Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tasty Grain-Free Almond Meal Cheese Crackers

I have gone grain-free. Grain. Free. Why, oh, why would I do that to myself? Well, in short, I'm not healthy yet. I'm not totally recovered from my standing-too-close-to-the-Grimm-Reaper experience a couple years back. Going gluten-free helped... I was able to do some work, and limited socializing, but I'm not all the way back to me yet. Frankly, that sucks. So, willing to do anything that's fairly low risk, and after reading a bunch on cross-contamination and cross-reactivity, I decided to give it a shot. It's only been two weeks, but I already have more energy and am sleeping better. My appetite is more normal, too. The side-effect is that I think about food. A lot. Especially the new list of things I can't have! I'd finally adjusted, and now this?

There's good news though! Shopping is easier! There is very little label reading, because I'm not buying many things in packages. The other thing? I love the internet. I mean, seriously... we can share ideas and successes and failures. And, of course -- ingredients and recipes. I've gotten a ton of inspiration from the Paleo/Caveman Diet people and the Raw Foodists. I've found some wonderful and naturally gluten-free ideas from those communities!

So, these little crackers were such a welcome addition to my grain-free world. I was amazed how much they look like Wh*** Thins (bad word!), and how much better (and more versatile) they are! Last night, I toasted them and make mini-pizzas. But that's a story for another time.

Let's talk about almonds and almond meal for a moment. This is one of the areas that the world hasn't quite come to an agreement on. For our purposes, however, some definitions:

Almond Meal: A more coarse version of almond flour that generally keeps the skins on the almonds
Almond Flour: Made from either blanched ground almonds or fine powdery remnants of cutting almonds.

Both types can be purchased, and not all brands are equal. Bob's Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour is rather coarse while Honeyville Blanched Almond Meal Flour is a much finer flour.

Whatever you get, store it in the freezer. All of the yummy nut oils can go rancid, so unless you're using it fairly quickly, keep it sealed up and cold. It's a good idea to let it warm to room temperature before baking with it. If you use it frequently, store a week's worth in your pantry.

For this recipe, I prefer a coarser Almond Meal. And, if you're feeling spunky, you can make your own (it's truly not that hard, and I love the fresh taste). I buy raw almonds from my local farmers' market.

Homemade Almond Meal

Place raw almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet or pie pan
Roast in the oven at 375° for 7-9 minutes

Almonds are done when they are fragrant and slightly less soft. They will become more crisp as they cool. The inside should just be starting to change to a more golden color. If they turn brown, they will taste burnt or toasty. Don't throw those away... chop them up and serve them on ice-cream!

Remove from pan (almonds will keep cooking slightly)
Allow to cool before processing (I make a big batch to snack on days in advance)
Pulse almonds in the food processor until they are a rough meal. If it starts to turn into almond butter, you've gone too far!

Tasty Grain-Free Almond Meal Cheese Crackers

1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup grated cheese (I prefer Sharp Cheddar)
1 egg white
Salt to taste (1/4 tsp or so)
Baking Soda (optional - I put in about 1/6 tsp)

Pre-heat oven to 350°
Cut two pieces of parchment paper the size of a cookie sheet (the parchment is important!)

Mix almond meal, cheese, salt and baking soda thoroughly. I pulse it in the food processor for fast and easy mixing.
Add egg white and mix thoroughly. This will turn it into dough.
Place dough between the two sheets of parchment and roll thin. Try to cover as much of the baking sheet as possible - rolling dough very thin. Thin = crispy!
Cut to desired cracker size (1-2 inch squares) with a pizza cutter

Bake at 350 for 10-13 minutes. It should be brown around the edges.
Cool and enjoy!

Roasted Almonds

Rolling out the dough

Cut before cooking

I stayed up late snacking on these crackers and deciding my next use for them. I think next time I'll add garlic and herbs. Mmmm. Enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment