I was saved from a Cambazola guilt trip a few days ago when my dog ate almost an entire wedge on the way home from the store. I can’t really blame her as it fell out of the bag as I turned the corner and landed at her feet. I’m sure she couldn’t believe her luck -like manna from heaven! Of course, I had to find something else to serve our guests, but it meant I didn’t get any either.
When it comes to appetizers I am a cheese and crackers girl. I will walk straight by the fancy hors d ‘Oeuvres and head right to the cheese platter, especially if it includes Cambazola or some other soft, aromatic (read stinky) cheese or spread. I may hang out at the veggie platter for a while too but I have been known to make crackers with cheese or dip most, if not all of my dinner. Unfortunately, cheese, while delicious, is pretty fat laden and high calorie (especially if you can’t step away from the table) and crackers don’t usually add much nutrition. Knowing my weakness, I am always looking for a healthier alternative and I think I’ve found one!
While perusing the ‘Vegetarian Everyday’ cookbook by Frankiel and Vindahl, I stumbled upon the Orange-Kissed Seed Crackers. The photo was beautiful and the name, oh so cute. They are gluten free and nut free multi-seed crackers that are really good for you. You can use amaranth, quinoa or almond flour, all of which are highly nutritious and make a good cracker base. Three pages later I spotted the Red Pepper & Rosemary Spread, gorgeous orange-red in color, made from roasted red peppers and sunflower seeds with a bit of spice from cayenne pepper and fresh rosemary. This spread uses no oil and gets it’s creaminess from blending the peppers in a food processor with sunflower seeds. The combination of these two is pretty addictive, although the crackers would be pretty good with Cambazola too. 🙂
The cracker recipe calls for many seeds that I have never used and I wasn’t sure how easy they would be to find. I didn’t find hemp seeds so substituted poppy seeds but I’m sure other seeds can be substituted as long as the total quantity is the same. Here is the rundown on what each seed has to offer from a nutritional standpoint. Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, zinc, iron, calcium, and Vitamin E. Pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas, are chock full of magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, tryptophan, and iron. They’re also a good source of copper, zinc, and Vitamin K. Sesame seeds are loaded with copper and manganese, and also have plenty of calcium, magnesium, tryptophan, and iron. Sunflower seeds are a tremendous source of Vitamin E and are also rich in Vitamin B1. Hemp seeds are rich in protein, calcium, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. (www.qualityhealth.com). Throw in quinoa flour and you’ve got a grain free, gluten free, protein and vitamin packed and very savory cracker you can gobble up guilt free. You may not even have to make dinner…
Orange-Kissed Seed Crackers
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup flax seeds, ground
1/2 cup hemp seeds
scant 1 cup amaranth, quinoa or almond flour
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsn freshly squeezed orange juice (optional)
1 Tbsn honey or maple syrup(optional)
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Combine all the seeds in a medium bowl. Scoop out about a quarter of them and reserve for the topping.
- Add flour, salt and olive oil with 1 1/4 cups water and stir to combine. It should be loose. Add more water if it seems thick. It will evaporate during cooking.
- Line 2 12 x 24 in. baking sheets with parchment paper. Pour half the batter over the paper onto each pan and use a spatula to spread the batter as thinly as you can.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Whisk together the honey and orange juice (if desired) in a small bowl.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the cracker with the glaze and sprinkle with the reserved seeds
- Cut into 2 inch pieces and bake for 30 minutes more or until they are crunchy.
- Cool on a wire rack.
NOTE: I followed the recipe pretty closely but next time I would add a bit more maple syrup or honey to make the seeds stick better. I will also try another type of flour with a less earthy taste and sprinkle some coarse or flaked sea salt on top as well.
Red Pepper & Rosemary Spread3 large red bell peppers, halved and seeded 2/3 cup sunflower seeds pinch of cayenne pepper sea salt juice of 1/2 lemon 2 sprigs of rosemary
- Roast the peppers on a baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, or until slightly charred. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
- Meanwhile, toast the sunflower seeds, cayenne and salt in a dry frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes.
- When the peppers have cooled, peel away the skin and roughly chop.
- Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Will keep in an airtight container for 2 weeks.
NOTE: You can also roast the peppers on broil or on the grill. They peel more easily if you put them in a paper bag while they cool.