December 22, 2010Read: Genesis 8

"When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth." --Genesis 8:11

It might seem odd on Christmas week to read about the flood, but if you live in sunny southern California, it's pretty appropriate. It won't stop raining. At all. Ever. Where's the nearest gopher wood vendor when you need him?

When Noah built the ark, those around him probably laughed and scoffed. But we all know the story. The ark was completed, then two-by-two, and then the rain (a lot of it). A year later, the dove returned to Noah carrying hope; the olive branch meant land was near.

You and I just might be going through a flood this week. Sure, maybe not a literal downpour of rain, but caught in a torrent all the same -- up to our knees in doubt, our waists in worry, and our necks in fear. An olive branch to grab onto right now would be nice, amen?

Well, it is Christmas week; a reminder that the hope we need came in human form. And those ten infant fingers and toes would eventually heal the broken, raise the dead and yes, calm storms. You know, if I'm not mistaken, I think it just stopped raining.



Boasting one of the most palate-pleasing crunches in the world of snack, crackers are a fantastic low-calorie food -- not to mention the perfect complement to your favorite calcium-loaded cube of cheese. Try one -- or both -- of these healthier home recipes to create a kindler, gentler cracker to tote along to your next social gathering.

Parmesan & Oregano Crackers

Makes 40 crackers

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour 1/2 all-purpose flour 1 stick unsalted butter, softened 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest (optional)

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F. Combine ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment – mix until dough forms. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 to 1/4 –inch thick and use a cookie cutter to cut into desired shapes. Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes. Set aside to cool. Package or serve.

Nutrition Info Per Cracker Calories: 32
; Total Fat: 2 grams; 
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
; Total Carbohydrate: 1.5 grams
; Protein: 1 gram
; Sodium: 49 milligrams; 
Cholesterol: 6 milligrams; 
Fiber: 0 grams

Homemade Whole Grain Crackers

Makes 40 crackers

2 whole wheat flour tortillas 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil Herbs and spices of choice (see ideas below) Cut tortilla into small squares. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with seasonings and bake at 350-degrees for  8 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Seasoning Ideas: Poppy seeds and sea salt (pictured above) Fresh rosemary and black pepper (pictured above) Garlic and chili powder Fresh thyme and sesame seeds

Nutrition Info Per Cracker Calories: 13
; Total Fat: 0.5 grams
; Saturated Fat: 0 gram
; Total Carbohydrate: 1 gram; 
Protein: 0 gram
; Sodium: 33 milligrams; 
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
; Fiber: 0 grams

>> GIFTING TIP: Serve up your homemade crackers with grapes, cheese and wine at your own house party or bring them along to the neighborhood potluck. Wrap them up in tins or decorative bags just like cookies, or give alongside homemade chutney.

PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.