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.
Photo courtesy of NinaPlanck.com
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?Print This Recipe