Periods of abstinence and fasting are recognized by most of the world’s religions; some are seasonal, others are permanent prohibitions. Dietary concerns are also a reason to abstain from certain foods and doctors recognize that a strict fast (clear liquids only) clears the digestive tract. Christians have long observed the period of forty days before Easter as Great Lent or the Great Fast. The cross of fasting, abstinence and physical discipline is carried in preparation for the feast of feasts on Easter.
Fasting is but one facit of a personal path of prayer and repentance. It is a very personal discipline spanning a wide spectrum from simple abstinence to a vegetarian or vegan diet to an even stricter ascetic regime, but most denominations have guidelines or goals. In all Christian denominations fasting means restricting ones food intake. Roman Catholics observe lent by abstaining from eating meat on Fridays, and eating only one large meal on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Orthodox Christians observe Great Lent with a fast of no meat, dairy products, fish or oil. On most Saturdays and Sundays wine and oil is allowed. Fish is allowed on certain feast days and shellfish is allowed on all days. Many people intensify fasting the first week of Great Lent and during Holy Week which tacked on after the last week of Great Lent just for good measure. For Orthodox Christians the Sunday that begins the fast is Cheese Fare Sunday. This is the last day to eat dairy products. Meat Fare Sunday was the previous week, when the freezers were cleared of all the meat and the last bit was eaten at the agape meal.
Fasting may seem like an odd subject for a foodie but with hundreds of millions of people fasting in the world, there are many, many great Lenten recipes out there regardless of your religious or dietary needs. Below are some ideas for Lenten recipes and substitutions for dairy products. Please log on and share your recipes with our world-wide family. Our goal is to have 40 new Lenten recipes in 40 days.
Butter: Many margarines have dairy products, some that don’t include Smart Balance and Earth Balance. Earth Balance, a vegan margarine, works better than most in baking. In most recipes substitute that same amount of margarine for the butter.
Fruit – Use applesauce, pureed pumpkin, pureed pineapple, pureed pears, strained baby food fruit or pureed prunes. Use ½ cup pureed fruit to replace 1 cup of butter. For baking reduce the sugar to account for the sugar content in the fruit.
Milk – Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Rice Milk or Coconut milk.
- 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. potato starch
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed potatoes
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or squash
- 1 egg = 1/4 cup puréed prunes
- 1 egg= 1 banana
- 1 egg=1/4 cup pureed tofu
- 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed simmered in 3 Tbsp. water
When using substitutions, do not expect the same finished product that you would get using real butter and egg. The texture and taste will be slightly different.
Not sure if dairy is in a product? Look at the ingredient label. If any of these words are listed, the product probably contains dairy:
- evaporated milk
- condensed milk
- dried milk
- powdered milk
- milk solids
Also beware of foods labeled "non-dairy," such as powdered coffee creamers and whipped toppings. These foods usually contain an ingredient called sodium caseinate, expressed as "caseinate" or "milk derivative" on the label, that may contain low levels of dairy.
If you are an Orthodox Christian fasting for Great Lent please be aware of this wonderful website http://www.lenten-season.com/
For more information on Roman Catholic fasting http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=180
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