I thought I would write a blog entry containing some Lenten food ideas. Writing this list will help me with meal planning and perhaps it will help someone else browsing the internet for ideas! My toddler of course does not fast, but he also doesn’t really like to eat meat very much, so I try, as much as possible, to find meal ideas that he will also like. So here it goes…
Also before I start my list, one thing I learned during the Nativity fast is when making beans from scratch (dried beans) to make them without oil. Its too hard to keep track of which leftover beans have oil or not, so I just cook them all without oil and then reheat them with oil if its an oil day.
1. Pasta noodles, spaghetti sauce and great northern beans. Puree the beans in a food processor and add it to the sauce and put on the noodles. Really easy and tasty! (tip: The Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms at Trader Joes is oil free).
2. Pasta noodles, with sauce of pureed great northern beans, spinach and garlic. I haven’t actually tried this yet, but I am going to…
3. Pasta noodles with “alfredo” sauce made of pureed cauliflower. There are many recipes for this online, but even if you just use cauliflower, some vegetable broth, onion, pepper and garlic, it should taste fine.
4. Vegan Pizza. Homemade pizza dough is very easy to make with wheat or spelt flour, sugar, water, yeast, salt, Italian seasoning, and a touch of Earth Balance coconut margarine. If its an oil day, a good sauce is an artichoke pesto with toppings of spinach, onion, white beans, and mushrooms. (My own dough recipe: 3 cups organic spelt or whole wheat flour, 1 cup water, 1 package yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 tbs italian seasoning, and 2 tbs coconut margarine for non-oil day, or olive oil for oil day. If margarine is also not to be used, skip the pizza dough and use flatbread. Let dough rise for at least 1/2 hour if possible. If time allows, let rise for 1 hour, kneed, then let rise again for another 1 hour)
5. Curry! Curry paste, coconut milk, plus lots of potatoes, onions, carrots, and mushrooms on top of brown rice for added carbohydrate and protein. This is a good meal, but unfortunately not very high protein. Some shrimp might help if you eat shrimp during the fast.
6. Spelt risotto. Empty a box of vegetable broth and pour in a bag of pearled spelt/spelt berries, add in chopped zucchini, mushrooms, and garbanzo beans. (Hint: Do not add in quinoa – I added some to my last batch and now the whole dish tastes like quinoa and less like spelt and mushrooms.)
7. Veggie fajita burritos. Bean, rice, tortillas, veggies! (Costco is now selling vegan veggie fajitas also!)
8. Portabello mushroom soup
9. Portabello mushroom sandwich or burger
10. Taco salad without the taco meat (Dark greens, kidney beans, corn, black beans, red onions, chips, avocado, salsa, etc.)
11. Vegan tortilla soup. Pacific Foods makes a vegan tortilla soup base that makes this really easy to make in the crockpot. Just add a variety of beans, onions, canned tomatoes and maybe even some pasta noodles.
12. Traditional green lentil soup.
13. Red lentil soup. Cook the lentils with about a ratio of half coconut milk to half water/vegetable broth and add in carrots, zucchini and cauliflower.
14. Rice noodles with peanut butter soy sauce and vegetables. I use Trader Joes spaghetti rice noodles and use a sauce of Organic soy sauce mixed with peanut butter. Some people use Soyaki sauce and peanut butter for this dish, but the only form of soy I can eat is fermented soy, so I use this other version. Pretty much any vegetables will do: carrots, broccoli, celery, etc.
15. Split pea soup. I read to avoid eating peas if you are trying to grow your family..otherwise, its a great soup and very easy to make!
16. Apples and peanut butter
17. Pita bread wraps with hummus and vegetables. For the oil days, etc.
18. Oatmeal. Good at any of time of the day. Not all oatmeal is the same. Some is very processed and lacks natural protein and iron. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Thick Cut Oats is, relatively, very high in protein and iron. Add in raisins for even more iron.
19. Homemade veggie burgers. It seems I can’t find my favorite recipe for these online anymore, but generally I would use black beans, lentils, mushrooms, ketchup, quick cooking oats, and seasonings to make these.
20. Potato and bean burrito. Shredded potatoes cooked in oil with cumin, chili powder, etc and refried beans in a tortilla. Then fry it in oil to cook it all together. For an oil day : ) Otherwise, its just as good with boiled beans and potatoes in a flatbread.
21. Vegan chili
22. Tortilla or pita bread wrap with white beans and spinach. High in protein and iron.
23. Lavash bread/flatbread, oil, garlic and vegetables.
24. Lentil tacos. Cook lentils exactly as you would taco meat (i.e. tomatoes, onions, and seasoning) and use in place of the meat in tacos or burritos.
If I think of any more ideas, I’ll add them to the list. Making this list has definitely helped me feel more mentally organized for preparing food for my family for Lent. It seems that the key ingredients to have on hand are: lots of vegetables (especially spinach), oats, lentils, peanut butter, potatoes, mushrooms, tortillas, pita bread, canned tomatoes, and a variety of beans.