We love crackers. We can eat a whole box in one sitting. And like many health-conscious readers, we like to think we're eating better by tossing back a box of Wheat Thins over a bag of potato chips. After all, how bad can crackers be?
Unfortunately, pretty bad. Although crackers are baked, not fried, and many are now made with whole grains, most brands are just receptacles for empty calories. They're full of sugar, sodium, and artery-clogging fat, but devoid of protein, fiber, heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants – or anything else that would fill you up or give you a modicum of nutrition alongside all that waist-expanding energy.
There are a few wonderful exceptions in an otherwise crowded morass of nutritionally void, rectangular wheat products. And the best among them may just be FiberGourmet's Half Calorie Crackers (soon to be called a more socially shareable "Thinables").
Similar in taste, texture, and size to Wheat Thins, Half Calorie Crackers have the huge advantage that their moniker so clearly suggests: They have half the calories of regular crackers, or 70 per handful (30 grams), compared to 140 found in the same amount of Wheat Thins. Yet the real health kicker here isn't calories, but fiber: One 70-calorie serving has 12 grams of the gut-filling stuff, which is 10 more than Wheat Thins. This heavy wallop adds bulk to the intestinal track to increase feelings of fullness, while helping regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol, and prevent chronic disease like diabetes.
Half Calorie Crackers come in three flavors: original, everything, and cinnamon & sugar. All three have a pleasantly bland wheat-flour taste – the Cinnamon & Sugar has a sweet-salty kick similar to kettle corn, while the everything tastes mildly like the bagel of the same name. And although Half Calorie Crackers aren't as salty, greasy, or addictive as Wheat Thins, they won't induce you to eat a whole box in one sitting, in part because of their fiber (and also because each box is divided into six individual bags of 70-calorie servings, helping to prevent mindless snacking).
FiberGourmet, which also makes low-cal, high-fiber pasta and cake mixes, can be difficult to find, but the hunt is worth the reward. Look for Half Calorie Crackers at specialty health food stores and Hy-Vee markets in the Midwest, or see a complete list of retailers by state at fibergourmet.com. One box retails for $3.50 to $4.