Nothing says toddler snack time like goldfish crackers. Next to Cheerios, these crackers are found in car seats, strollers and snack cups all across North America. And I get it. They’re easy, inexpensive, and kids are crazy about them.
But let’s not fool ourselves. Goldfish aren’t exactly nutrient dense.
So when my daughter discovered (and fell in love!) with these cute little crackers in her Sunday school class at church, I was pretty bummed.
Just as I did with my natural gummy bear recipe, I knew there had to be a way to make a healthy goldfish recipe.
Pepperidge Farm’s Goldfish Crackers ingredient list
Unbleached enriched wheat flour [flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin b2), folic acid], cheddar cheese [(pasteurized cultured milk, salt, enzymes), annatto], vegetable oils (sunflower, canola and/or soybean), contains 2 percent or less of: salt, yeast, sugar, spices, autolyzed yeast, leavening (monocalcium phosphate, ammonium bicarbonate, baking soda) and onion powder.
Enriched flour is one of my pet peeves. It really isn’t necessary to give our kids synthetic forms of vitamins unless they’re malnourished or in very poor health (and even then, it’s questionable how beneficial they are).
Could I create a healthy goldfish cracker recipe?
While I don’t like my kids snacking too often since it interferes with their mealtime appetites, I decided to accept the culinary challenge.
When you really break it down, the goldfish recipe consists of:
- Flour (there are more healthy types)
- Cheese (real cheese can be nutritious)
- and some kind of fat (we know there are healthy fats out there!)
Yes, I could!
I stumbled upon this recipe from Erin of Dinners, Dishes and Desserts and started tinkering in the kitchen to create a goldfish recipe that would make my daughter happy.
I decided to use cassava flour. This is a new Paleo darling that acts just like regular wheat or white flour in recipes (unlike almond and/or coconut). It’s also grain-free, gluten-free, and nut-free, which is great for those food allergies or compromised gut function.
Of course, there are plenty of organic, even grass-fed, cheeses that fit the bill. I like using a cheddar cheese to recreate the flavor of Goldfish. You can even use Sharp Cheddar for a stronger bite. Cheese is high in calcium, vitamin D, and good fat for growing kids.
Speaking of fat, I use organic butter since it bakes so well and is stable at room temperature. You could probably use refined coconut oil (that doesn’t have the coconut flavor) as an alternative. Despite what you may have of heard about saturated fats, these foods have nourished humankind for thousands of years. Breastmilk and colostrum, nature’s perfect and most nutrient-dense first food for baby, is over 50% saturated fat! So this is a great food for kids. Pastured butter is also high in butyric acid, which support the digestive tract and microbiome. Butter is also rich in vitamins A, D, and even K2.
How could I get that bright yellow color? Turmeric!
With the above mentioned ingredients, my goldfish recipe dough was more of a tannish color. So how could I match the bright yellow of traditional goldfish?
I added turmeric and, bingo, my crackers were starting to look like the real thing! What a happy coincidence, since turmeric is such an amazing superfood (check out our golden milk recipe to see why we love it). This ancient spice is one of the most studied in the world for its many health benefits. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is outstanding for reducing overall inflammation in the body. Turmeric is also extremely high in antioxidants, which support the body and ward off disease and premature aging. *Keep in mind that it does give the crackers a flavor. I would recommend only using 1 TB total if your child doesn’t like a curry-like taste.
DIY Goldfish Mold
Finally, I had Michael, aka Papa Natural, cut out a goldfish shape from an aluminum La Croix can to finish the look.
Alternatively, you could just cut the dough into square crackers a la Cheez Its :), which would be much easier and less time consuming.
Healthy Goldfish Recipe
- 1 cup of cassava flour (where to buy). (You could also use any whole grain flour.)
- 8 ounces organic cheddar cheese
- 4 TB organic butter
- 5 TB of water
- 1 TB of olive oil
- 3/4 tsp. of sea salt (where to buy)
- 2 TB of turmeric (optional)* Use only 1 TB if you want the health benefits of turmeric but don’t want a strong flavor.
- A toothpick (optional)
- Grate cheddar cheese and put into food processor
- Cut up butter into small cubes and add to food processor
- Add flour, salt, turmeric, and olive oil
- Blend in food processor until a dough starts to form
- Slowly add in 5 TB of water and continue to blend
- Scoop out your dough and put in covered dish
- Let dough chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes
Once this is done, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Take out your dough and pat out flat to about 1/8 inch thick. You can use a roller pin, but I found it stuck too much and was easier with hands. (In subsequent batches, I used a kombucha bottle as a roller pin and it worked great!)
Cut into squares or use your DIY goldfish mold. Use toothpick to add eyes and smiles to your crackers (optional). Put shaped crackers onto baking sheet and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.
This recipe makes about 100 goldfish. I usually like to double and make a bigger amount, as they go fast! Store sealed in cool, dry place. Eat within 7 days.
There you have it – a healthy (and sure, high maintenance) snack for kids
Who knew kids would love turmeric so much? Even my son’s friend, who was used to the real thing, told me these were “delicious.” His mom even texted me, saying that he kept asking about these crackers. So there you have it! Kid-approved, healthy goldfish!
How about you?
Do your kids like goldfish crackers? What healthy snacks do you like to give your kids? Share with us in the comments below!