Homemade Graham Crackers…

… Also known as “The Most Delicious Snack Ever”.

Yesterday, Ava came to me asking for crackers.  We were fresh out.  Zero.  Zilch.  None.  Not even something I could pass off as a cracker.  I had zero interest in walking (or driving) to the grocery store, only to buy processed junk crackers.

Homemade crackers it is!

I remembered that I picked up a book at the library.  This was actually the second time I check this book out.  That rarely happens.  I actually love this book so much, I think I’m going to buy a copy.  I very rarely buy books because I’m such a fan of borrowing them from the library.  The book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making, is  so overly useful.  I’m in love!

The Homemade Pantry

Anyway… so off we went, making homemade graham crackers.  I try to be very patient when cooking with Ava.  I let her scoop, pour, and stir.  She loves to help.  Even though it is completely unimportant at her age, we talk all about the measurements and each ingredient as we add them.  She touches the flour and smells the cinnamon.

Cooking with Toddlers

The dough for these crackers needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.  This perfectly fell during nap time.  When she woke up, I had just pulled the first batch of warm crackers from the oven.  She was beyond excited.  These little gems of cinnamon-sugar are too good not to share.  Next time (which will be soon), I think I will use some fun cookie cutters!

Homemade Graham Crackers copy

Whole Wheat Graham Crackers | Adapted from The Homemade Pantry

Makes 45-50 2×3 inch crackers

  • 1 Cup White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 3/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Rye Flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 TSP Salt
  • 1/4 TSP Baking Soda
  • 1/2 TSP Baking Powder
  • 1-1/2 TSP Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 Cup Packed Dark Brown Sugar (Make your own with raw sugar and molasses!)
  • 3 TBSP Cold Butter, cut into small cubes
  • 4 TBSP Coconut Butter
  • 4 TBSP Honey (Local, if you can find it!)
  • 2 TSP Vanilla Extract
  • 1 TSP Raw Sugar
  1. Combine the flours with the salt, baking soda, baking powder, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the brown sugar.  Mix well.  Add the butter and the shortening and mix until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine the honey and vanilla with 1/4 cup of cold water.  Stir until the honey is dissolved.  Slowly add the honey mixture to the flour mixture.  Form the dough into a bowl and wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and up to 3 days.  (She says you can freeze it at this point.)
  3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator 20 minutes before baking.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Cut the dough in half and roll one half on a dusted surface (or between waxed paper).  Roll the dough as thin as possible, about 1/8 inch.  Cut your crackers into 2×3″ rectangles (or use cookie cutters!).  Place on a baking sheet using a spatula.  They won’t spread, so they can be very close.  Reroll the scraps and repeat until all of the dough is rolled.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with the 1 teaspoon sugar.  Sprinkle the crackers with the cinnamon-sugar and prick the dough several times with a fork.  Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges are just starting to brown (about 12 minutes in my oven).  Remove from the oven and cool.

Graham Crackers From The Homemade Pantry

These crackers are incredible good.  Nothing beats homemade!  Enjoy!

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Reader Q&A: How Do I Get My Family To Eat Healthy?

How do I get my family to eat healthy?

Reader Melissa A. sent me an email asking a question that I think most mothers and wives face: How do I get my family to eat healthy?  See what she had to say.

I am on a path to start eating clean but I am having trouble getting my husband and children on board. 

My children are 2 and 3 and would not eat/throw a tantrum for hours if they don’t get their standard terrible toddler food (hot dogs, crackers, tons of sugar loaded processed foods).   I’ve actually tried for over a year to correct their menu just to throw it away in the trash every time.  Since I’m the grocery shopper in the house I have tried to reduce their intake where I can, improving the amounts they receive. 

Our biggest challenge is that my husband feeds them 5 out of 7 dinners as I work an hour away.  He’s not much of a cook/leftovers guy so they almost always eat Take and bake pizza or corn dog nuggets on a daily basis. 

Any words of wisdom?

Thanks so much,
Melissa A.

I know exactly how you feel.  While Ava has always had fairly good eating habits, Tony has not.  My husband had what I considered to be the “typical American diet”.  He is a lover of  meat, fried things, and anything containing the ingredient “partially hydrogenated oil”.

When I started this clean eating journey, he thought I was totally nuts.  He didn’t understand why I didn’t want to eat meat, or that I didn’t want our daughter eating Doritos.  I continued to do what I knew was right.

Tony’s eating habits are changing.

If you ask him, he may still tell you that my eating habits are a little strange, but I know he hears what I’m saying.  I realized that I had gotten through to him when I heard through the grapevine that he got on to someone who was trying to give our daughter excessive amounts of candy.  He explained to the person that we (yes, he said WE!) choose not to give junk like that to Ava and even though I wasn’t there, we stand together (together!!!) on our decision.  He was listening all along!  He made me proud!

