Great Lent 2017

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For my Orthodox friends participating in Great Lent (or anyone else who may be interested), I have here the general fasting guidelines for Great Lent and Holy Week, along with some tips for simple snacks & meals for those of you who maybe don’t like to cook, or are generally intimidated by Lenten limitations. I would like to note, however: These are the general fasting guidelines. Personal fasting rules may vary, and you should really consult your spiritual father if you have any questions regarding your own fasting rule. I am not an authority on this matter! But I do hope this will be helpful.

The general guidelines for Great Lent are as follows:

From Monday, February 27, 2017 until Great & Holy Pascha (Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017)
Monday – Friday, we abstain from all meat, eggs, dairy, fish, oil & wine
Saturday & Sunday, oil & wine are permitted

Fish is permitted on the Feast of Annunciation, and on Palm Sunday.

Clean Week
The first week of Great Lent is known as Clean Week. Interestingly, the actual rule for Monday – Wednesday is a complete fast from foods, breaking the fast for a Lenten meal after Presanctified Liturgy Wednesday evening; however, there is a Greek custom to have a sort of mini celebration on Clean Monday. People go to the park to fly kites and have [Lenten] picnics, and enjoy a special bread called lagana which is typically only made on this one day each year. This is in response to Matthew 6:17-18, “But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Both traditions are wonderful. The strict fast is generally more of a monastic rule, while those in the world will often simply cut back and have only one meal in the evening.

Holy Week
The Thursday evening meal is ideally the last meal taken until Pascha. At this meal, wine and oil are permitted. The Fast of Great and Holy Friday is the strictest fast day of the year: even those who have not kept a strict Lenten fast are strongly urged not to eat on this day. After Saint Basil’s Liturgy on Holy Saturday, a little wine and fruit may be taken for sustenance. The fast is broken on Saturday night after after the Divine Liturgy on Pascha.
(Holy Week guidelines taken from AbbaMoses.com)

Great Lent isn’t only about food, but this is a food blog so that’s what I’m working with here. Saint John Chrysostom can tell you everything else you need to know. I also try to post inspirational quotes from the Fathers and saints, as well as liturgical hymns and other texts, each day during Lent. I have put together a collection of links to these posts on the Orthodox Stuff page.

You can visit the Recipe Index to find most of my recipes, including a whole section of Oil Free stuff.

Now, in case you don’t like to cook…

Store Bought Items
Ezekiel Bread and Thomas’ brand Traditional Bagels are Lenten and oil-free. Great for PB&J sandwiches, or use the the plain, onion, or everything bagels to make a nice veggie sandwich.

SuperPretzel brand frozen soft pretzels are Lenten, without oil. While I hate to even mention it…one of my guilty pleasures, Nissan brand Top Ramen noodles, are Lenten – the Oriental and Chili flavors (and Shrimp since it’s shellfish).

If you’re celebrating a birthday during Lent, many fruit pies are made without eggs or dairy. Or just serve Birthday Cake Oreos!

Although they are expensive, if you really must, you can find vegan cheese at local health food stores. Daiya is a nice brand that is made without soy, and melts better than most other brands.
For veggies burgers, I recommend Qrunch brand. They’re made with quinoa instead of soy, and they taste wonderful (they don’t taste like meat, but they taste GOOD). They come in a variety of flavors, and are available at Target, Meijer, Whole Foods, and Horrock’s so far.
There are tons of milk alternatives available, not just soy! Almond, rice, coconut, cashew, and hemp are a few. Plain unsweetened almond milk tends to be the best for cooking & baking savory foods.
Replace butter with Earth Balance or Smart Balance, the Light Buttery Spread with Flaxseed Oil flavor. Alternatively, you can sometimes use tahini to replace butter/oil – check out this recipe for Tahini Garlic Bread, and this recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies.

You can use Ener-G Egg Replacer in cookies, or a combination of baking powder and vinegar for cakes and sweet breads. Mashed bananas can also be used. Canned coconut milk can replace oil in cakes.

