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How to make healthier vegan, no added salt gluten-free crackers

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How can you make a healthier gluten-free cracker that has no added salt or sugar, no added oils or fats other than whatever fats come with whole seeds, and can be baked on a non-greased pan where you use sesame seeds instead of spraying the pan with oils? It's going to be a chewy cracker or more like a flat bread, but it can be made tasty and a good substitute for eating either bread or commercial-type crackers.

The basic ingredients for making gluten-free vegan, organic healthier crackers start with organic ingredients such as brown rice, garbanzo bean, or quinoa flour and flax seed meal. You mix these with organic brown sesame seeds. You add your favorite broth, such as a mirepoix of vegetable broth made of carrots, celery, and onions pureed in a blender and simmered a few minutes to bring out the flavor.

If you want more flavor, add a little apple cider vinegar to the broth you'll be using as a liquid to wet down the flours and form them into thin crackers. Those who want salty tastes can add a little low sodium tamari, if desired. Or if you don't want added salt, flavor with powdered garlic, onion, turmeric, curry, or herbs or to add more calories from fat, sprinkle a pinch of chia seeds into the mixture (for that extra omega-3 fatty acids touch), if desired.

Then you can either bake the crackers rolled out on a cookie sheet or dehydrate them

Bake at 320 degrees F. until the crackers are dry to the touch. Or dehydrate them until the wetness in the middle is gone.

Crackers can be made from seeds and carrot juice or any type of edible ground seeds and vegetable juices without using grains that you may be sensitive to. You can make crackers from chia seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, ground nuts, and various juices of your choice such as carrot or pomegranate. Sesame seed paste helps to hold the seed crackers together. And spices give the cracker a taste or tang such as curry powder, garlic, rosemary, thyme, cumin, coriander, pepper, or chili.

Those who want to add flour can use coconut flour instead of corn flour. It's your choice of what your body best responds to in a cracker that holds together

If you want to make a healthier cracker, in a dry grinder (like the VitaMix dry grinder attachment or any grain grinder) grind a cup of quinoa into flour. Then grind 1/2 cup of flax seeds into meal.

Mix the two together with 1/4 cup of sesame seeds or 2 tablespoons of tahini sauce, a little carrot juice or grated carrots, 1/4 cup of chia seeds, and 1/4 cup of oil such as extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper if you wish or garlic powder, onion powder, and turmeric or curry powder.

Roll out the dough as thin as you can make it look because it's going to be baked into a cracker. Then pat it out flat on a greased cookie sheet. Cut it into squares, and bake it a few minutes from 20 to 30 minutes or less at 350 degrees F until it's firm to the touch and golden brown. Now you have crackers, if you rolled out the dough thin enough to look like a cracker.

Who can make a healthier bread? In the Sacramento and Davis regional areas, the University of California, Davis studies how phytosterols in whole grains.

For example, see the article, [PDF] Phytosterols lower cholesterol levels in a dose-dependent manner - UC Davis CHNR. Why does it take the mainstream media so long after a new study to report health benefits? The answer to that question is that the media is looking for other scientists to speak up and say whether or not any given study is flawed.

Whole wheat bread is high in sugar, higher than some candy bars and sugary sodas, and some scientists and physicians say two slices of whole wheat bread probably will raise your blood sugar levels as high as if you were eating some popular candy bars. There's a 'controversy' about the effects of whole grains. Some people can't eat any grains at all due to sensitivities, allergies, and Celiac disease -(celiac sprue).

Others say whole grains help to rot some children's teeth. Still others ferment their whole grains, and some kids endure dental cavities just from eating whole grain cereals and sandwiches. What does the research note?

Physicians are writing articles in major consumer health publications saying that it's primarily whole wheat that creates havoc with blood glucose levels, perhaps being one more stressor behind the obesity and type 2 diabetes epidemics in all ages.

Let's take a look at what some physicians and scientists report on the 'dangers' of whole wheat

For example, two slices of whole wheat bread increase your blood sugar to a high level than sucrose--table sugar, according to the article, "Wheat, the unhealthy whole grain," in the Oct. 2011 issue of Life Extension Magazine, page 82. Too much bread or cake can raise your risk of cataracts, diabetes, and rapid aging inside and out, say some scientists and physicians.

