Posts tagged crackers
My Rawgust Experience... and Raw Avo & Tomato 'Toast'

'Rawgust' is over and we are rolling swiftly into September!

I thought I'd take a moment on this sunny Sunday morning to reflect on a few thoughts of my 'raw food' experience. As I mentioned in my previous post I didn't maintain a 100% raw diet, it was more like 85% as my view was to see it as an exploration and open my mind to new recipes and ideas, rather than a restriction which I may have felt had I been super strict.

>>> NOTE: see my previous post for tips and meal inspiration

This decision to go 'high raw' rather than fully raw was partly based on the fact I had a few family commitments and events I knew I would be attending which would have made life difficult. I decided that a 'high raw diet' would allow me to appreciate most of the benefits and enable me to broaden my raw food repertoire without it feeling pressured or frustrated.

Overall I really enjoyed the month, initially I did miss big hot bowls of porridge (yes, I still eat porridge in the summertime!) and I really missed beans and lentils- such a staple in my everyday diet.

That being said, I really threw myself into creating some amazing salads and lots of raw dressings and dips to go with them. For me, a good dressing can turn any salad from average to amazing :-) 

This is definitely something I'll be continuing, as I'd like to aim for at least 50% raw ongoing- basically, i'll be incorporating a smoothie and a big salad every day- pretty easy, right!

I'll post a recipe round up of loads of sauces, dressing and dips from my vegan community in a separate post- hopefully, there'll be lots to inspire you too!

My boyfriend, who took the challenge along with me- who also reminded me that it was his idea in the first place (credit where it's due!!) has, for the time being, decided to maintain a 75-80% raw diet, so we'll still be eating a lot of raw meals together. 

My downfall (if anything) was eating too many Bliss Balls, ha ha. I often get carried away anyway when I make them, but during Rawgust I fell into the trap of having even more excuse to indulge.

Bliss balls... soooo tempting!!

Bliss balls... soooo tempting!!

Many people I know who eat raw, typically follow a high-fruit diet. This is something I have never felt really suits me. When I've experimented with an 801010 (80% carbs, 10% fat 10% protein) style diet in the past I ended up feeling incredibly bloated with the ratio of fruit. I feel I need to incorporate more fats. Maybe that was why one of my favourite meals last month was avocado and tomato on dehydrated flax crackers.

That said, my digestion was, for the most part, really great this last month, even though I have had some tough personal challenges to content with (stress usually impacts my bowels- sorry TMI!) My tummy felt flat and I have lost a little weight. Maybe that's down to the lack of legumes and/or grains... who knows? It will be interesting to see what happens as I add them back.

I'm also not convinced that a fully raw diet is particularly suited to our UK climate during the colder winter months. I know the idea of a nourishing warm meal really soothes me and the abundance root vegetables help ground me. I wouldn't want to forgo soups and stews indefinitely regardless of any nutritional science. 

I know there are ways to create 'warmth' in the body whilst consuming raw foods by using ginger and other warming spices to 'fire up' the body, but nothing compares to a big bowl of soup in my opinion! :-) 

I also query the environmental angle. I like the idea of aiming to eat more seasonally and locally, (although i'll make it clear I'm not perfect at this by any means), so feasting on tropical fruits shipped from far overseas during our cold winter months, doesn't quite sit right with me. I want to enjoy our abundance of winter vegetable roots and brassicas from the ground during this time.

One final point of interest... I was scanning through all my old health and wellness magazines, as part of my declutter ahead of moving house in a couple of weeks and I found various articles on Ayurveda. I am definitely a Vata Dosha and interestingly one of the things it advised 'Vata's' against was to consume raw foods... how interesting!

I have not looked deeply into the reasoning behind this (but now I am curious to know more), but it did remind me that there is never a 'one size fits all approach' when it comes to food, and that we all need to be intuitive eaters when it comes to what we feel our bodies need.  

As an example, I would never directly advise others to eat animal products BUT I do appreciate that we each need to find out own way and tune into what really works for us away from societies expectation and the pressure from the media and those around us.

Most of all, I believe we need to become more curious, more self-aware, more confident and relaxed around food.

