It’s now three years since I first started writing the Primal Plate food blog with the intention of sharing recipes that would fill in the perceived food ‘gaps’ when you eat low-carb. I also wanted to help steer the Primal community and others away from the insane demand for more meat, which causes unbearable suffering to millions of farm animals, and towards a more compassionate, vegetarian lifestyle.
I’ve created numerous grain and sugar-free alternatives to conventional recipes for bread, biscuits, cake, pizza, pasta, ice cream and one of my latest triumphs…sugar-free meringues for goodness sake! But I’m not done yet. Whilst low-carb, like-for-like potato chips and pizza still elude me, today’s recipe for Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins does add another surprisingly good string to Primal Plate’s bow. Finally, here is an irresistible substitute for savoury crispbread, crackers, crisps or tortilla chips to serve with cheese, dips or simply to snack on them plain for pre-dinner nibbles. With the crispy, salt-seasoned delicacy of a potato crisp and the nuttiness of wafer-thin artisan crisp bread, these ‘all-rounders’ are what we’ve been missing in our lives since going low-carb and Primal. As Sarah exclaimed when she first tried them: “Well, that’s all our parties now sorted!”.
I originally baked these Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins in a fit of pique because we’d been forced to eat a plate of cheese without any accompaniments at an expensive, highfalutin, Nottingham restaurant that couldn’t - or wouldn’t - volunteer a low-carb alternative to bread or crackers. What is it with restauranteurs and chefs that send out cheese with no biscuits whilst charging a hefty subsidy because you didn’t choose dessert? A plate of good cheese without ‘extras’ is a sorrowful affair. This, after forewarning the chef in writing of our specific dietary requirements, weeks in advance of our booking. And since we were approaching the end of our meal, there was no wine left in our glasses either! Wading through a plate of cheese without biscuits and/or wine is enough to drive you crackers. Hence these Flaxseed Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins are my way of making good the “Cheese please” ordering anomaly that seems to exist in the catering industry when you don’t eat grains or sugar. Head chefs take note: You could easily have your commis chef knock these up in no time at all.
Inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe for Linseed & Rosemary Crackers, it has to be said, I think my Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins are better than Hugh’s! I’ve omitted the grains, added sesame flour, extra herbs and seasoning for more flavour and used cold-pressed macadamia nut oil instead of water to bind the mixture together. You could use olive or coconut oil instead. Anyway, the addition of oil means the cooked crackers won’t stick to the baking parchment, which Hugh’s tend to do. And, you get more nutritional bang for your bucks. Flaxseeds are high in fibre, low in carbs and a primary source of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids help decrease inflammation, which is a trigger for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and arthritis. Macadamia nut oil is a great addition not just for its buttery flavour but because it’s high in monounsaturated oil (boasts 10 times more MUFA’s than olive oil), it’s low in inflammatory omega-6 fats and it’s packed with nutrients like potassium, magnesium, calcium, selenium, vitamin E, niacin, and folic acid.
Crackers and cheese is my new favourite thing because I do not subscribe to even a sniff of low-carb deprivation! Totally delicious, Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins are quick and easy to make. Just throw everything together in a bowl, divide the dough into two and roll out each half very thinly into a single large cracker - no faff or cutting-out required - then bake. When cooked and cooled, break into attractive looking shards of healthy goodness that you can munch your way through with cheese to your absolute heart’s content…quite literally!
If you’re convinced full-fat dairy is an enemy to your heart, you are not well informed. Far from being injurious to health, latest studies show that consuming whole dairy products is inversely associated with diabetes and heart disease, has no association with chronic disease or mortality and is most possibly health-protective. For vegetarians wishing to follow a low-carb or keto diet, my advice would be “Knock yourself out!”
You just need to make sure that wherever possible it’s raw, organic and grass-fed. Aged, cheese (6 months or more), such as Cheddar and Parmesan-style, is a particularly healthful addition to a keto, vegetarian diet. The higher the fat content of cheese, the better. This is because lactose is mainly drained away in the cheese making process. Ditto whole-milk that’s fermented for at least 24 hours to make lactose-free yogurt and kefir.
Low-fat, reduced fat, skimmed or heat-treated milk i.e. pasteurised and UHT (Ultra High Temperature) is not the same thing. When milk is heat treated, it destroys many of the nutrients such as vitamins and enzymes (essential for nutrient absorption) that make raw milk beneficial. Allergies and lactose intolerance is higher with pasteurised milk as well. For a supply of safe-to-drink, fresh, raw milk, I recommend you find an organic dairy that prides itself on being meticulously clean. I buy mine from Emma’s Dairy at Gazegill Organics.
Remember, your body prefers fat to glucose as its energy source because fats burn much ‘cleaner’ - the oxidation of fats takes longer and at the same time gives off more energy. Sadly, people have been brainwashed into thinking that full-fat dairy is unhealthy because of its saturated fat content (64% in butter). Saturated fat, according to public health advisers still relying on pseudo science, raises blood cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol (otherwise known as “bad cholesterol”), which puts you at higher risk for heart disease. It’s not that simple, as an episode of BBC2’s programme ‘Trust Me, I’m A Doctor’ recently found out. Researchers at Cambridge University discovered that eating 50 grams of coconut oil (90% saturated fat) every day for 4 weeks did not raise LDL cholesterol levels (the “bad cholesterol” associated with heart disease) at all. It did raise HDL cholesterol levels by an impressive 14% and HDL is the good cholesterol that helps remove the bad cholesterol. Boom! After decades of medical hullabaloo surrounding saturated fat, it turns out that high-in-saturated fat coconut oil is more heart-protective than olive oil!