So what did I do to get through to him?

In the beginning, I led by example.  I knew he would never just jump on board.  Like most men (sorry guys), I needed to let him decide that it was his idea.  Even though he thought it was all crazy, I ate healthy.  I also explained to him why I was eating the way I was.  Once the weight started falling off, I think he started to notice that it wasn’t a bunch of nonsensical hippie talk.   What I was doing made perfect sense, and he noticed!

I wasn’t above trickery.

I admit it, I tricked my family more than a few times.  (And I still do!)  I got crafty with the whole wheat and whole grains.  I learned how to add veggies into meals so that they wouldn’t  notice.

Don’t fight against them.

Although Ava is a fairly good eater, I know a little girl who sounds just like Melissa’s kids.  She only eats chicken nuggets (frozen or from McDonald’s), cookies, and a few other unhealthy items.  Her parents continued to feed her these things for fear of her being hungry.  Start by offering your children healthy options along with their favorites.  Slowly (over a few weeks) remove the unhealthy options from their diet.  They will probably protest, but if they are truly hungry, they will eat the healthy options.  If they won’t eat the healthy foods, set them aside for later when they are hungry again.  When they are hungry, they will eat.

Get your children involved!

Children who help grow or prepare their meals are more likely to try new things.  Start a small garden and let them grow new veggies to try.  Invite them into the kitchen.  Not only will your child be more likely to try new foods, but you will be bonding with them and building their self-esteem.

Prep your meals.

If you are not the one who cooks most of the meals, prep easy and healthy meals ahead of time.  Here I talked about prep being one of the three “P’s”.  If you can’t be home to cook a healthy meal, try doing once-a-month cooking.  Make and freeze healthy, clean meals that your spouse or kids can heat up.  If it’s just as easy as a frozen pizza, they just might cook it.

Getting your family to eat clean (or just somewhat healthy for that matter) is not going to happen over night.  Just remember to stay positive and lead by example.

Do you have any advice for Melissa or anyone else dealing with a picky family?

nopin

Food Waste Friday | Saving Some Spinach

FoodWasteFriday After years of wasting hundreds, if not thousands of dollars of food, we are attempting to reduce our food waste. I will post a photo each week of our food waste and I will link up with Food Waste Friday over at The Frugal Girl.

This week wasn’t all that bad.  As usual, I found a few new ways to save some veggies AND trick my family into eating more of them.

I had a package (ugh, I hate overly packaged food) of organic spinach that had a few leaves that were starting to look sad.  I decided to throw some into dinner that night and put the rest in the freezer for fear that they wouldn’t make it before I got around to eating them.  We were having pasta with a simple tomato sauce (no meat), and I diced a few spinach leaves very fine and tossed them in.  Tony had no idea.  That’s one thing I really love about spinach.  Its flavor isn’t all that strong, so it’s easily added to other dishes with little or no detection.

The Scacchi House: Food Waste Friday

Freezing spinach is super simple.  I just pick off all the stems and toss them into a freezer bag.  Simple as that.  Oh, don’t forget to wash and dry it first.  As long as the spinach is really dry, the leaves shouldn’t stick to one another making it really easy to just pull a few out and add to meals.

I did actually throw something away this week.  We made pasta the first week we lived in the house and not thinking, I made an entire box.  Rylan was still here, so I think that threw me off.  I usually cook just over a half of a box.  This makes enough for the three of us, plus a small lunch-sized leftover portion.  This particular meal made lots of leftovers.

The Scacchi House: Food Waste Friday

After eating on them for a few days, I guess this little container got pushed to the back of the fridge.  Although it doesn’t look or smell bad, it has been in the fridge for about two weeks.  That’s way beyond my threshold for leftovers.  Oh well.

How did you do this week?

nopin

Eating Clean When You Don’t Have Time

While visiting my mom in Florida, her biggest complaint about eating clean was that she doesn’t have time.  I will be the first to admit, eating clean can be a bit time-consuming if you want it to be.

Tips for Eating Clean

But it doesn’t have to be!