Short terms 'Detoxes' and Challenges' (such as Rawgust) create the perfect opportunity for shaking things up, trying new things, re-setting our bodies systems, checking in with any symptoms that might be showing up and reflecting on what we really need deep down.

To break the pattern of the autopilot mode that so many of us function on day to day when it comes to food and lifestyle.

So on that note, I am going to leave you with the recipe for my favourite avocado and tomato salad on raw flax crackers.... ridiculously simple, and definitely one I'll keep on weekly repeat.

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I'd love to continue this conversation...

Have you tried a raw diet? Maybe you loosely follow a raw-till-4 approach? Or something else... I'd love to hear your own thoughts, experiences and results. 


Recipe: Raw Avo & Tomato 'Toast'

Ingredients:

  • 1 avocado

  • A large handful of cherry tomatoes

  • Dehydrated flax crackers (quantity to suit appetite!)

  • Fresh basil

  • Salt and pepper

  • Sprinkle of nutritional yeast (optional)

  • Salad leaves (optional)

Flax Cracker Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds, soaked overnight

  • 1 cup walnuts, soaked overnight

  • 1 stick of celery, roughly chopped

  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped

  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil (including the oil)

  • 1 tsp Himalayan salt

  • 1-2 tsp mixed dried herbs (or other herbs/spices to suit)

  • a few tbs water to create the right consistency (add gradually)

Method for the flax crackers:

Blitz all ingredients together in a food processor, until thick and sticky, adding a little water add needed (I used approx 1/3 of a cup)

Spread the mix to a 0.5 cm thickness over teflex dehydrator sheets. 

Dehydrate at 45C for approx 10 hours, turn over and place onto mesh sheets and return to the dehydrator for another 4 hours. 

Cut into any desired slices. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. 

Method for the avo 'toast':

There is no real method.... just assemble everything on top of the crackers!

You can slice your flax bread/crackers into larger 'bread style' squares but because I make mine in a large batch I had pre-cut them into small squares for versatility. Either is fine.

NOTE: I originally made a version of this style of raw bread/cracker HERE. At that time I also tried a second batch and spread it out on a lined baking sheet at 'baked' it for approximately two hours on my lowest oven temperature (approx. 80ºC). I covered it loosely with foil after 1 hour to ensure the most even cook. It worked well so it's an option to try if you don't have access to a dehydrator.

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Nutty keto crackers... pack in the protein!

When it comes to following a vegan ketogenic diet, I have found one of the easier way to keep on top of things without having to specifically track every macro to the last detail is to focus on packing in the veggies in my main meals and make up most of my protein needs through snacks in between. The hemp porridge is a great boost in this respect but handfuls of nuts and seeds (and spoonfuls of nut butter!!) also factor in pretty heavily.

These crackers are virtually the same as eating a handful of nuts and seeds but a lot more interesting with the flavours and texture. I would serve these up alongside a big salad, or just nibble on their own with a slather of PB or almond butter. The pictures show hummus which isn't really so keto friendly :-)

I use a dehydrator for maximum nutrition (no heat destroying nutrients) but you could use an oven on the lowest hear setting- just keep an eye on the timings as I haven't tried it that way.I always soak the nuts when I make crackers, this makes the nutrients much more bio-available to the body as in the nature nuts have enzyme inhibitors which make them harder to digest- soaking them breaks this down. You don't need to soak the hemp seeds. 

I haven't added any extra spices to the recipe below as you can leave plain or add your own... I love chipotle pepper sauce, or soy sauce instead of salt. Italian herbs would work well too.

These crackers freeze well so I tend to make a double (or triple) batch, and sometimes divide the mixture before mixing in different spices.

Recipe: Nutty keto crackers

Makes approx. 15-20 crackers

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup each 3 types soaked nuts/seeds (I used shelled hemp, almonds* and sunflower seeds)
  • 1 small tomato (or 2-3 cherry tomatoes)
  • ½ an onion
  • 2 tbs flax seed
  • scant 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Method:

Process all ingredients together until you have a sticky, lightly chunky mix.

Spread the mixture on to a lined dehydrator tray and smooth to approx 3mm thick as evenly as possible.

Dehydrate for 2 hours at 50C then 6 hours at 40C. Flip the sheet carefully and finish with 1 hour at 40C. Or try oven baking on the lowest temperature for approx 1 hour (maybe more?) To keep the temperature low you could leave the door open a crack.

