As I was baking a batch of homemade crackers the other day my 2 year old came wandering into the kitchen… nose in the air…”Mama, what DAT SMELL?”
I said, “Crackers, honey!”
“OHHHHHHH!,” she squealed like she just won the lottery…”I LOOOOOOOOVE crackers!”
Both my kids love crackers. I wish they loved kale, but the truth of the matter is that they love crackers. Because of their infatuation with crackers, I try to make them as much as I can instead of buying them from the store. Homemade is always better, right? Well, yeah…but I’m also human and I buy them at the store from time to time too. We’ve actually been buying them a lot this summer because we are moving back to California from Argentina and our furniture hasn’t even arrived from South America yet. I find it IMPOSSIBLE to cook AND live out of my suitcase at the same time…I know…I’m such a slacker.
While I’m a stickler about buying organic, GMO-free crackers for my kids…there is one secret unhealthy ingredient in crackers that I have a hard time avoiding in ANY organic brand.
What is this SECRET, UNHEALTHY INGREDIENT you may ask?
The answer: VEGETABLE OIL.
WHAT? VEGETABLE OIL? We are told all the time that vegetable oils are GOOD for us. Well, we are also told that low fat, pasteurized dairy is good for us and eating too many eggs will lead to high cholesterol…both of which are false. And don’t get me started on the whole saturated fats are bad for you myth. We’ve all fallen in love with coconut oil by now, haven’t we?
So what’s so unhealthy about vegetable oils?
Vegetable oils like canola oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil and corn oil are parading around in organic food circles acting like health foods, but in reality these oils should be avoided like the plague. Oils like soybean oil and canola oil are almost always genetically modified which is reason enough to avoid them. But what about the safflower oil or sunflower oil in your child’s favorite ORGANIC cracker? I’m sorry I have to type what I’m about to type.
The problem with vegetable oils
Vegetable oils are genetically modified: Yes, most canola, soy and corn oils on the market today are genetically modified. No scientific research was done on these foods before they hit the market in 1996 and new research done by concerned consumer groups show these genetically modified organisms are both toxic and allergenic. GMOs are restricted or banned in 30 countries and counting. In the United States GMOs are present in the majority of packaged foods and currently the USA has no labeling requirements for genetically modified ingredients. (source). Not to mention we’ve seen a steep rise in childhood food allergies since GMOs entered our food system.
Vegetables oils are fake: Vegetable oils are anything but natural. In fact the process to make canola oil is pretty frightening. You can read about it here or watch a video here. Want the cliff notes version? The seeds are heated up super high, making them oxidized and rancid before the process even starts. Next add a few petroleum products to extract the oil, acids for cleaning, chemicals for color, and deodorizers to remove all the chemical smell. YUM. Sounds like a recipe for cancer to me.
Vegetable oils are full of chemicals and pesticides: Okay take the process I described above and then imagine that the plant was sprayed with all kinds of pesticides and insecticides before it was even harvested for production. AWESOME.
Vegetable oils are full of PUFAs: Vegetable oils are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are very unstable and oxidize very easily. Oxidized oils act like trans fats in the body…which means they are really, really bad for you. You can read more about them here but the bottom line is: PUFAs create an internal environment ripe for inflammation, free radicals, and disease. Stay away.
Vegetable oils cause inflammation: Vegetable oils are very high in omega-6 fatty acids. Even cold pressed vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Our bodies need a proper ratio of omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids to function properly. When we have an excess of omega 6 in the body, chronic inflammation develops and will cause things like poor immune function, autoimmune disease, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
So what now?
Okay, maybe your child is eating an organic cracker, the GMO-free variety. That means said cracker does not contain genetically modified organisms or pesticides/insecticides. However, even cold-pressed vegetable oils will still contain high levels of PUFAs and too many omega-6 fatty acids lead to chronic inflammation and decreased immune function. So after you read my post about safe oils to cook with in the kitchen, then take a look at the recipe below and see how easy and good homemade crackers can be!
My kids call these cookie crackers and I literally have to pull them away from the plate. We use this buttermilk biscuit mix but you can also use this gluten free mix if your family is gluten free. Enjoy!
- 1 cup tapioca flour
- 1 cup Bob's Buttermilk Biscuit Mix (use Pamela's Pancake and Baking mix for gluten-free)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
- dash of salt
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
- In a small bowl whisk together the flours and the pinch of salt, set aside
- In another small bowl mix together the wet ingredients: eggs, maple syrup and melted coconut.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine
- The dough should be like cookie dough--if it's too crumbly then add a teaspoon of water. If it's too wet all a teaspoon of flour until you have a ball of dough.
- Between two pieces of oiled parchment paper (I grease mine with coconut oil), use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it's pretty thin. The dough will puff up a bit as it bakes so I roll mine out as thin as I can. Place parchment paper/dough on a cookie sheet. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and place cookie sheet in oven for 15-17 minutes. Keep an eye on it and when it's golden brown you're ready to eat! Let it cool slightly and then cut into squares.
Interested in trying some other homemade cracker recipes? Check out some of my favorites:
Sprouted Flour Cheddar Crackers from Mommypotamus
Soaked Wheat Honey Graham Crackers from the Healthy Honeys
Cheesy Paleo Crackers from The Savory Lotus
Homemade Whole Wheat Crackers from The Elliott Homestead
Crispy Chocolate Cheese Crackers from Real Food RN
Gluten free Goldfish Crackers from Thank Your Body
Toasted Sunflower Honey Crackers from Kula Mama (that’s ME!)