I used to think that I couldn't eat onions, dairy, anything spicy, anything too sweet, garlic, cilantro...the list goes on. In reality, my digestive system was so shot that those foods simply exacerbated what was already a constant problem. Within weeks of giving up gluten, I could eat all of those foods again with no problems at all. So in reality, by giving up gluten I felt like I could eat more freely than previously.
As time goes on for someone who eats gluten-free, you begin to find great alternatives for foods that you previously missed. I finally have two go-to's for bread (one store bought, one home made), so I don't miss sandwiches. I found the best gluten-free bakery ever (The Grainless Baker) for hot dog buns and hamburger buns. I think my brownie recipe is better than any other brownie recipe out there. (And when it comes to dessert, most of the time I'm too busy eating things like ice cream or Snickers bars to even miss a piece of cake!) There's just not really much I miss. However, there are still a few little foods out there, usually ones connected to some random piece of nostalgia, that make my mouth water wistfully whenever I see them or smell them.
Like Cheez-It crackers.
A little random, I know. For me though, Cheez-It crackers are connected to years of school lunches. While all the other kids had potato chips, I had Cheez-It crackers. I guess my mom saw them as a better snack alternative because they at least had protein from real cheese. They were cheaper than Goldfish (another beloved childhood commodity) and they were crunchy, salty and yummy.
I recently came across a recipe for homemade Goldfish crackers, and I was instantly intrigued. When I read the recipe, I got excited; I knew I could make it gluten-free. I've been learning about and experimenting quite a bit with alternative flours, and I knew just the right combination to make this babies good. I thought, "If they turn out, I'll finally have an easy, homemade cracker for the baby to munch." That right there was great incentive.
Friends, they turned out. And they were delicious. And I may or may not have cried a little.
Gluten-Free "Cheez-It" Crackers
(Adapted from this recipe.)
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
4 TBS cold, cubed butter
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to sprinkle over the tops
2 TBS cold water
3/4 cup sweet rice flour*
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp xanthan gum (you can find this at Wholefoods, or you can omit it, but your crackers might be a bit crumbly)
*A note about sweet rice flour:
Sweet rice flour is a God-send for gluten-free baking. It is not actually sweet; it is made from a shorter-grain rice that has more starch and makes baked goods hold together better. I get mine cheap from my local Asian food market.
Pulse all of the dry ingredients together in a food processor until well combined, then add the water and pulse until the dough comes together. Chill the dough well; at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator or 10 minutes in the freezer. Roll the dough out as thin as possible; this is important for a crispy, crunchy cracker. Use a pizza cutter to make little squares. Lay the crackers on a non-stick baking sheet and use a fork to poke the tops of each cracker. (This will help them stay flat.) Sprinkle with a bit more salt. Bake at 350 for 7 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake another 7 minutes, or until just golden at the edges.
|Why is this not like my regular cheese?|
|They don't spread, so you barely need to leave any space at all.|
|Poke those holes!|
|Looking super yummy while baking.|
|Best lunch ever!|
|Sweet Pea LOVED them!|
|Like, really loved them.|
These were simple, fun and easy. I made them on a dark, rainy day when we were home sick. They were the perfect comfort food with soup. Make them; I promise you won't be disappointed!