Slice to serve. The crackers may be a little crumbly depending on how finely you've ground the nuts.

* walnuts are also especially good too.... but for this recipe version I was looking for the highest protein and lowest carb option so opted for almonds. Sunflower seeds could be swapped for pumpkin or another lower carb option, but I happened to have sunflower to hand at time time!

These were some similar crackers using almond, sunflower, sesame and chia.

These were some similar crackers using almond, sunflower, sesame and chia.

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Seeded spelt crackers

I've had crackers on the mind in recent weeks, partly because i've been experimenting with my dehydrator (they'll be a cookie recipe on its way to you very soon!) and dehydrator crackers have been fun to test out.  But even thought these crackers are obviously not made in the dehydrator they still popped up in my head one day when doing some recipe brainstorming.

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These crackers use spelt so are not gluten free, though they are wheat free. I enjoy using spelt as it has so many similar characteristics to regular wheat flour but without the common associated sensitivities. I also loved how flaky these crackers were with the addition of coconut oil, you'll see in the note below that I tried a peanut version which just didn't have the same flakiness at all!

You can use any seeds you fancy, but i will note that smaller seeds are easier to cut/slice though compared to larger seeds! Just saying ;-)

Perfect with a dollop of hummus or how about this raw red pepper ranch dip.... There are more dips and recipes on this page and i reckon you could easily turn these crackers into a sweet variety with a touch of syrup and a little cinnamon. Hmmm, might have to try that out myself!

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Recipe: Seeded spelt crackers

Makes approx 30-40 crackers 

Ingredients:  

  • 200g spelt flour (1 1/2) cups
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 50g coconut oil (1/4 cup)
  • 50g water (1/4 cup)
  • 60g seeds (e.g 2tbs each of 3 types)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Salt and pepper and other spices to taste
  • Glaze (optional) soy yoghurt*

Method: 

Mix the spices and baking soda into the flour in a large bowl.

Mix the coconut oil into the flour until it resembles bread crumbs and then add the water slowly until a firm and slightly sticky dough forms. You can add the seeds add the same time as the water or roll them onto the dough afterwards as preferred.

Roll the dough onto 2 parchment lined baking sheets until approx 3-4mm thick. Slice or cut the dough into squares or shapes.

Bake at 180C for approx 15 minutes or until golden and ‘hollow’ sounding when tapped.

*I used a pastry brush to add a layer of soy yoghurt as a glaze, but this is optional or you could use non dairy milk or a light oil in a similar way.

Note: I also tried this with peanut butter instead of coconut oil and it wasn’t as light and flaky.

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Dip ya bones!!

It's very nearly halloween...and this is my second seasonal post! Look at me go, this must be a first.

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It nearly didn't happen as this dip had originally been planned as a 'monster mash' of sorts  after I was inspired by this recipe by the PPK and wanted to create my own.  I tried a couple of different ingredient combinations but it just wasn't holding up the way I wanted to. I was so close to scrapping the whole thing BUT it tasted good and i didn't want to waste my efforts before binning it so I thought i'd spread a bit on some raw veggie sticks and crackers...and then it was suddenly obvious. I had made a yummy dip!

Happy times after all :-) 

The first time I made this I used sweet potato and kale, then the second time I made it with cauliflower and kale. Both work well and you can sub roughly the same quantities for each. The photos show the cauli version and so that is what i have based the recipe below on.

If you not a fan of kale... you could go for this bean and pea dip, even quicker to whip up! 

I think my main mistake in failing in the monster mash was not allowing the veg to drain and dry well enough- particularly the cauli version. If you want to try and make some little monsters, be sure to pat the veg dry before blending, then try piping it through a large piping nozzle and decorating.  If it fails...well, you have a fab dip ;-) 

Oh... a quick note on the crackers! I made a 'human' variation of this peanut butter dog cracker recipe still using the spelt flour and ingredients as noted but adding extra salt, spices and some nutritional yeast to taste. You could also use this gluten free cracker recipe which I think would also work really well. Use a bone cutter for the ultimate effect!! :-)

Last but not least!  Let me welcome my little monster friend to you all. I carved him this morning to sit at the reception desk of the wellness centre where I work. I know I should have been studying but sometime other things take priority... and I got a little carried away. We've been playing a 'name the monster'  game over on my Instagram and Facebook pages, so why not join in! What should we call him (or her).....?

