Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pizza Crackers

Ever wonder what to do with all the juice pulp leftover from making fresh vegetable juice?  Well, here's your answer.  These crackers are made completely from vegetables and seeds, and are "raw" -- which means they are still full of health-giving enzymes.   But they're also dehydrated so they taste cooked like a real cracker.

The idea for this recipe came from a raw food book my good friend Nadine gave me called "Raw Inspiration".  I combined and changed a couple of the "cracker" recipes and came up with this version, which I'm just crazy about.  It only takes a few quick minutes to process the ingredients together, but some pre-soaking and having juice pulp on hand is needed.  Any pre-planning is well worth it though.  Not only do these crunchy wonders smell like pizza baking in the oven, they are amazing spread with pesto, hummus, or Greek yogurt!

Note on deydrating:  I devised this method of dehydrating the cracker dough using my gas oven because I don't have a food dehydrator with the plastic Teflex sheets needed for wet mixtures.  While it seems like 4-6 hours is a long time to "cook" something, it's really no bother because the oven is on so low (less than 180 degrees), and I make the crackers when I'm around the house doing other things so I can keep my eye on them occasionally.  I suppose these crackers could be baked at a higher temperature, but then they wouldn't be "raw" and wouldn't have all the enzymes still present. 

Soak 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and 1/4 cup flax seeds (not flax meal) in water to cover for about 2-4 hours in the fridge.

Before starting the cracker "dough" below, cut a sheet of parchment paper to fit a cookie sheet, and heat the oven to about 120 degrees.

Into the food processor, until chopped fine:
1 fresh carrot
1 medium to large clove garlic

Add the sunflower seed and flax seed mixture (drain excess water first) and process

Add to the mixture and process, just until blended (don't overprocess):
1 medium to large fresh tomato
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. Kosher salt

Add about 2 cups mixed vegetable pulp, from previously made vegetable juice (from a juicer) and process until it comes together into something like a moist dough
To make vegetable juice, I normally use the following vegetables, and save the pulp to use for these crackers:  about 4 large carrots, 2 celery, 2-3 large romaine lettuce leaves, handful of spinach, 1" of ginger root, a handful of cilantro and/or parsley, and sometimes half a cucumber. Use whatever appeals to you.

Remove the cracker "dough" and spread onto the (parchment paper) cookie sheet
It can be spread either uniformly into one large shape, as in a pizza crust, or into two or four individual rectangular shapes, or however you like (it will be cut into cracker shapes at the end for crackers, or can be used as a pizza crust).  It should be spread smooth to about 1/2 inch thick, or less.  This amount of cracker dough will just about spread to fill a normal-sized cookie sheet.  Smooth it out with the spatula -- the more uniform it is when wet, the more uniform (and without holes) the finished crackers will be.  

Dehydrate in the oven at about 120 degrees (or a little higher) for about 3 hours
Then turn the partly dried dough over; remove the parchment paper, and dry about 3 more hours on the second side.  Use your judgment before turning it the first time.  The mixture needs to be dry enough to peel the paper off the back when you turn it over.  Sometimes it doesn't take as long to dry the second side, so start watching it after about 2 hours.  Also, the oven temp may be a bit hotter at times, but it's less than the 200 degree mark on my oven. 

After the sheet of crackers is dry to your satisfaction, cut it into squares of any size.  These crackers store really well and stay dry and crispy in a covered container (e.g., a ziploc or Rubbermaid container with a lid).  That is, if you can keep from eating them all first.  Enjoy!

Adele Sonora
Nutrition and Health Educator

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