5 Day Challenge: Day 1 – Crisps & Crackers

Day 1:

TODAY WE’RE TALKING: Crisps & Crackers

Processed packaged food is so commonplace that we’re more used to seeing children eating store bought crackers and crisps than carrots and cucumber in the playground.

The problem with this is that these highly processed foods generally contain a variety of additives and preservatives that have been linked to a wide range of issues from behavioural problems, headaches, restless legs, hyperactivity, eczema, dermatitis, asthma, depression and much more.

Today we’re going to look at options with crackers and crisps – from ingredients to steer clear of to what makes an ideal convenience product in this area.

What’s in the food we’re feeding our kids?

Become a label detective: Yes sorry but you really can’t rely on front of pack labelling as it can be so misleading – especially if you’re in NZ or Australia with the ridiculous Health Star Rating system.


Ingredients in a popular brand of crackers:

Wheat Flour, Vegetable oil, Cheese (Contains: Milk), Cornflour (Maize), Salt, Milk Solids, Vegetables (Onion Powder, Garlic Powder), Yeast, Maltodextrin (Maize), Vegetable Extracts (Contains Soy, Wheat), Flavour Enhancers (E621, E635), Sugar, Flavour, Baking Powder, Yeast Extract, Bacon, Spices, Food Acids (E330, E327, E3270), Emulsifiers (Soy Lecithin), Food Colours (E120, E163), Mineral Salt (E500), Antioxidants (E300, E307b from Soy, E304), Rosemary Extract.

  • Vegetable oil – highly processed oil and often genetically modified source. Unlike olive oil, it isn’t cold-pressed. To refine it, a solvent is used to extract the oil from rapeseed which is later evaporated off. That’s followed by neutralisation, bleaching, winterisation and de-odourisation steps, as with other industrial seed oils.
  • Yeast Extract – contains naturally occurring glutamates (MSG).
  • E621 – MSG –  The evidence on MSG is one huge mass of conflicting studies, anecdotal evidence, food industry dishonesty, and unconvincing government reassurances. Many people choose to avoid MSG and it is linked to a host of problems.
  • E635 – This is a ribonucleotide a salty food additive which is associated with “ribo rash” an irritable itchy rash.
  • Natural Flavour – Again opinions diverge on safety of natural flavours. But one thing is certain the flavours are not so natural as many consumers understand that term. MSG is a “natural flavor,” and so are other additives like castoreum (a vanilla flavour made from the anal sacs of beavers). Then again, “natural flavour” can be as simple as salt and pepper. Without calling the manufacturer of the food, there’s no way to actually tell what “natural flavour” is, so unless you’re willing to do some research, it’s a safe bet to avoid it.
  • Colour 120 (red) – Associated with allergic and hyper-sensitive reactions, asthma, skin irritations.
  • Rosemary Extract – A “clean-label” substitute for antioxidants (E300-21), such as butylhydroxyanisole (BHA).


Aim for products with 5 ingredients or less. The best packet crackers I see have 2 ingredients: rice + salt and the best crisps have 3: potatoes + oil + salt.

Prefer packets that don’t use flavour enhancers, antioxidants, preservatives, colours, GMO or palm oil (unless noted to be sustainable palm oil). Try to avoid industrial seed oils (hard to do this they’re everywhere in packet foods!) and added flavours.


Consider something other than crackers or crisps: Popcorn,seaweed & biltong – make good alternatives. 


Additives & Preservatives Cheat Sheet

YOUR CHALLENGE TODAY IS:  Resolve to stop buying crackers and crisps filled with flavour enhancers, preservatives, colours, palm oil or other unnecessary fillers. Buy local if you can.*

YOUR BONUS CHALLENGE: Get into the kitchen and have a go making your own crackers and crisps (chips). Share your pics with us on the Facebook page: #packetfreefebruary #domskitchen

* There are a few companies are making products that avoid many or all of the most problematical ingredients. Here in New Zealand we have seen good products from Ceres Organics (crackers and seaweed), Serious (organic popcorn), Proper (crisps). These are not blanket endorsements you need to check the backs of all packets as even from one company you can get very different products and companies vary their ingredients often.


You can use Sweet potatoes (or potatoes), Kale, Carrots & parsnips. Make sure you use a healthy fat to cook the chips in – coconut, macadamia or olive oil are our favourites but lard/tallow good too. Here are some recipes to try:


Make a note of these fantastic resources and catch up on some great documentaries and books.


How was your day one? Got a question? Head over to the Dom’s Kitchen Challenge Chat Facebook group and add it today’s post or add your question at the comment section of this post. Feel free to email me with any questions you may have as well!

Don’t forget! Share your recipe creations or lunch boxes in the FB group here. Remember we have cool spot prizes.

Claire Deeks

Real Food Advocate For Families