  • Plan ahead!  This truly is key if you are busy.  You MUST sit down and plan out your meals for the week.  How will you eat clean if you have no clean meals planned? Your refrigerator will probably be empty too.  This goes hand-in-hand with the next step.
  • Prep!  Take an hour or two on Sunday afternoon to prep your food for the week.  Bake bread, cook beans, wash and cut fruits and veggies.  Make your good food your fast food.
  • Bread.  I have yet to find a commercially baked bread that I deem “clean”.  You’re probably thinking to yourself, “bread from scratch takes forever.”  Wrong!  Baking bread really only takes 30+ minutes of active work.  The key word here is ACTIVE.  Most of the time the bread is rising or baking.  Start with a simple whole wheat recipe.  You may be surprised to find that you actually enjoy baking.
  • Beans.  I’m a huge fan of beans. And while you can buy canned beans, I’m not a fan of all the added salt or the BPA-lined can.  I prefer to soak and cook my own beans.  Soak your beans overnight, then cook the next day.  You may be pleasantly surprised to find that beans don’t take all day to cook.  I can cook a pot of black beans about an hour.  The best part is that you can turn them on and walk away.  I’ve also cooked them in a crock pot.
  • Make a double batch.  If you are making soup or a casserole one night for dinner, prep a double batch and freeze it.  You can also cook a little extra and have enough for lunch the next day.

Buy Produce

  • Buy clean!  This may seem like a no-brainer, but only buy clean food.  If you buy junk, you’re going to eat junk.  Buy loads of fresh, seasonal produce!  If it’s there, you will eat it.
  • Create you own convenience foods.  If your family is stuck eating frozen meals from the grocery store, try creating clean freezer meals.  Spend a day freezing healthy meals that will feed your family for the entire week (or month, if you’re brave).  You don’t have to freeze complete meals either.  Below I have (from left to right) a rice mixture (brown & wild rice, black beans, corn, cilantro, and spices), cooked black beans, and sliced sweet peppers (which I saved here).  The rice and beans are both fully cooked and can easily be warmed or incorporated into a meal.  The peppers are ready to be tossed into stir-fry, or chopped into your morning eggs!

Clean Convenience Foods

  • Watch out for store-bought convenience foods.  There is so much hidden junk in prepared foods.  That being said, there are a few clean packaged foods. Look for organic items, they are a good place to start. (Think condiments to start off.)  But don’t be fooled, everything labeled organic is NOT automatically good for you!

Practice the three P’s: Plan, Purchase, and Prep!  If you decide you want to eat clean and make it a priority, it will happen.

Do you have any shortcuts that help you eat clean?

nopin

Reader Q&A: Why Does Food Make Me Feel Horrible?

Why does food make me feel horrible?

I received the following email from reader Brittany E.

I started eating clean about two weeks ago and I have felt great. I haven’t “cheated” other than a peanut nature valley bar due to not having eaten all day and that was about a week ago.

Well yesterday I let myself have a small bowl of red beans and rice and this morning I had one biscuit. Oh my goodness. My body absolutely hates me. Stomach pain, cramps, and even a slight bit of heart burn.

My question for you is did you ever go through this after you started eating better? And if so how did you handle it? I honestly was not having cravings when I ate these things and my sugar addiction is practically broken.

Hope this doesn’t sound crazy!!
Love the blog by the way 🙂

 

First off, thank you so much for taking the time to ask a question.  It means so much to hear from readers.

To answer your question, Yes!  This still happens to me if I eat something undesirable.  I’m guessing that the rice and beans and the biscuit were not homemade.  What is probably making you feel that way is the shortening in the biscuits.  Shortening does the same thing to me, every time.  Here are the ingredients in Crisco straight from their website:

Ingredients:

SOYBEAN OIL, FULLY HYDROGENATED PALM OIL, PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED PALM AND SOYBEAN OILS, MONO AND DIGLYCERIDES, TBHQ AND CITRIC ACID (ANTIOXIDANTS).

In my opinion, shortening is one of the worst things you could possible put in your body.  Unfortunately, that’s what most people use to make their biscuits.  My mom also uses butter flavored Crisco in her Judy’s Almost Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Sad to say, I won’t touch her cookies anymore.  They make me feel HORRIBLE!  It’s exactly what you described, stomach cramps, pain, and heartburn.  So not worth a cookie.

I’m no doctor, but here’s my theory on why this happens after you start eating clean.  When you start eating clean, you are allowing your body to heal.  Your body starts to expect only whole, nutrient rich foods.  What you feel after eating the biscuit is your body’s way of saying, “What were you thinking?  Never again!”  Your body doesn’t know how to process this chemical slurry.

Don’t beat yourself up over it.  Everyone slips up now and then.  Just be prepared for your body’s protest.

If you love red beans and rice and biscuits, it’s okay.  If you make these things at home, you can control what goes into them.  I’ve made very delicious red beans and rice from scratch that even my husband loves.  And we’re from the South, we love our biscuits.  When I make them at home, I use whole wheat flour and coconut oil instead of shortening.  That’s part of this journey, learning to cook all of your favorite foods in a way that’s better for your body.

You’re on the right track.  Being in tune with your body makes a huge difference.  Keep up the good work!

Does anyone else have any helpful information for Brittany?  If you have a question, email us at scacchihouse@yahoo.com.

nopin