Are crackers a must for every school lunchbox?5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The kids often tell me that they’re lunches are `different’ to everyone else at school. A wild generalisation I know. So I asked them about some of the popular things that kids have in their lunch boxes. All four kids said that `everyone’ has a packet of Shapes. (You should know that Nan!)

Then there’s the big question, `Why can’t we have them too?’.

Let’s have look at the ingredients in these popular `sugar free’ (aka `good for you’?) snacks. Apart from the gluten…..

Here they are as written on the box of one brand. IngredientsWheat Flour, Vegetable Oil, Cheese (Contains Milk), Sesame Seeds, Salt, Vegetable Extract (From Maize), Yeast, Tomato Powder, Spices, Glucose, Raising Agent (E500), Natural Flavour, Starch, Onion Powder, Colours (Turmeric, Cochineal), Emulsifier (E322 From Soy), Antioxidants (E306 From Soy, E304).

Definitely a few things there we don’t want to be having!! For example vegetable oil, and `natural flavourings’…no thanks.

There’s a great extract from a book called `Swallow This – serving up the food industries darkest secrets’ by Joanna Blythman on Cyndi O’Meara’s Changing Habits site. Here’s what they have to say about these two additives alone:
‘Pure’ vegetable oil – Industrially refined, bleached, deodorised oils. Food processors often add chemicals to extend their “fry life”.

‘Natural’ flavourings – Even the flavour industry concedes that “there isn’t much difference in the chemical compositions of natural and artificial flavourings”. They are made using the same physical, enzymatic, and microbiological processes.

In search of the perfect cracker…

So started the hunt for cheese crackers to fit the brief: Suitable for school lunch boxes, gluten free, low or no added sugar, and of course, nut free, but rich in nutrients. And for the kids, they have to vaguely resemble the supermarket crackers.

There were lots of recipes around that use almond flour or other nut flours and they taste great. Then there’s the ones using arrowroot or tapioca flours which are very high in carbs without much nutrition.

The first obvious thing for me was to try something with coconut flour, but I found that the crackers just didn’t measure up in the area of crunchiness. Fail!

The recipe we finally created turned out to be a winner. Crunchy crackers that can be served just like you would regular crackers from the supermarket…with dips, spreads, cheese, etc. And they keep really well so long as they are in an airtight container. So here it is for you.

Crunchy Cheese Crackers

Ingredients:

  • 100g Pumpkin Seeds – ground to flour
  • 100g Sunflower Seeds – ground to flour
  • 2 Eggs
  • 250 g grated Cheddar Cheese (Cheddar cheese gives them a nice bubbly look)
  • 2 pinches Salt
  • Sprig of Rosemary or other herbs of choice (garlic, sage, thyme, paprika…)
  • 15 g Olive Oil or 1 Tabsp
  • 1/4 cup extra Seeds to sprinkle on top (Sesame, Sunflower, Linseed,  etc)
  • Baking paper

Instructions (Thermomix):

Cheese Crackers
Cheese Crackers
  1. Preheat oven to 180 C. (Fan forced)
  2. Put Pumpkin and Sunflower  seeds into TM Bowl. Mill 10 SEC / SPEED 7. Set aside
  3. Put Cheese & Rosemary (or other herbs) into TM Bowl grate 7 SEC / SPEED 9. Set aside
  4. Put Eggs, Salt and Olive Oil into TM Bowl 10 SEC / SPEED 4.
  5. Place remaining ingredients back (except seeds) into TM Bowl & combine 30 SEC / KNEADING FUNCTION
  6. Turn out the dough onto a baking paper lined tray and divide into three pieces. (Each piece will make one large tray of crackers.) With each pice…put another sheet of baking paper on top and use a rolling pin to roll out to desired thickness. (Or is that thin-ness??)
  7. Remove the top sheet of paper and sprinkle extra seeds on top. Put the paper back on and use the rolling pin to press the seeds lightly into the dough.
  8. Now it’s time to make the shapes by cutting the dough. US eh back of a table knife to lightly cut the dough to make breaking into shapes easier after cooking. 3cm squares are food, though you could be more adventurous with all sorts of other shapes if you like.
  9. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Watch them closely as the time will vary according to how thick or thin your dough is, and how crunchy and brown you like them to be. I think  crispy works best but don’t over do it as they may burn.
  10. Cool on the baking paper on a wire rack. Break into cracker-shaped pieces. Store in the cupboard in an air-tight container.

General instructions:

You could use a food processor, upright mixer, or even mix by hand.

    1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
    2. Mix eggs, chopped herbs, salt and olive oil – whisk to combine.
    3. Add remaining ingredients (except extra seeds) in bowl and ad egg mixture. Mix to combine thoroughly.
    4. Turn out the dough onto a baking paper lined tray and divide into three pieces. (Each piece will make one large tray of crackers.) With each pice…put another sheet of baking paper on top and use a rolling pin to roll out to desired thickness. (Or is that thin-ness??)
    5. Remove the top sheet of paper and sprinkle extra seeds on top. Put the paper back on and use the rolling pin to press the seeds lightly into the dough.
    6. Now it’s time to make the shapes by cutting the dough. US eh back of a table knife to lightly cut the dough to make breaking into shapes easier after cooking. 3cm squares are food, though you could be more adventurous with all sorts of other shapes if you like.
    7. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Watch them closely as the time will vary according to how thick or thin your dough is, and how crunchy and brown you like them to be. I think  crispy works best but don’t over do it as they may burn.
    8. Cool on the baking paper on a wire rack. Break into cracker-shaped pieces. Store in the cupboard in an air-tight container.
Cheese crackers cooling
Cheese crackers cooling

I know that list of instructions looks long, but don’t let it put you off. These crackers are really very easy to make and are soon worth the effort. Serve them at your next get together with friends  – they will want your  recipe!

Happy, healthy living,

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