When it comes to health, in the Sacramento and Davis area, the UC Davis studies whole grains, including rice, and scientists around the nation are researching whether whole grains can keep your blood pressure in check. Sacramento and Davis scientists may sometimes jokingly tell people to eat like a horse, meaning eat your whole grain oats.

Check the Glycemic Index Before You Shop for Favorite Foods

Just check out how high whole wheat bread is in 'sugar' or on the Glycemic Index. See "The International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2002;76(1):5-56. See the sites, Full Text - American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and Dietary glycemic index and load and risk of type 2 diabetes in older adults.

It's truly shocking. According to the Life Extension article, eating two slices of whole wheat bread is worse than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar. The original 1981 study at the University of Toronto found that the Glycemic Index of white bread was 69 and whole-grain bread was 72. Wheat cereal was 67, but table sugar (sucrose) was only 52. That means the Glycemic Index of whole grain bread is higher than that of table sugar, which is also known as sucrose.

In fact the Glycemic Index of a Mars Bar nougat, chocolate, is just 68. The Glycemic index of a Snickers bar is just 41. All those values are less than whole grain bread, especially whole wheat bread. But what you do get with the whole grain bread besides the sugar spike is some fiber that you don't get with the candy bar or the sugary soda beverage.

On another Glycemic Index chart, a Mars Bar, medium is listed at 64. It's listed under the category, "Snack Food and Sweets." But on that web site which also is about the South Beach diet, whole grain bread is listed as low on the Glycemic Index at 50, and white bread is listed high on the Glycemic Index at 71, with whole rye flour bread listed as medium at 64.

Rice cakes are listed as high on the Glycemic Index at 77, and Whole Meal Bread (not whole grain bread) is listed as medium at 69 on the Glycemic Index. But you have to remember that that Index is on the South Beach Diet Plan website. And you'd have to check out other Glycemic Index listings to see whether any match. The Glycemic Index listings seem to be different at various websites, but why, are various brands being tested or listed?

Or are various candy brands different, but the Glycemic Index, itself, remains steady. It's just that one manufacturer may make different types of candy bars under the same brand name. For example, Glycemic Index of a Mars Bar nougat, chocolate, is listed as just 68 in the Life Extension Magazine article, Oct. 2011.

Is Whole Wheat the Culprit, According to Studies In Wheat's Ability to Cause Your Body to Make More Insulin?

So, wheat seems to be the worse, according to the studies, in assaulting your body in its ability to keep making insulin. Could this be part of the cause of the diabetes and obesity epidemic in the USA and in other countries, and especially among young people? And do you fight carbs with other carbs? Or is any food high on the Glycemic Index also causing your body to secrete more insulin, aging your organs and arteries faster as your body seeks to lower the glucose levels to what's supposed to be 'normal'?

You want to watch out for advanced glycation end products called AGEs, which stiffens arteries and may lead to cataracts, clouded lenses of the eyes. See the sites, Glycemic Index Food Chart. and Glycemic index and glycemic load for 100+ foods - Harvard Health.

Check out the study, "Glycemic Index of Foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1981 Mar; 34 (3):362-6. Also see, Glycemic index of foods: a physiological basis for carbohydrate exchange.

Or read the article in the Oct 2011 issue of Life Extension magazine, "Wheat, the unhealthy whole grain," in the Oct. 2011 issue of Life Extension Magazine, page 82. Usually, it's online the following month it came out in print.

Do Whole Grains Improve Blood Pressure? Studies on whole grains and the health benefits of phytosterols

Read the published scientific study, Pins JJ, et al. "Do Whole Grain oat cereals reduce the need for antihypertensive medications and improve blood pressure control? Journal of Family Practice 51: 353-359, 2002.

For example, it took three months after a new July 2009 study on the health benefits of whole grains, especially bran in whole grains, and how whole grains help to lower hypertension, had been published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition before the mainstream media (Reuters) reported it October 7, 2009.

The Whole Grain Stamp now appears on over 3000 products in 14 countries, according to the body that issues the Stamp, the Whole Grains Council. Also see the October 10, 2009 Windsor Star article, "Whole grains may help keep blood pressure in check."