Other Ideas
Steamed veggies and baked potatoes with tahini sauce, dry roasted nuts, fresh or dried fruit, pita bread with olives and hummus, veggie sushi. Many cereals are Lenten, try them dry or with a milk alternative (or with orange juice, that’s how my Tete and sister do it. Can’t say I’m really a fan of that, though). Ants on a log, bananas or apples with peanut butter or other nut butters.

For days when oil is permitted, you can make a quick dinner of angel hair pasta with olive oil, salt, garlic & parsley, maybe add some sauteed onions and broccoli. Serve it with garlic bread made with margarine or oil, and a salad on the side. You can make any cream of [insert vegetable] soup by replacing the dairy milk with a non-dairy beverage (a plain, unsweetened variety, of course).
Indian curries are nice and can be made with or without the oil.

Try adding nuts to your meals to help fill you up. Carbs are wonderful, but too much will give you a sugar buzz and you’ll just end up feeling sluggish later. Beans & legumes are full of protein and iron, try to eat them once a day. A hot meal in the morning, like oatmeal, cream of wheat, or teff porridge, will give you a little boost – especially in wintertime.

0 thoughts on “Great Lent 2017

  1. I love your blog!!
    I have been Orthodox Christian since May 19th, 2001.
    May God bless you and your efforts this Holy Week and all the weeks to come!!

  2. A person from the Ancient Faith Radio chatroom sent me to this blog. I’m still sorting through all of it. I don’t know if you answer questions of this sort but I guess I’m about to find out.
    For Lent I often eat Progresso Lentil soup and Cambell’s Vegetarian vegetable soup but I find both quite bland. I thought that was just the way it was supposed to taste. A woman at our church served me some of her own Lentil soup and it was outstanding so I concluded it IS possible for Lentil soup to actually have flavor. So I’m asking what you would do to Progresso Lentil soup and Cambell’s Vegetarian Vegetable soup to add to their flavor.
    Thanks in advance for you insight into this.

    • Hi Robin!
      Are you in an Antiochian parish? If so, I bet this woman had plenty of lemon juice in her soup – I usually add lemon to canned lentil soup myself. With veggie soup I usually simply add more vegetables, pretty much anything with added salt will do (make sure you drain it).
      If you’re using the canned soup for convenience, you might try instead making a batch of soup mix using Bob’s Red Mill brand Green Pea Flour. You’ll find it in my recipe index. You can adjust the ingredients to your liking.

      Good luck! And I LOVE getting questions, ask away!!

      • She’s Greek from Karpathos. Very Greek and she runs a restaurant. I had a bowl of her soup complemented her on it and told her I’d like to purchase some in quantity some time. She brings out two gallons and gives it to me refusing payment. Yup, she’s Greek alright. I’ll try the lemon juice and tell you if that’s what is making the difference.
        Still sorting through your blog. There’s a lot in here. Have a blessed lent.

        • Ooh, Greek lentil soup – okay, I did some quick research because I happened to be sitting next to my cookbook collection which includes three Greek cookbooks. It looks like the secret ingredient is actually vinegar! And a healthy dose of olive oil, along with a few cloves of finely minced garlic. I was imagining Syrian lentil soup, it’s a bit lighter.

          Anyway, it’s wonderful to meet you, and I wish you a blessed Lent as well!

          • Yup, I checked with her the other day and it is vinegar and olive oil as well as hot sauce. I tried adding these ingredients to the canned soup and it is an improvement but it is still lacking something. Now do you have any ideas on improving hummus so that it doesn’t taste…….. well like hummus?

          • Haha, umm….I’m not exactly sure what that means 🙂 BUT usually when hummus doesn’t taste very good, it’s because it doesn’t have enough salt, garlic, lemon or all three. Is this store bought hummus? That usually needs more lemon and garlic. It will always taste a little off because they tend to use citric acid, and put vegetable oil in it. Oh, and on weekends I’d drizzle olive over it.

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