Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lent is all about food- 7 Quick Takes

1. My husband says that the fast is nothing about food. It is about developing virtue. It is about attempting to reflect Christ's sacrifice through our sacrifice. It is about more prayer, more almsgiving, and more fasting from our passions. 
And of course, this is very true. I do think that one reason why Lent can become all about food ("I'm doing a black fast every day until Easter Sunday and all the kids will join me!" or "where's the nearest McDonald's? Filet of Fish Fridays! This is sooo hard!" or  "Rice Milk is a 'Pharisee food' and olive oil is forbidden as well") is that we are people with bodies like Christ but we have that sin-problem going for us as well. In the West, food is something we are confronted with about three times a day, so it is no surprise that it is the stepping stone or stumbling block on  our Lenten journey. 
But in a more beautiful way, Lent is all about food because we are all about the perfect food- the Holy Eucharist. Jesus invited us to remember Him always at the last supper through the consumption of most Holy and Pure Body and Blood. By abstaining from certain earthly foods during certain seasons and developing virtue, perhaps we are better able to worthily, through God's grace, receive the heavenly food which is His Eucharist.
--- O Lord, I believe and profess that you are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal your mystery to your enemies, nor will I give you a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to you: Remember me, O Lord, when you shall come into your kingdom.  May the partaking of your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body. O Lord, I also believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly your most precious Body and your life-giving Blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen.
2. The Mandatory Fast for Ruthenian Byzantine Catholics during the Great Fast (Lent): 
---Strict Fast (no meat, dairy) on Pure Monday (first day of Great Fast, Monday before Roman-rite Ash Wednesday) and on Great and Holy Friday
---Simple Fast (no meat) on all Wednesdays and Fridays of the Great Fast, including Holy Saturday before Easter Sunday

For Those Wishing to Follow the Ancient Fasting Regimen
---No Meat from Sunday of Meatfare (2 Sundays before Lent begins) till Easter Sunday
---No Dairy or Eggs from Sunday of Cheesefare (Sunday before Lent begins) until Easter Sunday
Of course, there are medical and age exceptions. Consult a faithful priest
3. Just like being Byzantine Catholic puts us 'between' Roman-rite Catholics and Orthodox, we as a family are 'in-between' with our fasting style. We fast from meat during Lent and are vegan on Wednesdays and Fridays. I keep doing the math of 40 days for Lent, making Sundays an oasis during the season. If every Friday is a 'little' Good Friday, every Sunday is a 'little' Easter Sunday. So I cook a chicken for Sundays.
4. I am looking forward to using my bag of Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum. I'm hoping it will make a good vegan binder (instead of egg) for black bean burgers and the potato-vegetable-curry patty made by Trader Joe's (freezer section!) that I am tempted to replicate. 
5. Give me some vegan ideas please! We know humus, beans and rice- it is time to get creative. I'm going to try this recipe; Thai curried chick peas with coconut rice-it looks yummy and if I go easy on the spice, the kids will like it.
6. Click on my label 'Lent' at the bottom of this post to read what else I have written on this subject. There's some recipes and other reflections from the past two years. 
One of my personal favorites is 'Meatless Meals for Manly Men'- comment here or there to give me and the readers more ideas!
7. But what if all this fasting helps one lose a little weight? Isn't that self-serving? Don't worry about it. God probably wants us to be healthy and live a longer life to serve Him anyways. Of course, Simcha said it better than I could with her recent post For God or Your Bod at the National Catholic Register. As I usually do (sometimes I don't), I agree with her.

edit: this post was inspired by the answers I got when I tweeted and facebooked the question- "Lent is coming! What are you doing?!" ALL of the answers were about food- abstaining, fasting, eating better foods, etc. This is fine, of course. We are living in a material world, and I am a material momma. Fasting can help us take hold of the 'material' and sanctify it. 

18 comments:

  1. Try sabich! http://herbivoracious.com/2008/04/recipe-sabich.html If you skip the hardbopiled eggs, it's vegan. It's also heavenly.

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  2. Love this post. I may show it to my non-Catholic husband who sometimes needs "fasting for Dummies" training. Some years he's awesome about it, some years he comes home with a side of beef on Friday! Have a blessed Lent!

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  3. I was actually hoping I might get some ideas from you for what to eat on my Lenten Fridays (I'm Latin rite Catholic)... I used to eat grilled cheese sandwiches, but now I'm on a no-dairy, no-gluten diet. I'll have to check out Hevel's link.

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  4. I have been ordering every vegan/vegetarian cookbook from the library, looking for toddler friendly vegan/vegetarian recipes for this Lent...which started last week. Unfortunately my husband (and ALL the other seminarians!) are sick and the rector has said that no one fasts until the stress level and the flu go away. So we are in this funny...fasting but not...phase. So far I found mild coconut curries with a variety of veg to be the best vegan for my kids. Here's a great crockpot vegetarian cookbook that has been useful. http://www.amazon.com/Gourmet-Vegetarian-Slow-Cooker-Sophisticated/dp/158008074X/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1360336136&sr=8-4&keywords=vegetarian+slow+cooker

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    1. I'll cook anything that works with my slow cooker!

