Real Food & Mustard Cheddar Crackers

by Maris Callahan on April 15, 2009


Recently I read a book that a colleague who shares my love of good-for-you food recommended. In Real Food, Nina Planck challenges conventional theories about “real foods.” Despite recent medical claims that saturated fats impair health, she suggests that natural food sources such as cream, butter, eggs and animal fats are not in fact responsible for causing disease, including certain heart conditions and diabetes.

Planck argues that as the processed food industry has grown in popularity, American health has, overall, seen a decline in the last hundred years. For example, heart disease as we know it was first diagnosed in the 20th century, yet our ancestors have been eating milk and butter for about 30,000 years and beef for 2 or 3 million.


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While, at times in the book, Planck seemed a little bit preach-y, (no, I’m not going to be milking my own cows anytime soon no matter how much tastier raw milk is than pasteurized milk) she did make some great points about the industrialization of farming. After reading it, I wanted to toss my canned soups, trash my store-bought bread and fill my fridge with grass-fed beef and fresh local produce. Though I have no plans to start eating raw meat or cheese, (we HAVE evolved since 10,000 years ago and so have food bourne illnesses) the book did prompt me to think twice about what I buy and what I put in my body.

It also prompted me to make one of my favorite packaged snacks from scratch: crackers. There’s nothing I love more than a snack – or a meal- of cheese and crackers. There are so many different types of cheeses that taste nothing alike and what better way to enjoy them than against a complementary flatbread or crostini.

These crumbly crackers turned out a little bit thicker than most crackers – kind of like a savory cookie, but still tasty and would pair nicely with a glass of crisp white wine, enjoyed on your patio in the late spring or summertime.


Mustard Cheddar Crackers

What You Need:

2 sticks (1 cup; ½-lb) unsalted butter, softened
1 lb sharp Cheddar, coarsely grated (preferably in a food processor; about 5 cups)
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1/4 cup brown or yellow mustard seeds
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting


1. Blend together the butter, cheese, and yolk in a food processor until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse until just combined. Transfer the dough (it will be very soft) to a bowl and chill, covered, 15 minutes.

2. Halve the dough, then shape each half into a 12-inch log on a lightly floured surface. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap or parchment paper, then chill until firm, at least 4 hours.

3. Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone mat.

4. Unwrap the logs and cut thinly (into 1/8-inch-thick slices) with a sharp knife, then arrange slices about ½-inch apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake, in batches, until pale golden, 12 to 15 minutes.

5. Cool the crackers on the baking sheet on a cooling rack for about 10 minutes. Then transfer the crackers on the rack to cool completely. Cool the baking sheet (run under cold water), reline with clean parchment and continue with the rest of the crackers.

Tell me what you think about eating “real” foods. Do you eat processed foods? Do you think it’s healthier to eat the full-fat, versions of foods in their purest forms. Do you support the industrialization of farming practices and food production?

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

you know what though? Seriously? I’m not sure its the whole processed food thing getting us sick… I think it’s just that we are WAY lazier than our ancestors.


jshively April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

I look at my grandparents for the proof that the butters and animal fats won’t kill you. Grandpa is 91 and grandma is 86. They both still cook everything in butter and animal fat. Still alive, kicking, and doing well. So if it works for them it has to work for me.


ksgoodeats April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

Mustard and cheddar are like PBJ – they belong together!! Thanks for the recipe!


Melissa April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

It’s rare that you will find anything processed in my house, though Steve still likes the single serving bags of chips like Fritos and Doritos to take with work lunches. I will sometimes also buy him the mac and beef frozen Stouffer’s meal to take because he likes it. That’s about it. I am a huge proponent of real food. Natural is best for our bodies. Though I agree that I am not about to eat raw meat and cheese… I believe in natural and real to the degree that it also fits into our contemporary world in a practical way.
And a meal of cheese and these crackers? Bring it on!


gazellesoncrack April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

I have been toying with the idea of making my own saltines, and will definitely add these to my cracker making list – they look really yummy.
As for REAL food – I do my best to minimize processed food. We make our own bread soups toaster waffles, and of course I have my garden! (Although just for the record, even when we got our milk direct from the dairy, we took it home pasteurized it with our mini-home pasteurizer.)


Rachel April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

Yay! I love this book. I’m glad to see it on a food blog. Crackers look yummy too!


kat April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

The more we read the more we find ourselves changing how we eat too. We’ve been making our own bread for about a year a half now, joined a CSA now we are going to be sourcing all our meat locally as well. It really makes a difference.


ANG* April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

those sound incredible. who thinks of making their own crackers?! YUM. must try…


Sara April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

I love savory crackers. I haven’t made them in a while, but this looks like a great one to try!


VeggieGirl April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

Great crackers; and thanks for the book review!!


elra April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

What a delicious savory crackres. Nice and crunchy too.


Sophie April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

MAris, they look really appetizing! Yum!


Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

They sound delicious Maris! The book sounds interesting but I often get turned off when the preaching begins-I wouldn’t know where to begin to find a cow to milk hehe


Ashley April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

For some reason the thought of making crackers seems so novel to me. I guess you don’t hear of people making crackers very often. Except for the Keebler Elves, of course.
I do think that eating real foods is better, but I don’t define real foods like the book you read. I’m not heading out to a far anytime soon either. But, I try to stay away from the diet foods and full-of-nothing food. Of course, try=think about it, but then eat a hot pocket.


Pearl April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

mustard cheddar crackers.. wow :)


Cate O'Malley April 15, 2009 at 3:00 am

Mmm, love savory crackers – my mom made some cheddar ones for Easter … these look delish!


Melissa April 16, 2009 at 3:00 am

I’m often torn on this because in our house we eat so little dairy. My husband is vegan so we eat things like margarine instead of butter. For the most part we try to eat whole foods, lots of grains, vegetables, beans, but we are not crazy about it. In fact I think Brian would die if someone tried to take away his high-fructose corn syrup laden granola!
But it’s not just the type of food it is how it is raised and how much of we consume. I think we tend to consume so much more of the “bad stuff” than we think we do.


Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) April 16, 2009 at 3:00 am

This is a perfect example of how to have your craving and eat it, too. While they’re not exactly Cheese Doodles, these crackers incorporate those things we crave (cheese) in a much healthier way. Eating “real foods” was the Julia Child mantra; she preached moderation and portion control long before they were fashionable. But she always used real butter in her cooking.


Jescel April 16, 2009 at 3:00 am

i stay away from processed food as much as I can too. nothing beats home-made stuff, ‘coz you know what’s in it.. your crackers look godo. it’s a good idea to bake them.
when i think about all these “diet fads” that’s coming out – i think that it’s not really the food that’s to be blamed – but ultimately it’s us not taking care of ourselves! moderation and balance + exercise and proper rest(and no vices like smoking/drinking), i believe, is the key to healthy living.


twinkietoez April 16, 2009 at 3:00 am

Thanks for the nice comment on my blog. I just moved everything over to wordpress because every time I used blogger something wasn’t right and had to go back and redo and redo and redo…well you get the picture.
My husband would probably love these crackers. I’m not a mustard fan but he loves it so will add you to my reader. Thanks for the recipe!


Joey April 16, 2009 at 3:00 am

Mustard. *thumbs up*


Kerstin April 16, 2009 at 3:00 am

How cool you made your own crackers – they look yummy!


Cora @ Cora Cooks April 16, 2009 at 3:00 am

Maris, I had completely forgotten about making crackers many years ago. I think they may have been rye crackers, but I’m not exactly sure. They were delicious though, and I really should see if I can find the recipe. Until then, I will definetly give these a try! Thanks for the reminder.


Chelsea Talks Smack April 17, 2009 at 3:00 am

Oh. I am. SALIVATING. Delish.


Lynda April 17, 2009 at 3:00 am

The combination of mustard and cheddar would make delicious crackers! Bravo for making them!
I have cut out alot of processed food as I think homemade is better. We still use pasturized milk and my hubby still likes his Cheerios!
Thanks for stopping by my blog today; yours looks great so I’ll be back often!


Kathy - Cooking On the Side April 17, 2009 at 3:00 am

I have a feeling I would eat just as many savory cookies as I do sweet ones :-)
I’ve been trying to steer away from processed foods more often these days, although sometimes practicality dictates a shortcut here and there. I don’t know whether it’s healthier to eat full-fat foods or not, but I do know I tend to like them more. So my solution is to try and eat the real thing, but just less of it.


Elissa April 18, 2009 at 3:00 am

I’ve never made crackers before, though I’ve heard once you make them you never go back to the store bought stuff. Yours sound so intriguing – I’ve never seen mustard in cheddar crackers. They look lovely!


Leslie April 18, 2009 at 3:00 am

ohh I am sooo excited that butter is now a health food!!!LOL Bring on the butter!


Joie de vivre April 18, 2009 at 3:00 am

Thanks for the book recommendation, and the warning about preachyness. I have been reading The French Don’t Diet plan and the author espouses the same thing about processed foods. I’m always on the hunt for new books so I think I’ll give this one a try too. It got me to make my own granola this week! Crackers are next on my list! :) Have you ever seen a recipe for graham crackers? Just wondering.


Tangled Noodle April 18, 2009 at 3:00 am

Cracker or savory cookie, they look great!


prettyneato April 22, 2009 at 3:00 am

I appreciate local foods MUCH more than mass produced … but … availability and price sometimes have me taking what I can get. I read the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle last year and it had a HUGE impact on me and my ideals. I do splurge on cool whip (yes, it is fake food), flavored coffee and bananas. I have made a lot of changes and sacrifices – all for the better!
And, these crackers?! ZOMG – look De-Lish! I cannot wait to make them.


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