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Monday, March 5, 2012

Flax Crackers - Mmmmm Fiber


Fiber is a non-digestible part of the plant that passes through the GI tract, absorbing fluid. It helps bind stool together and keep things moving. Recommended fiber intake is about 20-35 grams, but the average American only eats about 12-18 grams. Why so little? A LOT of our food is highly processed and we are a convenience-minded society. Is it easier to dehydrate your own crackers for 3 days, or grab a box of tasty but nutritionally defunct crackers at the grocery store? Most bread and pasta has little to no fiber, and many Americans do not consume even the minimum suggested amount of fruits and vegetables. Americans and other Western societies tend to eat a high amount of meat (20% or higher of daily food volume), which has zero fiber. Higher fiber intake correlates to lower incidences of colorectal cancers and digestive issues, better heart health, and lower incidences of cancer. I do wonder whether it's strictly the fiber intake, or whether it is a combination of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber working together because over the counter fiber supplements do not provide as much benefit in colorectal studies as individuals who eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables.

Flax is not the most absorb-able plant food. There are a lot of omega fatty acids in flax, but only a small fraction is absorbed. I generally turn to other oils and chia for fatty acid intake, and I take those with vitamin C to up absorption. Flax is a great fiber source, and I usually combine my crackers with a wide array of veggies to make the crackers more nutrient rich. The toughest part about making these crackers is waiting for them to dehydrate completely. I tend to pick at them, testing for how done they are of course, and I catch Lance doing the same. They are really tasty with Dr. Cow Cashew Cream Cheese or miso spread. I also enjoy breaking them up over salad as croutons. Lance is a conventional food kind of guy, but he really loves these cracker as well.

Flax Crackers

Makes 4 dehydrator trays

1 c flax, ground
1 c flax, whole
1 c almonds
1/2 c sunflower seeds
4 T chia, ground
2 t salt
1 T marjoram
1 T basil
1 t herbs de provence
1/2 t turmeric
3 T dulse, ground
2T parsley (dried - or 1/4 cup fresh)
1 onion, run through a mandolin slicer or food processor
1 3/4 c green juice
4 c juicer fiber
3 c water
1/2 c apple cider vinegar

Run the almonds and sunflower seeds through the food processor with an s-blade until you have an almond meal consistency. Pour the mixture into a bowl and add the flax, chia, salt, herbs, seaweed (dulse), and onions. I left the onions in long slices but you could easily put them through the s-blade or blender and combine them that way as well to get the flavor without the strings of onion. Combine the dry ingredients, juicer fiber, and onion thoroughly and then add the wet ingredients.

I made the green juice out of one bunch of kale, one heart of celery, 3 carrots, 2 stalks of broccoli (I had used the heads in a salad), and a head of romaine lettuce. There was quite a big of fiber left in my juicer container, and I just incorporated that into the crackers as well. The juice was pretty good on its own, but it lent well to the crackers.

I spread the ingredients on teflex sheets on the dehydrator trays and put them in at 150 for an hour. If you want uniform little crackers, use the non-business end of a spoon or fork and make square shapes in the batter before dehydrating. After an hour at 150 degrees, I turned down the temperature to 110. After 24 hours, I flipped the crackers onto a mesh sheet and let them dry the remainder of the time on the mesh. If you cut the batter into smaller crackers, it will probably be done a day earlier than leaving them in sheets and then breaking into uneven shapes after they are done dehydrating. You will know they are done when they are brittle and have a good crunch to them. It took about 3 days, but it's been very humid here and I don't think that helped with the time table.

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