      Here's a Romanian flu tonic- boil onions, add honey to the broth- drink it- it is so yucky you never get sick again because you can't stand to drink the onion-honey broth ;)

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  5. I remember aquinasandmore.com had a Lenten cookbook in its Eastern Catholic store but it's gone.

    For us Latin rite Catholics, we have to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays in Lent. I like salmon and shrimp.

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  6. Tofu! There are some fabulous tofu recipes! Also, my vegan friends use raw cashews blendered (i have to soak mine to be soft enough to blender) to add a 'creamy' texture to soups or 'creamy' salad dressings.

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    1. I love tofu- we eat soy only 1 time a week during not fasting seasons and up to 3 times during a fast because those scientists can't decide if it is good or bad for us long-term!

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  7. Here are some of my ideas form last year http://notlukewarm.blogspot.com/2012/02/7-quick-takes-meatless-meals.html

    I dislike meat in general, so we only eat veggies/beans on Fridays, since fish is not a penance for me at all:)

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  8. I would suggest getting the Engine 2 Diet book from the library - the back of the book has wonderful recipes that have all been delicious. The entire book is vegan AND oil free, so it's perfect for fasting.

    Also, there is a cookbook in the same line of thinking called Forks Over Knives. Another really good one.

    Appetite for Reduction is another reference. This one would have some oil in it, but is mostly fresh, healthy, and cheap vegan cooking.

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    1. Thanks for these resources! One book that is good is the Mennonite cookbook- Whole Foods for the Whole family

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  9. Hi, I've never understood why Eastern Catholics don't fast like the Orthodox. I'm sorry if that sounds like a judgmental question. I'm Orthodox and always assumed that the Eastern Catholics fasted like we do.

    As someone who tries to eat a "real food" diet, the fasts are always a challenge. Most vegan recipes I find online are full of fake foods that I don't eat anymore or things like soy. My DH is allergic to nuts and beans which are the best fasting protein sources. I basically end up cooking 3 different things; fasting foods for me, dairy/fish for DH since he doesn't eat nuts/beans and non-fasting kid food for our pre-schooler who is going through a "no vegetables!" phase. Needless to say, I'm not looking forward to Lent. But of course I know we all need Lent and it comes whether you're ready for it or not.

    I've been trying to go grain free recently but I don't know how to get through the fast without grains. I know there are some paleo Orthodox folks out there but I don't know how they do it.

    This year I want to explore using coconut milk during the fast. I've never tried it before and hope it adds a little variety to our diet. I'm curious about the Xanthum Gum. It doesn't fit the "would your grandmother have eaten it?" test but my non-Orthodox grandmothers wouldn't have fasted either. A good binder alternative to eggs would certainly make things easier. I could bake some quick breads and have them in the freezer for quick breakfasts.

    Sorry I don't have any good recipe ideas. Our favorite fasting meal is tossed whole wheat spaghetti with sauted spinach and roasted shrimp. If it's a non-oil day, I use coconut oil for the shrimp and spinach. Super easy and tastes yummy. On oil days, I sometimes make a cheeseless pizza using the whole wheat pizza crust recipe from the 100 Days of Real Food blog.

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    1. your spaghetti dish sounds good...I would add some garlic to the spinach (we eat lts of garlic here)

      about the Xantham gum- yes, it is not an old-fashioned food...but it is a 'natural' bacteria...I'll report back after I make the curry-potato-veggie burgers

      your first question has inspired a short post that I hope to publish today- I've been thinking about it!

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  10. As I understand it, the Great Fast is not really vegan: one is permitted to eat invertebrates. So it means bivalves (mussels, oysters, clams), crustaceans (prawns and lobsters) and cephalopods (octopus and squid) can all be eaten. This increases the options significantly. So there should be no problem with clam chowder (which my American friends tell me is very tasty). Gastropods such as snails, and insects such as locusts and witchetty grubs can also be eaten.

    Reading the above paragraph, I am not sure whether it sounds like a gourmand or Bear Grills is considering the menu. This reminds me of a story about Evelyn Waugh: he was visiting Ian Flemming in the Bahamas, and they we ordering lunch, and Waugh remembered that it was Friday. "Can't eat meat, being Friday. I'll have the Lobster Mornay".

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    1. Bear- this is how I make clam chowder (a thick soup)- saute bacon with onions, a bit of garlic, celery and carrots, add clams and peeled/cooked potato cubes, add evaporated milk along with a bit of cream and butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with parsley and paprika- very yummy- VERY NON-Lenten! ;)

      On the East coast, 'Manhattan' style clam chowder has a tomato base, maybe I'll try that...

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  11. Here's a vegan recipe/resource list you might use: all-creatures.org/recipes.html The site is run by some folks who believe that God commands vegetarianism and/or veganism. I disagree, but that's no reason not to use their recipes.

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    1. Thanks! I need all the ideas I can get (actually...maybe one of these Lents we'll eat the same thing every day- that would make a good penance!)

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