Thursday, November 14, 2013

Soy unnerves me: 7 Simple Meatless Dishes for the Nativity Fast

Byzantine Catholics and Orthodox Christians begin St Philip's Fast (Advent) on the 15th. Many believers eat practically vegan during this time. To balance medical concerns along with small children's needs, we shoot for meatless except Sunday with Wednesdays and Fridays being vegan. 
Here's a few ideas for the fast. My goal is to be as simple as possible, leaving more room for family and prayer during this season. And yes, we limit Christmasy celebrations as much as possible until actual Christmas.....the 12 days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day!
1. Always have a pot of beans either soaking or cooking in the crock pot. Soak your beans in water over night and discard the soaking water, rinsing the beans well. Add new water to cook the beans. Do not slat the beans while they are cooking! I've never tried whey or apple cider vinegar to soak my beans, but this blog post explains that it will increase the nutritional value. I'm going to try it the next time I cook beans. 

2. Soup! Lentils are quick and easy. Using your pre-soaked beans works just as well. Potato  leek soup can be a treat. I've seen some meatless French onion soup recipes floating around the internet...I have got to try that. Minestrone soup is a winner (tomato base soup with kidney beans, pasta, spinach). I feel sorry for soup-hating families. It makes my life easier to cook a good soup along with a salad and bread. There is always enough for lunch the next day.

3. Salad- Daughter#2 made a very yummy salad last night. She grated equal amounts of carrot and zucchini and then added rice vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. This kind of salad would keep forever covered in the fridge if you wait to dress it. Another frequent salad is anything cabbage- chopped or grated along with whatever fresh vegetables are on hand.  

4. Veggie burgers- reserve extra cooked chopped potatoes along with cooked veggies like chopped green beans, onions and sweet peppers. Mix along with some bread crumbs, vegetable broth and a bit of freshly minced garlic. I use xanthan gum (only a little) as a binder instead of egg whites. You can add some chopped herbs if you like. Trader Joe's makes an Indian-style veggie burger, so I add some curry powder to simulate their product. My version is much more affordable! Cook your patties (make a big meatball, then flatten) on the skillet or in the oven until crispy.
we do celebrate U.S. Thanksgiving the 'normal' way- and save leftovers until Sunday...
5. Vegetable pasta is yummy. If you find yourself missing the richness of animal products, do not forget to saute your onions, peppers and mushrooms for a more complex taste. Another method is to oven-roast your vegetables (even your garlic!) if the oven is already working. Caramelizing vegetables such as carrots, squash, onions lends that rich taste to dishes that are meatless.

6. We aren't really a peanut butter family (thank God, we don't have allergies, though)- so I stock up on almond butter and sunflower seed butter for fasting times. There is really no better snack than apple slices dipped in almond butter. 

7. I limit soy as much as I can in this modern world. We might eat a tofu dish once a week during a fasting time. I use almond or rice milk, never soy. Who knows if soy is even a problem? It just makes me nervous. I need to learn to depend more on beans during fasting times. It is a little boring, but fasting is an exercise to temper our 'passions'- and eating a variety of food is definitely a 'passion' and habit of the modern middle-class American. 
I hope your St Philip's Fast is holy and beneficial to your family!


  1. I had no idea Advent was celebrated this way in the Byzantine Catholic church. Happy Advent! Perhaps this might be relevant to you, but perhaps not... This past week I inadvertently created pumpkin seed tofu while attempting a pumpkin seed milk cheese for my dairy (and soy) allergic children. I made a brief mention of it in my 7 quick takes at If you have access to raw pumpkin (or sunflower?) seeds, it's a pretty simple process and a healthier sub for soy tofu if you're interested. I won't further clog your comments with details, but I'd be happy to pass along the info if you'd like it.

    1. that sounds so interesting...I'll jump over to your blog- I have also heard of using raw cashews for a sour cream kind of thing instead of using tofu

  2. Soy makes me nervous, too. If I eat even a little, it messes up my chart.

    1. wow- your body must really react to the estrogen- knowledge is power!

  3. Just a note, salting the beans while they soak is extremely effective and minimizes the amount of salt the final dish needs for proper seasoning.

    Salt doesn't make beans hard. That's just an old wives tale. I brine all my beans, except pinto beans, which we don't soak at all.

  4. My mom buys tofu from an international supermarket in our area--it's part of the Asian cuisine.

    Although Advent starts Dec. 1st for us Latin/Roman rite Catholics, a blessed and happy Advent just the same! Also, if you attend Mass on Nov. 30th, it's the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle. A holy lead into Advent! :)

    See you when you come back...

  5. I like these ideas. If just for keeping our Fridays interesting year round and saving money. Thankfully, the more often I serve beans, the more willingly the children are to eating them. But I can't stand lentils. I'll have to save those recipes for Lent, maybe Ash Wednesday.
    Have you ever read the 'Twelve Months of Monastery Soups'? Lots of great vegetable based soups of all types in there.

    1. I have that book! It is great- another one that I use is called 'Love Soup'

      :( that you don't like lentils- they cook so much faster than beans!


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