 

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Recipe: Halloween dip (1 large dip or 4 small monsters)

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups chopped packed kale
  • 2 cups finely chopped cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbs cashew or almond butter
  • salt and pepper (plus other spices if desired) to taste

Method: 

Cook the kale and cauliflower for approx. 8 minutes unit cooked (steam to retain nutrients). Drain (see note) and add remaining ingredients to the pan. Blend with a hand blender or transfer to a small blender and blend until creamy and green!

Best served immediately whilst hot with raw veggies or crackers or decorate as desired. 

bone dip 1.jpg
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Crispy polenta crackers

I found myself in a polenta frame of mind this morning, triggered by this chocolate shortbread, of which there is now a gluten free version…recipe coming soon! It had been so so long since I’d made that shortbread, and I’d forgotten has delicately crisp and crumbly it was.

Anyway back to the polenta. There it sat in it packet on the kitchen worktop, waiting to be buried back inside my baking box, until another recipe then popped into my mind. Another recipe I’d first tried out months and months ago, and I seem to remember at the time the Boy had said, ‘Mmmm, this tastes like pork crackling’!

Er, well I didn’t think it tasted like crackling so don’t worry. But I do understand what he meant…these crackers are super duper crispy, you’d think they’d been deep fried to get that intense crunch, but nope they are simply baked.

The healthy way to a dipping chip!

The key is to slice the polenta as thinly as possible and then bake the slices on a lower heat for longer, and then double bake for extra crispiness. You can mix up the seasonings however you wish. I went for a slightly Mexican theme as I teamed these with my veggie chilli.

Recipe: Crispy Polenta Crackers

Makes one bowlful

Ingredients

  • ½  cup instant polenta
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp cajun spice mix (chilli, garlic etc)
  • ¼ tsp salt

Method

In a sauce pan mix polenta with water, add remaining ingredients and simmer for approx. 5 minutes stirring continuously until mixture begins to thicken but is still pourable.

Pour/spoon into a small loaf tin, smoothing the top as much as possible and allow to set then firm up in the fridge.

Once set firmly, remove the polenta loaf from the tin and using a sharp knife slice as thinly as possible, laying each slice on a greased/lined baking sheet

Bake at 150C for approx. 20-30 mins depending on the thickness of the slices. If the slices are not yet crispy in the centre but the edges are done, allow to cool and then re-bake for a further 10 minutes or as long as necessary.

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Cheezy vegan crackerbread

Recently I’ve been testing out some new ingredients courtesy of Real Food Sourceand this little recipe was a great way to do so.

The main ‘new thing’ for me is red palm oil, there are loads of links to shops and resources out there, but for further reading I came across this article. Red palm oil has a very strong deep yellow/orange colour and a distinctive savoury taste that’s hard to describe, I would suggest using this for savoury foods instead of sweet unless you have a very strong dominant sweet flavour such a chocolate or spices. It can be used in place of coconut (or other oils of choice) and has amazing health properties in part due to its rich red hue which is rich in carotenes.

I really wanted to exploit its colour and so a ‘cheezy’ recipe seemed the obvious answer. Teamed up with nutritional yeast and some spices… these little dipping crackers have a lovely mild and nutty cheesy flavour, perfect served with a dip, relish or chutney. I also went one step further and made a cheezy roll using  a combination of salsa, sundried tomatoes and fresh and dried herbs spread across the rolled out dough, and the wrapped this up into a roll. If you do this be careful as the dough is quite fragile and will also expand as it cooks so it is likely to will get cracks across the surface of the roll. The sundried tomatoes tasted amazing in this combination so you may like to simple roll some chopped sundried tomatoes onto the surface of the dough, score into slices and then bake as slices instead of rolling it up.

As you can see from the photos, these crackers are soft and more like a dense bread slice than crisp crackers. I have used coarse coconut flour here, but regular coconut flour (or other  GF grains) should work although it may alter the texture, I haven’t tried this. You could also sub part polenta meal if using regular coconut flour as this should assist with creating a grainy texture if desired. The recipe itself is ideal as a basis for experimenting with alternative types of flour and oils. If you give it a go let me know how you get on.

