Crackers

For the Love of Chicken Nuggets: Taste-bud Rejuvenation for Kids and Kids at Heart

A 5-Week Blog Series for Full House MOMs and Dads

By: Megan Roosevelt, RD, LD, Founder and CEO of Healthy Grocery Girl

http://www.healthygrocerygirl.com

Crunchy, crisp, and oh so tasty, hello crackers!

So how could something so wonderful, ever go so wrong? The magic is in the ingredients. Let’s examine some common cracker flops and some healthier alternatives.

I love saltine crackers, I really do! But these guys put the crack in crackers, it’s hard to just eat one! In addition to being hard to manage portion control, check out the ingredient list!

Generic Saltine Soda Cracker Ingredients: UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE {VITAMIN B1}, RIBOFLAVIN {VITAMIN B2}, FOLIC ACID), SOYBEAN OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED COTTONSEED OIL, SEA SALT, SALT, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, BAKING SODA, YEAST. CONTAINS: WHEAT (1).

Partially Hydrogenated Oils which are Trans Fats, are man-made and chemically created to increase the shelf-life of food, which sadly in return decreases our shelf-life. These crackers also are made from “enriched flour” which is code word for processed and striped of nutrients, therefore the company must “enrich” nutrients back into the product. These crackers also lack any fiber, protein, vitamins or minerals.

So let’s try a wheat cracker, that has to be healthier. How about Wheat-Thins. The words thin and wheat sounds healthy, right?

Wheat Thin Ingredients: WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT FLOUR, UNBLEACHED ENRICHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE {VITAMIN B1}, RIBOFLAVIN {VITAMIN B2}, FOLIC ACID), SOYBEAN OIL, SUGAR, CORNSTARCH, MALT SYRUP (FROM BARLEY AND CORN), SALT, INVERT SUGAR, LEAVENING (CALCIUM PHOSPHATE AND/OR BAKING SODA), VEGETABLE COLOR (ANNATTO EXTRACT, TURMERIC OLEORESIN). BHT ADDED TO PACKAGING MATERIAL TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS. CONTAINS: WHEAT (2).

This is a long list of ingredients for a cracker! Ingredients that jump out to me are enriched flour, soybean oil, sugar, cornstarch, malt syrup (more sugar) and BHT. “Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydrozyttoluene (BHT) are preservatives found in cereals, chewing gum, potato chips, and vegetable oils. This common preservative keeps foods from changing color, changing flavor or becoming rancid. Effects the neurological system of the brain, alters behavior and has potential to cause cancer. BHA and BHT are oxidants which form cancer-causing reactive compounds in your body (3).” Yikes!

Healthier “Cleaner Ingredient” Cracker Alternatives:

Food Should Taste Good Chips (crackers)
Mary’s Gone Cracker’s Crackers
Kashi TLC Crackers
Triscuits
Brown Rice Cakes

 

Healthy Dips for Crackers

Almond Butter
Avocado
Cashew Cream Sauce
Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Butter
Hummus
Peanut Butter
Pesto
Salsa

Homemade Wheat Thin Crackers

From: Ohsheglows (4)

Yield: ~64 crackers

Ingredients:

1        1 1/4 cups (5 oz) 100% whole wheat flour
2        1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3        1/2 teaspoon salt, plus extra for sprinkling on
4        1/4 teaspoon paprika
5        4 tablespoons Earth Balance (I used soy-free) or butter
6        1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water (or a tiny bit more if dough is too dry)
7        1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick mat.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, paprika, salt).

3. With a pastry blender (or two forks), cut in the Earth Balance or butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. See image below. Now mix together the water and vanilla and then pour into the flour and Earth balance mixture. Stir this mixture until it comes together. I got in there with my hands and really squeezed the dough to help it come together. If it appears dry add a touch of water, but you don’t want it sticky.

4. Split the dough in half. On a floured surface or on a non-stick mat, roll out one half of the dough very thin (1/16th inch). Using a pizza cutter, cut into whatever shape you desire. Using a spatula, place the crackers on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat as necessary. Sprinkle with more salt and sesame seeds if desired.

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, watching closely. Half way through baking rotate the pan to ensure even baking. My crackers took 10 minutes, but if you do not use a baking mat it will likely take less time for you. Be careful because they burn quickly. Cool completely. Makes about 64 crackers for this full recipe. Store in an air-tight container.

For nutrition and health related questions please contact:

Megan Roosevelt, RD, LD at info@healthygrocerygirl.com or visit http://www.healthygrocerygirl.com

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Resources:

1. http://www.nabiscoworld.com/Brands/ProductInformation.aspx?BrandKey=premium&Site=1&Product=4400000057

2. http://www.nabiscoworld.com/Brands/ProductInformation.aspx?BrandKey=wheatthins&Site=1&Product=4400004688

3. http://www.foodmatters.tv/articles-1/top-10-food-additives-to-avoid

4. http://ohsheglows.com/2011/02/17/homemade-wheat-thins/