Whole grains resources

The most recent USA nutrition guidelines recommend that people get at least 3 ounces, or 85 grams, of whole grains daily, and that they consume at least half of their grains as whole grains, according to the recent Reuters article of October 7, 2009, "Whole Grains May Keep Blood Pressure in Check."

"There's evidence, the investigators note, that women who eat more whole grains are less likely to develop high blood pressure, also called hypertension, but there is less information on how whole grains might affect men's heart health," according to the Reuters article, based on a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Eating lots of whole grains could ward off high blood pressure, according to that study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. You can read the abstract of the actual study in the July 1, 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 90: 493-498, 2009, doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.27460.

The title of the research is, "Whole grains and incident hypertension in men." Although the study had been performed with only men, women can benefit also, provided that you don't have sensitivities to whole grains such as celiac disease. It doesn't matter which whole grains you eat so much. You could substitute quinoa or amaranth, oats, brown rice, or rye for wheat because wheat in some people causes a rise in insulin. But what did the study actually find?

According to the study, men with the highest whole-grain consumption were 19 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than men who ate the least amount of whole grains. But you need to know something about how to prepare whole grains so that you don't get the phytates in grain.

Phytic acid in bran

Whole grains contain phytic acid in the bran of the grain. Phytic acid combines with key minerals, especially calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, and zinc and prevents their absorption in the intestinal tract, according to the article, "The Two Stage Process: A Preparation Method Maximizing the Nutritional Value of Whole Grains."

According to Introduction to Whole Foods, page two, "Soaking, fermenting, or sprouting the grain before cooking or baking will neutralize the phytic acid, releasing nutrients for absorption. This process allows enzymes, lactobacilli and other helpful organisms to not only neutralize the phytic acid, but also to break down complex starches, irritating tannins and difficult-to-digest proteins including gluten. For many, this may lessen their sensitivity or allergic reactions to particular grains."

Soaking the grains

The healthier way to prepare whole grains, according to the article, " is to soak the whole grains or whole grain flour in an acid medium such as buttermilk, yogurt, or other cultured milk, or in water with whey, lemon juice or vinegar added. As little as 7 hours soaking will neutralize a large portion of the phytic acid in grains. Twelve to 24 hours is even better with 24 hours yielding the best results."

Basically, you can soak grains overnight in a covered jar of filtered water in your refrigerator. The grains will become soft. I soak my grains two days. The whole buckwheat becomes soft enough to eat for breakfast without cooking with heat. Just put some cherries and blueberries or dried fruit such as raisins on top of it, add a handful of chopped nuts or hulled sunflower seeds and sesame seeds, and you have a great breakfast cereal, as long as you're not sensitive to the nuts and seeds or the particular grains. Buckwheat isn't the same grain as regular whole wheat.

Usually, there's an alternative whole grain you can tolerate, with some exceptions for persons with various sensitivities or those with celiac disease who must eat gluten-free foods. Then choose the gluten-free substitutes. And there are people who can't tolerate any type of grains, or for example, the cereal grains.

Brown rice, buckwheat and millet are more easily digested because they contain lower amounts of phytates than other grains, so they may be soaked for the shorter times. According to Introduction to Whole Foods, other grains, particularly oats, "the highest in phytates of the whole grains, is best soaked up to 24 hours."

The article reports that there are two other advantages of the two-stage process. "Several hours of soaking serves to soften the grain, resulting in baked goods lighter in texture, closer to the texture of white flour

The longer the soaking, the less necessary is the baking powder. Baking soda, alone, will give enough rise. Secondly, this is a great step in convenience, dividing the task into two shorter time periods, cutting the time needed to prepare the recipe right before cooking and baking when you feel rushed to get food on the table."

The difference between whole grains and refined grains is that refining takes off the grain's outer coating. But whole grains are left with the rich nutrients, bran and germ.

If you want to make soaking grains simple and basic, just soak what you want to eat overnight in a covered jar of water in your refrigerator. The grains will do a little fermenting, and that's the result you want

Science research teams often look at the The Health Professionals Follow-Up Study on various topics. The Follow-Up Study explores men's health issues, relating nutritional factors to the incidence of serious illnesses, such as cancer, heart disease, and other vascular diseases. This all-male study is designed to complement the all-female Nurses' Health Study, which examines similar hypotheses.

