Knekkebrød; the world’s healthiest food?

January is a symbol of new beginnings and new hope; a chance to start fresh and forget about yesterday’s less than perfect behavior. We seek to improve our daily habits, and most of us focus on bettering our health and our physique.  This is the month when people swear off sweets, alcohol and fatty foods, and start searching for better alternatives to breakfast, lunch and dinner.  But it’s also the time of year that signifies it’s time to get back to the daily grind and resume our routines of work and normal eating.

True Norwegian food has always been healthy, made up of wholesome ingredients, utilizing a lot of good protein such as fish (salmon, cod) and lean meat like venison and other game, whole grains and vitamin rich vegetables, while using cooking method utilizing very little fat; boiling, steaming or baking. Even though I grew up in a household with a mother who was a fantastic cook, I feel that Norwegians prioritize to eat to feed a purpose, rather than indulging.  Knekkebrød, or ‘crisp bread’ plays an important and central part of the Norwegian diet and is a food most Norwegians swear to.  Not only when trying to minimize carbs, sugar and fat, but also include it as a tasty alternative to cereal or regular bread for breakfast, as well as an easy item to pack for lunch. Often topped with brunost,  as covered in my last post, or white cheese with slices of bell pepper, tomatoes and/or cucumbers, the crisps are rich in fiber, which makes them filling, and provide very little calories (a slice contains around 20-30 calories).  Typically made of whole grains like rye flour, oats and seeds, it is a wonderful addition to any person craving some starch in their diet while avoiding excess consumption of carbohydrates.  Aside from its health benefits, it’s easy to understand why knekkebrød is so popular; it can last for a long time if stored properly,  it’s easy to prepare, while versatile and satisfying.  In a recent poll only 1 out of 10 Norwegians said they do not eat crisp bread.

 Knekkebrød isn’t Norwegian by origin but was created by our Swedish neighbors, who founded the well known brand Wasa, the largest producer of crisp bread in the world. But because it’s such a staple in all Scandinavian countries, including Norway, we regard it as our “own” food as well.  In Norway, we have a widely popular brand called Kavli,  much thinner than Wasa,  available everywhere in the U.S. as well.  These days, there are endless varieties and brands, containing different flour types, grains, spices and seeds.

But why buy these crackers when you can easily make your own?!  As we all can agree upon, home made food tastes SO much better, partly because the sense of accomplishment we get from making our food from scratch.  While I don’t profess to have the best ever recipe for crisp bread, I certainly have a pretty damn good one!  Tasty and super simple to whip up, I think and hope you will be happy you took the time out to test these out!  I enjoy them topped with “eggerøre” (scrambled eggs) and chives, smoked salmon and cream cheese, pickled herring w/a thin spread of mustard, cheese and pickles or even salami and sliced cucumbers!

KNEKKEBRØD

1 3/4 cups rye flour

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup flaxseed

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1 tsp salt

2 tsp sugar

3 cups water

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl and pour the water over, mixing it in. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before pouring the batter on to the two baking sheets.  Using a spatula, spread the batter evenly across the baking sheets. Before placing in oven, using a knife, outline about 20 squares/slices in the batter, as it’s easier to break them into serving pieces after they are out of the oven. Bake them in the oven at 40 minutes, turning the sheets around once after 20 minutes. Turn off oven after 40 min, then bake for 10 minutes with the oven door slightly ajar. Lastly, let the crisp breads sit in oven w/door shut for another 10 minutes. Make sure you keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Take them out and place onto a cooling rack. Break them into pieces right away. If some of them are not crisp enough, just put them back into the oven to dry them out some more. You can keep the crisps in a jar or airtight container.

knekkebrod

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