Mmmm, crackers. Who doesn’t like crackers? They’re comfort food. They’re convenience food. But healthy food? Usually not. Making crackers is something that has been on my list for ages, and now that I’ve made these I’m wondering why I waited so long. I guess it seemed a bit daunting, but it totally isn’t.
These crackers have something for practically everyone. They’re gluten free, which is a big deal for a lot of folks out there. I’m super lucky, I don’t have trouble digesting really anything, but so many people I know, including some of my closest friends, have some degree of gluten intolerance. I’m trying to better understand gluten intolerance and subsequently, gluten free baking, so when I saw the recipe for these crackers I jumped at the chance to try them out.
These crackers are also vegan, and are also made entirely of whole foods. Don’t let that put you off, though, if you think of vegan baking as, as my Dad is so fond of referring to it, vegetarian nose-pick. Paul asked me what the quinoa and brown rice I had cooked and stashed in the fridge was for, and I told him I was making vegan and gluten free crackers. He wrinkled his nose at that notion, and walked away. Guess who ate half the batch? These crackers are good! Even if you’re not gluten intolerant, trying out gluten free baking, or vegan, I implore you to give this recipe a try. It’s easy, you can impress people by putting out a spread of homemade crackers that everyone can eat, and they’re so tasty I know they’ll become a recurring recipe.
Happy Crackers Recipe:
These crackers come together reasonably quickly if you’ve taken the time to cook the brown rice and quinoa in advance. They are incredibly versatile – you could add in nuts, seeds, olives, dried fruit, spices, salts, whatever your heart desires. The critical thing is to roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper. I suggest holding one edge of the parchment with one hand and rolling away from that hand with your rolling pin in the other hand. Divide the dough into 3 or 4 portions. I attempted to roll out half the dough in one go on the first try, and succeeded only in making a mess. No matter though, if any dough comes out the edges of your parchment you can easily scoop it up and re-roll it with the next batch.
Recipe from My New Roots
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups cooked quinoa (I used a mix of red, black, and white quinoa)
2/3 cup unhulled sesame seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp tamari (I used Bragg*)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
Combine the flax seeds and water in a small bowl and allow to soak for at least 20 minutes.
Heat a medium, dry, skillet over medium heat and add the sesame seeds to toast, tossing frequently so they don’t burn. When they become fragrant, remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Preheat your oven to 180 C / 350 F.
In a food processor, combine cooked brown rice, cooked quinoa, soaked flax, tamari, olive oil, and salt. Let it whirl around until a dough is formed – it should start to form a bit of a ball. If the mixture is too dry you can add a little water, 1 Tbsp at a time, but be careful that the mixture does not become too wet. The dough should be very sticky. Add the sesame seeds and pulse to combine.
Remove the dough from the food processor onto a piece of parchment. Knead in any add ins you like (wet hands are very helpful here). Divide the dough into 3 or 4 portions. Take the portion of dough you’re going to be working with and form a flat disk on a piece of parchment. Top with another piece of parchment and use a rolling pin to roll the dough quite thin. Remove the top piece of parchment, and using a knife or a pizza wheel, cut into desired shape. Now slide the entire piece of parchment into a waiting baking sheet, and place in the oven. Repeat with remaining dough, or wrap it tightly in plastic and place in the fridge or freezer for later use.
Bake for 25 – 35 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough. I found that it was helpful towards the end of baking to break the crackers apart and remove the crisper ones around the edges.
Remove the crackers from the oven and allow to cool on the sheet for about five minutes. Break up crackers along the score lines, and store in an airtight container.
Know what you’re eating: what’s good about this? Quinoa not only has a very high protein content (about 18%), but it also contains a complete set of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It’s a great source of dietary fiber, phosphorous, and is high in magnesium and iron. Brown rice is a source of dietary fiber, manganese, selenium, magnesium, and tryptophan. Did you know that the process of converting brown rice to white rice destroys 60 – 80% of the vitamins and minerals, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids? Think of white rice like cake, it’s a special occasion food and should be eaten in moderation. Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole food with a myriad of health benefits from colon health to cholesterol lowering. You can have your cake and eat it too! Flax seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. They are extraordinarily high in Omega-3 fatty acids, with just two tablespoons of flax seeds containing over 130% of the recommended daily intake. Flax seeds are also high in dietary fiber, including mucilaginous fiber, which slows down the emptying of stomach contents into the small intestine and helps improve nutrition absorption in the intestine. Additionally, flax seeds are rich in the fiber-related polyphenols, lignans, which have been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Flax seeds are a source of magnesium, manganese, and phosphorous. Sesame seeds, like flax, are a good source of cholesterol lowering lignans (they are second to flax in lignan content, but don’t even come close to comparing to the amount that flax has). Sesame seeds are also a source of manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber.
Do ahead: These crackers can be made and stored in an air tight container for about a week. Dough can be refrigerated or frozen for future use if you don’t want to use it all in one day.
All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012