For further information, see the Harvard Science article, "Eating whole grain cereals may help men lower heart failure risk." In the recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, the research team first looked at data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, which has followed 51,529 men since 1986, when the study participants were 40 to 75 years old.

Researchers viewed a subset of 31,684 men free of hypertension, cancer, stroke or heart disease at the study's outset. During 18 years of follow-up, 9,227 of them developed hypertension. Men in the top fifth of whole grain consumption, that averaged about 52 grams of whole grains daily, were 19 percent less likely than the men in the bottom fifth, who ate an average of about 3 grams of whole grains daily, to develop hypertension during follow-up.

What Did the Separate Components of Whole Grains Reveal?

When the researchers looked at separate components of whole grains, only bran showed an independent relationship with hypertension risk, with men who consumed the most at 15 percent lower risk of hypertension than men who ate the least. However, the researchers note, the amount of bran in the men's diet was relatively small compared to their total intake of whole grain and cereal fiber. See the article, "Bran, whole grains may fight high blood pressure in men."

According to the HealthDay News article, "Whole grains as a part of a prudent, balanced diet may help promote cardiovascular health," the lead researcher and project director at Harvard School of Public Health of the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, Dr. Alan J. Flint explained to the media. The latest analysis followed up previous studies that's why it's called a Follow-Up study. "Higher intake of whole grains was associated with a lower risk of hypertension in our cohort of over 31,000 men," Flint told the press.

Whole grain intake and hypertension: the relationship

The relationship between whole grain intake and hypertension risk remained even after accounting for men's fruit and vegetable intake, use of vitamins, amount of physical activity, and whether or not they were screened for high blood pressure. This suggests that the association was independent of these markers of a healthy lifestyle behavior pattern. It's possible, the researchers say, that the men that ate more whole grains gained less weight over time. The current findings, Flint and colleagues explained, "have implications for future dietary guidelines and for the prevention of hypertension."

This is not a new idea. The most recent scientific studies help to lend credibility and validity to the claims and to studies using fewer people. For years, books have touted the health benefits of whole grains. In the 2008 book, The Cholesterol Hoax, Dr. Sherry A Rogers notes on page 181, "Whole grains are actually much higher in antioxidants than fruits and vegetables."

The section, "They Forgot the Whole Grains," explains the research regarding whole grains and the effect of whole grains on reducing heart disease risk, "Folks who have diets containing daily whole grains have 26% less heart disease, 36% fewer strokes, and a 43% lower cancer rate.

In another study of 88 folks with high blood pressure, 73% of those who had two meals of whole grains a day dropped their blood pressure medications in half in addition to dropping their cholesterol and blood sugars (Pins, Jones)." Read the published scientific study, Pins JJ, et al. "Do Whole Grain oat cereals reduce the need for antihypertensive medications and improve blood pressure control? Journal of Family Practice 51: 353-359, 2002.

Healthier cracker recipe resources

Make your own gluten-free crunch multi-seed crackers using flax, quinoa seeds, and amaranth seeds. You don't have to add fat to your cracker batter recipe. And many homemade flaxseed cracker recipes are online.

See sites such as, Organic Quinoa Seed- 35 Lbs - Quinoa Grain Seeds - For Flour, Bread, Baking, Cooking, Food Storage, Sprouting Sprouts, Cereal) amaranth seeds, (see, Organic Amaranth Seeds- 1 Lbs- Grain Seed for Sprouting Sprouts, Cooking, Grinding For Flour, Soup, Food Storage & More by Handy Pantry, brown rice flour, sesame seeds, potato starch, tamari sauce, and any flavoring you choose from curry and Parmesan to corn or turkey stuffing spices such as thyme or pepper.

There are recipes online varying from the no-bake type raw flax seed cracker recipe where you use your dehydrator (see, Raw Flax Crackers Recipe - Flax Seed Crackers - Raw Flaxseed, to Super-Yummy Italian Flax Cracker Recipe - Karen Knowler. Or check out the site, Flaxseed Crackers Recipe - Raw Vegan Hummus Recipe.

