I spend many of my weekends working a part-time job at a public library. A few weekends ago, I was chatting with one of my colleagues about food, specifically unprocessed food, and she suggested I check out The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. The cover features homemade pop-tarts, so, basically, I was sold the minute I pulled it off the shelf. Paging through, I found dozens of wonderful recipes, including one of my major vices: cheese crackers. It probably goes without saying that I’ve maxed out my renewals on this puppy.
I’ve mentioned before that over the last two years our household has been making a conscious effort to cut out as many processed foods as we can, but for some reason when it comes to snacking, we still find ourselves trolling the boxed and bagged aisles of the co-op. Sure, those foods are organic, maybe they’re whole wheat, and they’re probably even lacking some of the conventional nasties like High Fructose Corn Syrup, but that’s still junk food, right?
Recently, I came across Michael Pollan’s rule #45: “Eat All the Junk Food You Want as Long as You Cook It Yourself.” Um, duh? Why didn’t I think of this myself? I love french fries and could easily eat them 7 days a week, but am I willing to make them myself 7 days a week? Absolutely not.
I knew immediately that Alana’s Cheese Cracker recipe would be a great way to quell my unyielding desire for cheese crackers, while still following Rule #45, but I decided to take it one step further. When you’re craving junk, what’s even better (worse?) than those fancy organic whole wheat cheese crackers from Whole Foods? Cheez-Its. I don’t know how long it has been since I’ve had real Cheez-Its, but when I saw Alana’s recipe, I knew that’s where I had to take it.
I followed the directions exactly as they are written in Alana’s book, but modified the ingredients slightly to include whole wheat flour and some additional spices. I also used a pastry wheel to give them that classic Cheez-It shape, and sprinkled them with a little sea salt before baking. The end result are crackers that still taste like junk food, but with zero preservatives and a super short ingredients list made up of real food! It should also be noted that these won’t be as flaky as many of the crackers you’ll buy at the supermarket, but that makes them perfect for topping with even more cheese or dipping in hummus.
Honestly though, I’m just glad these are a little more work than opening a box, or I might find myself making them several times a week….