What then to make of a new science advisory from the American Heart Association that recently recommended not ingesting coconut oil because it’s high in saturated fat? I say, ignore it! Perpetuating heart disease is in the AHA’s best interest because if heart disease ceased to exist they’d be out of a job. Meanwhile, real science is doing ground-breaking research that is finally forcing the medical establishment to accept that the key to reversing disease, such as type-2 diabetes, is simply an effective weight management programme. That’s bad news for the pharmaceutical and junk food industries but good news for the NHS and you - if you’ll take personal responsibility.
It’s astonishing to me that as we witness the NHS collapsing under a burgeoning demand for healthcare by an ageing, chronically diseased society, the government opts to continue to subsidise the cost of ill-health rather than promote wellness through good nutrition. They could save millions! True, it would take the political will to oppose modern farming methods with its obsession for GMO’s and toxic agro-chemicals; help restore healthy soils, insects and wildlife by subsidising sustainable farming practices and completely overhaul UK’s dietary guidelines. For that reason, I don’t imagine food utopia happening any time soon.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, fast becoming known as one of the most influential cardiologists in Britain and a world leading expert in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart disease and a senior adviser to the National Obesity Forum said:
"The change in dietary advice to promote low fat foods is perhaps the biggest mistake in modern medical history. We must urgently change the message to the public to reverse obesity and type 2 diabetes. Eat fat to get slim, don't fear fat, fat is your friend."
How much longer will you wait? Hopefully not until you inevitably find yourself one of the unfortunates being sent home by an overstretched NHS to sort out your own health issues.
I heard that “It’s easier to change a man’s religion than his diet” but here I go again…to spare yourself the indignity and suffering of disease, start cutting the carbs now, eliminate sugar and when you’ve accomplished this, begin eating more healthy fat…much more.
To that end, Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins topped with lots of butter and cheese will play a most enjoyable part.
Wishing you a happy and healthy 2018.
Flaxseed, Sesame & Rosemary Crispy Thins (serves 4)
100 ml freshly filtered boiled water
25g organic ground flaxseed (see Notes below)
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
a good grinding of organic black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp fresh organic rosemary, finely chopped
1 tbsp cold-pressed macadamia nut oil, + extra for oiling
Sea salt flakes
Place the flaxseeds in a heatproof bowl and pour over the boiling water. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C / 300°F / Gas mark 3
Place the dry ingredients into a medium sized bowl.
Take 2 sheets of baking parchment and generously brush one side of each with oil. Set aside - oiled side uppermost.
Add the flaxseeds with their soaking water, the chopped rosemary and 1 tbsp of macadamia nut oil to the dry ingredients. Use a fork to mix everything together really well, then squash the mixture together with your hands into a ball of dough.
Place half the cracker dough (about 130g) on top of the oiled side of one of the sheets of baking parchment - slap bang in the centre - then lay the other sheet of parchment paper, oiled side facing downwards, on top.
Roll the dough out very thinly between the 2 sheets of oiled baking parchment to make one large, thin, ragged-edged cracker that’s no more than 2-3mm thick. Lift off the top piece of parchment paper and transfer the bottom parchment paper with the dough still on it onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with half the salt flakes.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, checking occasionally, until completely dry and the outer edges are starting to curl up.
Take out of the oven and leave to cool before removing the parchment paper.
Repeat the rolling out process with the second piece of dough and bake as before.
When the crackers are cool and crispy, carefully break them into largish pieces.
Spread with a generous amount of butter and eat with cheese for the ultimate low-carb cheese and biscuit experience.
Because ready-ground flaxseed (also known as linseed) does not have a long shelf life it’s best to grind your own whole flaxseeds in a coffee grinder immediately before use. If you don’t have a coffee mill, buy ready-ground flaxseed in small quantities and use within the best before date.
Raw, organic macadamia nuts and macadamia nut oil are very expensive and not easy to source. Luckily, macadamias are low in pesticides even if conventionally grown. They’re hands-down my favourite nuts both for snacking and cooking. I love them most for their light, buttery taste, which makes cold-pressed macadamia oil perfect for drizzling and homemade mayonnaise because unlike olive and avocado oil, it doesn’t overpower. Macadamia nut oil is also highly shelf-stable and resistant to heat induced oxidation. This makes it safe for sautéing, frying and baking at higher temperatures because there’s no danger of free radicals and deadly trans fatty acids forming as they do with other cooking oils at high temperatures. High-fat, macadamia nuts have more omega-3 and less omega-6 fat than any other nuts, they lower LDL blood cholesterol and being exceptionally high in fat can help to make you thinner! I think they’re worth the expense but it you prefer, use organic olive oil or coconut oil for this recipe instead.
A non-stick silicone sheet placed under the dough before rolling out is even better than oiled baking parchment because it stays perfectly flat during baking.
Fat 20g Protein 9g Carbs 8g - based on 4 generous servings (surprisingly satisfying!)