Look at the YouTube video which demonstrates how to make flax seed cracker, Karen Knowler, The Raw Food Coach: Flax Crackers - YouTube. Raw flax seed crackers are a popular snack for those on raw food diet. Even if you're just looking to include more flax seed in your diet or more raw foods, try this dehydrated flaxseed cracker recipe for a satisfying crunch. Flaxseed crackers are great with raw salsa, raw guacamole or raw hummus (pictured).

If you're on a no-salt added diet and can't find crackers in food markets made with no added salt or the fats or oils you don't want in your crackers, leave out the salt and use onion powder or garlic powder instead of salt. Or use turmeric and black pepper with or without curry powder.

The basic recipes for no-bake flax seed crackers uses two cups of flaxseeds and 2 cups of water. You can season with your own spices or use 1/4 cup of liquid aminos or raw soy sauce. You can even buy low sodium soy sauce. Basically what you're doing is adding flaxseeds to water with minced herbs of your choice. Try dill or thyme or oregano and dried parsley.

To make no-bake flax seed crackers, you dehydrate after you soak the flax seeds in water, then you dehydrate them and add your flavorings, from chili powder and/or cayenne pepper to ginger or lime juice. The recipe is at the site, Raw Flax Crackers Recipe - Flax Seed Crackers - Raw Flaxseed.

If you dehydrate instead of bake, it takes up to 6 hours. You have to turn the mixture over and dehydrate the underside of the cracker. Check out the recipes online either for the no-bake type of raw flax seeds which are soaked and then dehydrated. Or look at the bake type where you bake the seeds in your oven. Use the flax seed crackers as a dip with avocado, salsa, hummus, or other raw foods.

For further flax seed cracker recipes see the websites, flax seed cracker recipe Recipes at Epicurious.com, Flax Seed Cracker Recipe, and Your Lighter Side: Flax cracker recipe. For example, at the Your Lighter Side: Flax cracker recipe site, you grind your flax seeds into meal into flax seed meal in a dry grinder or you just buy in a health food store flax seed meal that comes in a package, like flour. The you just mix two tablespoons of flax seed meal with 2 tablespoons of water. You spice the mixture with your favorite spices.

You could also add to the mixture before baking a tablespoon of coconut flour or brown rice flour or potato starch or quinoa flour or amaranth flour or garbanzo bean flour to extend the batter and thicken it if you wanted to use more than seeds for your crackers. Or you can follow any of the recipes online for flaxseed crackers.

For a crunchy crisp cracker instead of a chewy cracker, you'd use more seeds instead of flour. But if your seeds aren't holding together, you can add a little flour, a tablespoon or less, but not too much to turn your cracker into savory flat bread

Then you mix the flax seed meal with water and spices in a bowl for a few minutes. Let the batter rest for up to five minutes. The recipe says two to three minutes. Shape the crackers to the sizes you want, for example, two inches around or square. Then you bake the mixture on a sheet of parchment paper.

The recipe says to microwave for 2.5 minutes or until solid.You don't need to add any fat or oil to the recipe. You can use nonstick baking sheets or spray a small amount of oil on a cookie sheet or bake on parchment paper without adding lots of grease or fats to the cracker to bake crunchy. The flax seeds and other added seeds such as quinoa seeds, sesame seeds, or amaranth seeds have their own oils.

For people without microwaves, bake in the oven at 320 degrees F. for a few minutes. Sometimes it takes up to 20 minutes, but usually less, like 10-15 minutes, or until the cracker is solid to the touch, but not burnt, too hard, or too crisp. Too-crisp crackers cut the gums.

After the crackers cool, you can use them as a dipping cracker or to eat other food with. Then bag the crackers and store in your refrigerator. Health food stores sell flax seed meal, such as Bob's Red Mill Whole Ground Flax Seed.

According to the recipe at the Your Lighter Side: Flax cracker recipe site, a serving Size: 2 Tbsp, Calories: 60, Fat: 4.5g, Carbs: 4g, Protein: 3g. And Whole Ground Flax Seed Meal (Bobs Red Mill), according to the recipe notes, serving Size: 2 Tbsp, Calories: 60, Fat: 4.5g, Carbs: 4g, Protein: 3g.

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