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March 17, 2003

Lenten Fasting Tips

 

For many Greek Orthodox, Lent is a time for fasting. Even if you've never fasted for Lent, you've probably seen your yiayia or maybe your mother do it, and maybe thought to yourself that it was probably years of fasting that made yiayia too short to ride the roller coasters at Kings Dominion or Six Flags. It's hard to envision yourself giving up meat and dairy for 40 days plus Holy Week, particularly in a day and age of frequent eating out, snacking on processed foods with ingredient lists a half mile long, and trying to eat enough calories to get you through a 60 hour work week. But if you ever decided you wanted to try fasting for Lent, here's a few tips to get you through. 

1) Fast at your own pace... 

If you've never fasted before, or if you don't feel like depriving yourself totally during Lent, perhaps a more relaxed fast is for you. Catholics usually don't eat meat on Fridays and allow for fish, which would allow you to go to McDonalds and get their Filet o' Fish sandwich and fries every Friday for lunch. If you feel like that's not enough, try fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays. If you think you can do without meat, just skip meat for the whole time and leave in the diary. Even if you're going to give up meat and dairy, if you don't want to spend an hour and a half in the grocery store, just reading labels, go with the two line or 2% rule. Many packaged foods have some sort of dairy in them. (whey is an ingredient often found in cookies, crackers, and other snacks that takes them off the list of foods you can eat.) To avoid nixing everything, stop reading at the part where it reads, "Contains less than 2% of the following..." or after the second line. Trust us, you'll be a lot happier and you wont go blind from reading too much fine print. 

2) Why God invented Peanut Butter... 

To some people out there, the thought of eating peanut butter past the age of ten is a little hard to swallow.  But when you're hungry and you don't want to take the time to fix yourself a salad for the fifth time in two days, peanut butter is the perfect way to make it through 40 days. It goes well on fruit or bread, is high in protein so you don't lose 15 pounds in muscle, it doesn't spoil, and best of all it's cheap. And when you add it to another Lenten miracle, Hershey's Chocolate Syrup, you might even fool yourself into thinking that you're eating a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. 

3) Go Ethnic... 

Lent is a good time to try those often neglected Ethnic foods like guacamole, humus, tabouli, Thai food, and Indian food. In fact if you are ever wondering if you can eat something, particularly when eating out, ask a Hindu. Our friend Sanjay's parents were the first to break the story that McDonald's French fries used to be or still are flavored with beef powder, and that Pizza Hut's pizza sauce had meat flavoring in it as well. 

4) Go Spicy…

When you can't have meat or cheese, try adding jalapenos or hot sauce or anything else spicy to your otherwise boring bowl of lentil soup or veggie sub from Subway. The heartburn alone will make you not want to eat anything else for hours, thus tiding you over until the next morning. 

5) Oh Boy, Soy!

It's incredible what the processors of soybeans can make look and taste like meat and dairy these days. Perhaps the best use of the soybean is for soymilk, particularly the chocolate or vanilla flavored varieties. 8th Continent's Chocolate flavored soymilk tastes just like you are drinking a chocolate milkshake, but for everyday use on cereal, we recommend Silk's Vanilla flavor. Watch out for many soy products that try to pass themselves off as meat, because they'll have eggs in them, and are not quite meatless. We're just upset that they've never tried to make soy into Greek items, like a nice soyros sandwich with tsoytziki or a delicious soyvlaki. 

So there you have some suggestions on how to fast for Lent. If you have any tips, menu items, recipes, or good restaurants with a variety of Lenten options, drop us a line at [email protected], and we'll share them with everyone in the days and weeks ahead. 
 

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