Recipes, Food, and Fasting in the Orthodox Church

nagareboshi

Sparrow
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, members are routinely encouraged to abstain from milk, cheese, oil, wine, meat, and fish, in various combinations, during various circumstances, including religious seasons or as acts of penance.

I have been reading also about ancient Canons of the Holy Fathers, and am familiar too with dietary feats from the Desert Fathers. I am also told that eating "uncooked raw food" or "only bread for an entire day" are also spiritual accomplishments that are beneficial to soul and body. When I see a Desert Father monk was "subsisting only on vegetables", the impression is not that he was eating a delicious mashed potatoes with onions and carrots, but rather some leafy vegetables and boiled plant-roots.

My question is for people who live faithful and true lives within the Orthodox Church and her fasting lifestyles. What sort of recipes and foods do you actually eat, in real life, as a non-monk? I would be particularly interested in observing the differences between Old World immigrants and New World converts.

I also heard that the general principle is not to avoid specific foods, but to avoid the spirit of luxury. So I would assume that eating a very delicious coconut smoothie and avocado toast with black pepper, even though it does not contain prohibited foods, may violate the spirit of its fast due to its costliness and luxury taste.
 
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PaulC

Robin
I read something from an Orthodox priest once that changed my way of thinking on the issue. (I don't recall the author, sorry.) He said that rather than trying to pick and choose what seems luxurious to you, just keep it simple and follow the fasting guidelines provided by the church and your priest. This would avoid legalism and being prideful of our fasting.

He also stated that the simple fact of eating differently during the fast, using a different creamer for example or eating lobster if you usually would not, would be a constant reminder of the fast and God. Hope this is helpful to you.

(Disclaimer: I am not any sort of authority, and am not Orthodox yet. I hope I'm not out of my lane posting this, just wanted to share.)
 

Eusebius Erasmus

Woodpecker
This is a good subject, and it is too bad it hasn't had more traction.

When I comes to fast days, I have a few staples:

1. Bagels.

2. Indian food.

3. Beans.

4. Vegan substitutes (vegan sausages, vegan cheese, almond milk, oat milk, etc.).

5. Vegan muffins.


The question I have for folks here is this: how do you fast in a healthy way? It's easy to put on weight during the fast by consuming more carbs.
 

OrthoLeaf

Pigeon
The question I have for folks here is this: how do you fast in a healthy way? It's easy to put on weight during the fast by consuming more carbs.
The rule of thumb given by St. Paisios is to leave the table still hungry. If you're gaining weight, I can only imagine it's because you're consuming too much food and thus defeating the purpose of the fast. There is no use in fasting, if you're just going to increase your carb intake to replace your meat/fat intake. The first solution here, in my opinion, would just be to cut your current fasting meal in half. Personally, I just prefer to abstain from food entirely on the wed, fri fasts, and only eat on the weekends during the fasting seasons. That said, I'm not a dietician or a spiritual authority.
 

DanielH

Pelican
Fruit and peanut smoothies. Almost half of the smoothie is peanuts. One of those a day. There's some research that ties peanuts to weight loss. I lost over 10 pounds over the Nativity Fast eating 3 meals a day and a large amount was peanuts. Be careful with peanut butter - a lot of it has soybean oil and added sugars which are totally unnecessary. You can make your own peanut butter fairly easily. Ask your priest his opinion on milk substitutes. Mine is against it.
 

Pdalion

Pigeon
With the passing of Cheesfare Sunday a question regarding the fast has presented itself. Ideally I would have managed so that my fridge would be empty of perishable non fasting foods, but I have not.
Is it a sin to throw this food away? Should I consume it and continue in the fast once these are done?
 

OrthoLeaf

Pigeon
With the passing of Cheesfare Sunday a question regarding the fast has presented itself. Ideally I would have managed so that my fridge would be empty of perishable non fasting foods, but I have not.
Is it a sin to throw this food away? Should I consume it and continue in the fast once these are done?
You can check with your priest, but I would give it to the poor, animals or trash. Satan is a trickster and he always tries to find a way to tempt us with some poor rationalization. Looks like he's using the flimsy excuse of "well I've got it, so I might as well eat it" with you. Stay strong and abstain, brother.
 

Blade Runner

Pelican
Fish and Greens

For health reasons, keep away from carbs, simple and complex. Oh yes, it's hard, but at least make them combo carb proteins, like beans.

You'll always be hungry, which is sorta the point. Best to all this Lent.
 

tractor

Robin
eating lobster if you usually would not
educate me on lobsters and other shellfish. are those explicitly permitted during the Great Lent? I read that they are permitted on the weekly fast days (Wednesday and Friday) but I have no such information regarding the Great Lent.
 

tractor

Robin
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, members are routinely encouraged to abstain from milk, cheese, oil, wine, meat, and fish, in various combinations, during various circumstances, including religious seasons or as acts of penance.

I have been reading also about ancient Canons of the Holy Fathers, and am familiar too with dietary feats from the Desert Fathers. I am also told that eating "uncooked raw food" or "only bread for an entire day" are also spiritual accomplishments that are beneficial to soul and body. When I see a Desert Father monk was "subsisting only on vegetables", the impression is not that he was eating a delicious mashed potatoes with onions and carrots, but rather some leafy vegetables and boiled plant-roots.

My question is for people who live faithful and true lives within the Orthodox Church and her fasting lifestyles. What sort of recipes and foods do you actually eat, in real life, as a non-monk? I would be particularly interested in observing the differences between Old World immigrants and New World converts.

I also heard that the general principle is not to avoid specific foods, but to avoid the spirit of luxury. So I would assume that eating a very delicious coconut smoothie and avocado toast with black pepper, even though it does not contain prohibited foods, may violate the spirit of its fast due to its costliness and luxury taste.

If you have doubts you can also ask your priest what the best solution for you would be. My church's Father told me (I didn't even ask) that what counts is consistency, at least for beginners (prayer and moderation too, of course). It's better to eat chicken on a few days per week during the whole Lent than trying to be a hero in the first week and then engage in gluttony the week after. At the end of the day, it depends on your faith, how strong it is. Don't put new wine in the old wineskins, as Jesus taught us :)

For the first Lent, it's okay to have some "cheat meals", I guess. See how your body responds and pray to the Lord. If you feel like being able to exclude your "cheat meal", maybe next time you can eat as a monk :D. But moderation is the key.

My approach to the actual meals during the Great Lent is not very creative. Usually, I have the same plate I'd normally have but minus meat. Instead of meat & greens - greens only.
Instead of bread with butter, tomatoes and cheese - bread with tomatoes. Of course, you can replace butter with avocado.

Also, it's a good idea to eat only one full meal a day on weekdays. This way you can cut out unnecessary calories during the day. Or you can make a rule that you eat a fruit for breakfast, a slice of bread with pure peanut butter (no additives) for lunch and a normal meal (a salad with kernels plus some bread) for dinner. Sometimes I also drink a cup of black tea with a spoon of honey for fast energy.
 
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