snack options, melba toast is low in satiating protein and healthy fats like those found in nuts, nut butters, and avocado.
– Can contain additives – Mass-produced melba toast sometimes contains preservatives, emulsifiers, and other additives to extend shelf life. Check labels if you want to avoid these ingredients.
– Not whole grain – For those looking to increase whole grain intake, melba toast made from refined white flour does not provide the benefits of whole wheat or other whole grain bread.
– Easy to overeat – The low-calorie, dry, crunchy nature of melba toast means it is easy to overindulge and overeat during a snack or as an accompaniment to dips. Portion control is important.
Melba toast as part of a healthy diet
Melba toast can be part of a healthy diet in moderation, but there are some things to keep in mind:
– Stick to 1-2 ounces per serving and be aware of portion size. It’s lower in calories than regular bread or crackers, but can add up fast if overeaten.
– Combine it with protein sources – Pair melba toast with lean meats, eggs, hummus, Greek yogurt, or nut butters to make a more balanced snack.
– Choose whole grain melba toast when possible for more fiber and nutrients. Or, opt for whole grain crackers instead.
– Don’t rely on it as your sole grain intake. Get plenty of whole grains from oats, brown rice, quinoa and whole grain bread as well.
– If you have diabetes, pair melba toast with healthy fats and protein to prevent blood sugar spikes.
– Hydrate while snacking to help fill your stomach.
– Avoid excessive sodium intake by choosing lower sodium melba toast options and unsalted toppings.
– Buy melba toast without unhealthy additives like palm oil or interesterified oils.
Healthier melba toast topping ideas
To make your melba toast snack healthier, creative toppings are key. Here are some ideas:
– Smashed avocado or guacamole
– Almond butter or cashew butter
– Ricotta cheese with a drizzle of honey
– Salmon or tuna salad
– Tomato slices and basil
– Cucumber slices and goat cheese
– Roasted vegetables like eggplant or zucchini
– Olive tapenade
– Salsa or bean dip
– Lean turkey, ham, or roast beef slices
– Wilted spinach with lemon juice
– Scrambled eggs or egg salad
– Greek yogurt ranch dip
– Cottage cheese and black pepper
The possibilities are endless for delicious and nutritious melba toast toppings! Using lots of veggies, healthy fats, lean protein, and fiber-rich ingredients can help maximize nutrition.
Healthy melba toast recipe ideas
If you want to make your own melba toast at home, here are some healthy recipe ideas:
– Multi-grain melba toast – Use multi-grain or sprouted grain breads and top with mashed avocado and sprouts
– Cinnamon raisin melba toast – Make with whole wheat cinnamon raisin bread and top with peanut butter
– Everything bagel melba toast – Use everything bagel seasoning on top for flavor
– Pesto melba toast – Brush with pesto before toasting or top after with pesto, tomatoes, and parmesan
– Vanilla almond melba toast – Top with vanilla almond butter and banana slices
– Chocolate peanut butter melba toast – Use whole grain bread and top with melted peanut butter and cacao nibs
– Strawberry cream cheese melba toast – Top with whipped cream cheese and sliced strawberries
– Ricotta and fig melba toast – Top with part-skim ricotta cheese and fig preserves
Be creative and have fun topping your homemade melba toast! Using whole grain bread as the base provides extra fiber and nutrients.
Is melba toast gluten-free?
Traditional melba toast is made from wheat bread, so regular melba toast contains gluten. However, gluten-free options are available by using bread made from gluten-free grains.
Some common gluten-free options for melba toast include:
– Rice bread or rice cake melba toast
– Quinoa flour bread
– Buckwheat flour bread
– Corn bread melba toast
– Gluten-free oat bread
– Sorghum flour bread
Be sure to check labels to confirm the melba toast is certified gluten-free, as some can be contaminated with gluten during production. Making your own gluten-free melba toast at home is the best way to ensure it is safe for gluten-free diets.
Melba toast can be incorporated into a healthy diet when eaten in moderation as part of an overall balanced nutrition plan. It provides a crunchy, convenient, low-calorie bread alternative that can be paired with various healthy toppings and ingredients.
However, it is lower in overall nutrients compared to whole grain bread options. Be mindful of portions, combine it with protein and healthy fats, and consume plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains as well. Making your own melba toast using fiber-rich whole grain bread is an easy way to increase nutrition.
When paired with nutritious toppings and enjoyed as part of a varied diet focused on whole foods, melba toast can be a tasty, satisfying gluten-free snack for people looking to decrease their overall carbohydrate and calorie intake.