When E. was born, nearly 2 years ago now, he received a really beautiful, illustrated copy of “The Wind and the Willows” from one of Paul’s friends.
At 229 pages, I figured this was a book we would largely ignore until E. became old enough to listen to chapter-length bedtime stories.
But lately E. has been really into his “big book.”
He hoists it off the shelf with both hands and drops it on my lap.
“Heavy,” he says, with satisfaction.
Then we flip through the pages and talk about the drawings of Mr. Toad, Mr. Mole, boats, cars and countryside. One of his favorite pictures shows a couple of animals having a picnic in the grass.
“What are they eating?” I ask.
“Watermelon,” E. says decisively, though there’s no watermelon in sight.
“Tea,” he adds. “Toast.”
“If you were going to have a picnic, what would you take to eat?” I ask next.
“Crackers!” he says.
This little boy loves crackers with a passion. He has only recently begun to pronounce the entire word and would instead beg, urgently, for “more crack! more crack!”
I relayed the above story to Paul, while E. listened on from his highchair. “Crackers…” he repeated, dreamily, and for a full minute or two afterwards he was lost in thought, no doubt imagining life with more of this beloved snack food.
I never buy boxed crackers (although E. did make short work of a box of unsalted Matzo during Passover), but he eats them at daycare and at my parents’ house and sometimes I feel bad that he never gets to enjoy his favorite food at home.
The thing is, I don’t really like to fill him up on a bunch of processed food and refined carbs. Plus, if I bought crackers I would eat them too and I really don’t need any of that stuff either.
So I started tinkering around with ways to make a healthier homemade cracker. Something tasty enough to be eaten by the handful and with enough nutritional oomph that there’s no reason to hold back.
I incorporated lentils into this recipe because I had some leftover from a previous meal and we all know how I feel about food waste. Plus, E. loves lentils but sometimes has trouble successfully spooning the roly-poly little things into his mouth and eating them one-by-one gets old fast.
These nubby little lentil crackers are chockablock full of good stuff like fiber, iron and protein. They taste a bit nutty and salty and are good enough to eat plain, although I think they’d be especially good with a swipe of soft goat cheese or maybe mascarpone.
They’re also a breeze to make and a good way to use up any leftover lentils lurking in the refrigerator.
Unfortunately, they are also the only cracker E. has ever met that he would not eat.
And so, the search continues.
Nonetheless, I’m pretty happy with the way these crackers turned out. They’ve definitely earned their place in the pantry — even if I’m the only one who eats them.
These lentil crackers are easy to make and pack a real nutritional punch.
I rolled the dough out immediately, but you could also wrap it in plastic wrap and stash it in the fridge for a bit if you need to. The rest might even make it easier to roll out.
The freshly-made crackers are tasty, but I actually thought they were better a day or two after baking.
- 1/2 cup cooked lentils
- 2/3 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons ground flax seed
- 1 tablespoon honey (*see notes for vegan option)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
In a food processor, puree the lentils until they break down into a paste. This does not need to be completely smooth.
Add the other ingredients and process until the dough comes together into a ball. It will seem a bit oily.
On a well-floured surface, roll the dough out to the thickness of about 1/8". Cut the dough into small squares (Or diamonds, or whatever. Simple shapes are best though — I don't think I'd try animal crackers with this dough.) and repeat with any scraps. Use the tip of an oven thermometer or the blunt end of a wooden skewer to dock each cracker.
Transfer the crackers to the prepared baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes. Flip the crackers over and bake for an additional two to four minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
* I'm pretty sure you could replace the honey with something like brown rice syrup to make vegan crackers. I haven't tried this, but I would love to hear from anyone who does.