Great Snack Experiment: Non-Animal Crackers and Granola Bars

>> Sunday, March 7, 2010

Aldi has the best animal crackers in the whole world. Normally, I don't snack during the day, but sometimes I can't help myself with Aldi's animal crackers. So in my attempt to make all of our food from scratch last month, one of the first recipes I went looking for was an animal cracker recipe.

I was inspired by this recipe for Animal Cracker Cookies from 101 Cookbooks. In a dream world, I would also own those animal cookie cutters from Williams and Sonoma, but in reality, I am both too cheap and too lazy to bother shaping the crackers into animal shapes. So we call them Non-Animal Crackers. Of all the cracker recipes I tried this month, these are the only ones my kids have requested that I make again. That should give you a pretty good indication of their tastiness.

Non-Animal Crackers

MAKES: 2 dozen cookies
COST: $2.99 with coconut oil ($2.25 with butter)*

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup walnuts (ground in a food processor or chopped very fine)
1/2 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut (also ground in a food processor or chopped very fine)
1/4 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, softened (butter can be substituted, but will affect the taste)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • In a medium bowl, cream together the coconut oil, sugar, and salt. Beat in the egg.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour, walnuts, and coconut.
  • Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture.
  • Knead the dough a couple times until it forms a ball.
  • Divide the ball in half, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • The original recipe suggests lining your baking sheets with parchment paper. Since I don't have parchment paper, I just greased my pans, and I didn't have a problem with sticking. But if you have parchment paper, you might as well use it.
  • Roll each ball of dough out until it is 1/8 inch thick. Cut into cracker shapes (or animal shapes if you're adventurous) and place on baking sheets.
  • Bake 7 or 8 minutes until lightly browned at the edges.

I packed the non-animal crackers in Third Son's lunch for church (our congregation meets at a strange time). His nursery leader snuck a bite, and then emailed me for the recipe. In exchange, she sent me the following recipe for granola bars, which have been a huge hit around here:

Granola Bars

MAKES: 2 dozen
COST: $4.50 before adding extra goodies*

3 1/2 cups folled oats
1 cup Rice Krispies (or other cereal, or just more oats)
1 cup wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup honey
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup extra goodies of your choice (raisins, dried apples, chocolate chips, etc.)
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 X 13 inch dish.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except chocolate chips. Then stir in the chocolate chips, if using.
  • Firmly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely before removing from the pan.
*Note that all costs are estimates based on prices in my area and that I use organic ingredients whenever possible. Your costs may vary.

This post stems from my experiment in February to stop buying store-bought crackers and make my own snacks from scratch. For other snack ideas, check out Parmesan Crackers and Pretzels and Bagels and Breadsticks Oh My!


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Lina March 9, 2010 at 10:15 PM  

Ooh, these look fun, I'm totally trying them. I recently tried the granola bars from smitten kitchen ( and they were good but too crumbly.

Have you ever made graham crackers? That's the other thing I want to try but haven't gotten up the gumption to try yet.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper March 10, 2010 at 8:07 PM  

@Lina - These granola bars held together well for me the first time, but the second time I made them, a few were crumbly. I think I didn't press them into the pan well enough in some spots or maybe should have cooked them a couple minutes longer. My kids like them a lot.

I tried graham crackers once a year ago, and no one in my family would eat them. I should try them again with a different recipe. Let me know if you find a good one!

Jen - Balancing Beauty and Bedlam March 11, 2010 at 9:12 AM  

I was just going to make home made granola bars. I am going to have to see how our recipes differ ...maybe I can combine the two. Mine doesn't have rice krispies but I love that addition. :)

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