I knew vaguely for some reason that graham crackers were meant to be a “healthy” food. I’m not sure if it’s something I was told from my childhood or a belief held by society or what. This has always confused me because the modern graham cracker of today certainly doesn’t look, feel or taste healthy. They’re loaded with sugar, use uber refined ingredients and are mass produced by the bajillion. Considering that most people eat (or at least associate) them as S’mores, cheesecake crusts and piecrusts, the health label seems like another lie people tell themselves. No?
Well, apparently graham crackers are meant to be healthy. MEANT to. A health nut minister named Sylvester Graham invented graham crackers in 1829. He was an advocate of vegetarianism and swore that an unhealthy diet would lead to uncontrollable, carnal urges and sexual excess. He believed that physical lust was harmful for the body (as any good minister should) and caused consequences as dire as pulmonary consumption, spinal diseases, epilepsy and insanity. So, to Graham a high fiber, vegetarian diet was the key to purity and chastity, while meat and refined foods meant debauchery, destruction and non-stop sex. Hmm… tough choice.
No. Not really.
Like most North Americans, I have yo-yo’d with my weight and my ideas of (read: dedication to) a healthy lifestyle. From a heavy set youth to starving myself to eating everything in my path to severely restricting my food intake, I’ve gone through the self-hate-through-food thing for a good portion of my life. So many of us have. Eating disorders are a fairly new phenomenon in the history of human kind. Born out of excess (something that didn’t exist for anyone other than royalty until the middle class appeared) we binge, we purge, we starve and we judge our food.
The puritanical reactions to unhealthy lifestyles aren’t really any healthier. As an ex-raw foodist, I remember convincing myself (many years ago) that certain foods were evil and that my pure insides would surely burn and melt if I consumed a piece of white bread or grain of refined sugar. I didn’t realize until much later that these were thoughts of someone who hates food.
The whole thing is such an old, tired story full of clichés and I’m sick of it. I LOVE food. I LOVE cooking and I LOVE eating. I took a stand against the horrid cycle and found something that feels balanced and real. Here are my guidelines:
- Eat in moderation.
- Try anything I want.
- Always choose fresh, real ingredients.
- Don’t deny myself (denial responds with feelings of rebellion, resentment and guilt)
- Exercise regularly.
This has worked for me for several years. I’m in the best shape I’ve been in ages and I feel more balanced and happy with my relationship to food. Hail Mary.
These graham crackers were made using a somewhat similar recipe to Minister Graham’s original recipe. But as I’m not one to deny myself of a tasty idea, they also contain chocolate. A bit of balance goes a long way.
Step 1: Ingredients and Directions
Homemade Graham Crackers with White Chocolate Frosting
- 2 ½ cups graham flour
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup butter
- 1/8 cup molasses
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2 eggs
- 3 tbsp water
- 1 tsp salt
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- 1 ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp anise powder
- 5 oz of white chocolate (optional)
- licorice powder (optional)
- Melt butter. Add honey and molasses to the butter and mix.
- Add eggs and water to the mixture and mix.
- In a different bowl, combine salt, baking soda, flours and spices. Stir.
- Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until well incorporated and smooth.
- Wrap in plastic and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven at 350ºF/180ºC/Gas mark 4.
- Find a clean surface to roll your crackers and spread flour over it to prevent sticking. Make fist sized balls of dough and roll evenly to a 1/8 inch thickness.
- Cut your crackers into small squares or rectangles, about 2x2 inches.
- Use a fork to mark those satisfying graham cracker dots.
- Bake for about 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
- If you wish to add white chocolate, melt some in a double boiler and spread a thin coat on the back of your crackers. Refrigerate to harden.
- If you wish to add licorice powder, sprinkle some to the layer of chocolate before cooled.
- Makes 20-24 crackers.
- Eat with love.