Recipe: Cheezy crackerbread

Makes approx. 7 strips (or double the recipe and roll into a pinwheel)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup coarse coconut flour
  • ¼ cup fine almond flour
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 3tbs nutritional yeast
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • Pinch garlic powder
  • Pinch mustard powder
  • 2 tbs red palm oil- melted
  • 2 tbs ground chia plus 5 tbs hot water
  • 1 tbs sesame seeds (optional)

Method

Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl then add the wet ingredients and mix well to form a dough. The dough should be neither too crumbly nor too sticky to roll out on a piece of baking parchment. The dough may crack as it is rolled, but just aim to get as even a sheet as possible.

Slice the rolled dough into inch thick strips and bake at 180C for approx. 10 mins until golden at the edges. Allow to cool before serving.

Great served with a dip, relish or chutney.

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Bitter chocolate thins

Following the cracker success I posted yesterday, I had a mini eureka moment when I figured that I could translate the thin and crispy nature of the cracker into a semi-sweet chocolate biscuit that didn’t used processed ingredients but still retained it’s crispness…magic!

The ‘Bitter Chocolate Thins’ were born.

Being semi-sweet they are very moreish and don’t feel too naughty at all! You can easily increase the sweetness a tad if you prefer, but I love this way…oh and wait till you see what else then happened!

If that wasn’t enough…it all got a little bit crazy and somehow a dollop of thick and creamy chocolate frosting made its way in between two chocolate thins. Thus, Chocolate Creams were born. These are even gluten free. Seriously good, just wait for the moment that the crisp chocolate biscuit crust cracks as you bite through it, so that the sweet soft and creamy chocolate frosting fills your mouth. The perfect combo!

Recipe: Bitter chocolate thins

Makes approx. 20 biscuits

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds (if making your own do not over process the nuts so that oils are released)
  • 2 tbs cocoa powder
  • 2 tbs tapioca flour
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbs cacoa nibs or dark chocolate chunks- quite finely ground
  • 1 tbs water
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2tbs agave nectar plus ¼ tsp stevia (extra if extra sweetness is desired)
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Method

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix well with spoon. Knead dough with hands until it comes together. Place ball of dough on parchment paper or a non-stick mat. Roll out dough until it’s about 1/8th inch thick, or as thin as you can get it without tearing. With a sharp knife, score into squares.

Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with parchment. Bake for approx. 15 minutes until just beginning to brown at the edges. Cool on baking sheet, then store in air-tight container once fully cool.  

Note- these biscuits took less time to cook than the original crackers that inspired this recipe. I also found that it was very easy to burn the squares around the edge so watch out.


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Speedy Seedy Gluten-Free Crackers

I love to have something on hand to pick at… whether it be my home made ‘nakd’ bars or a bowl of chocolate frosting hiding away in the fridge waiting for a spoon to come a-dipping! But, sometimes  I just fancy a savoury kick to keep me going till tea time (particularly if I know there is dessert not far away). 

These crackers are perfect…. on their own, with this dipor a dollop of nut butter. The inspiration came from this post on Oh She Glows, so simple and quick to make and so many possible variations of flours, seeds and herbs to investigate now I know how good these crackers are.

The essence of the recipe also inspired an alternative twist that I just couldn’t wait to test out…but more on that tomorrow!

Recipe: Speedy seedy crackers

Makes approx. 20 crackers

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds (if making your own do not over process so that oils are released)
  • 2 tbs tapioca flour
  • 2 tbs polenta (this just gives it extra crunchiness)
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp Italian herbs
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate soda
  • 2 tbs sesame seeds
  • 2 tbs poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp olive oil

Method

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients and mix well with a spoon. Knead dough with hands until it comes together. Place ball of dough on parchment paper or a non-stick mat. Roll out dough until it’s about 1/8th inch thick, or as thin as you can get it without ripping. With a  sharp knife slice into squares.

Preheat oven to 180C and line a baking sheet with parchment. Bake for 18-20 minutes until slightly golden in colour. Cool on baking sheet, then store in air-tight container once fully cool.


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