This dilemma sent me on a recipe search online. To my delight, I found some great homemade snacks that are wallet and waistline friendly. My favorite is a simple oat cracker recipe that I have tweaked to satisfy my family's taste buds. Feel free to do the same, once you make a batch or two.
This recipe requires a food processor, or at least a good blender. The ingredients couldn't be more simple:
- Old Fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
- Olive oil
- Seasonings (paprika, cumin, or similar)
Begin by measuring out 2 cups of rolled oats and toss them into the food processor. Pulse until the consistency resembles flour. Now add about a teaspoon of salt and one teaspoon each of your favorite seasonings. I use paprika, cumin, and a McCormick blend called Applewood Rub.
Pulse a few times to mix in the seasonings. Then add three tablespoons olive oil and one tablespoon of honey. A trick I use when adding these last two ingredients: Measure the olive oil first. then use the same measuring spoon for the honey. The oil on the spoon makes the honey slide right off without any waste. Pretty slick (literally)!
Now it's time to turn the food processor on and let everything mix while you slowly add about 3/4 cup warm water. Don't add the water too quickly. Watch carefully for the ingredients to form into a dry dough. Add just enough more water to cause the dough to form a ball. When the dough ball begins to roll around in the food processor, turn the machine off.
Use some olive oil to generously grease a large cutting board. Turn the dough out onto the board and finish kneading it gently into a smooth sphere. Use a sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Then divide each half in half again. You should have 4 somewhat equal quarters of dough. Set three of them aside and roll the fourth one into a nice ball again. If the dough is crumbly, pour a little olive oil into the palm of your hand, rub your hands together. Then knead the dough for a few seconds to moisten.
With a large rolling pin (or a smooth jar), roll the dough into a rectangle about an 1/8 of an inch thick. Smooth the sides with your hands as you go, keeping the edges from crumbling. Now sprinkle some rolled oats (right from the oatmeal container) onto your rolled dough. I toss in some sunflower seeds (shelled) too when I have them. They give the crackers a nutty flavor and add extra salt. Now roll over the oats and seeds with rolling pin, pressing them lightly into the dough.
With a sharp knife or large pizza cutter, score your dough into cracker-shaped sections. I usually get about 15-20 small crackers out of one rolled sphere of dough. Because you greased the cutting board these "crackers" should lift easily with a butter knife or spatula.
Place the cut-outs on a greased cookie sheet, leaving a little space between each one. Continue rolling out the remainder of your dough, one quarter at a time, until you have all of your crackers cut out and placed onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake until crisp at about 325 degrees, checking every 5 or 10 minuted to make sure they don't burn.
When they come out of the oven, place the crackers on a plate or cooling rack for about 15 minutes before storing in a sealed container. I usually yield about 65 crackers from just 2 cups of oatmeal. When I factor in the few additional ingredients, I come up with a cost of about 45 cents per batch. Not bad, compared with store prices.
The best part is the taste. These crackers are flavorful, crunchy, and somewhat addicting. Thankfully, the oatmeal is filling. Otherwise I would be making these things every day!
The health benefits of these oat crackers are amazing. Oatmeal is great for lowering cholesterol and adding rich vitamins and minerals to your diet. It also extends the metabolism for hours, keeping you from getting hungry again right away and providing lots of energy for mind and body. And since they contain no wheat flour, they satisfy the gluten-free community too.
Don't waste any more time sifting through those "bloaty-blob" snacks at the grocery store. Grab the oatmeal off the shelf and go to work in the kitchen. It only takes about an hour to make a healthy alternative!