I observe Lent every year. Some would say I observe it obsessively. I would not disagree with that. I love Lent, for a number of reasons. Most of all, I love it for the intentionality of my days during Lent- the care I give to what I focus my time on, what I eat, the choices I make. It’s a long hard slog, don’t get me wrong, but I arrive at Easter refreshed and renewed and, well, cleansed.
This year I started the food portion of my Lenten observance two days early, in order to start Whole Living’s 21-day action plan on a Monday. The plan is no gluten, no coffee, no alcohol, no sugar, no dairy, and no processed foods for 3 weeks. I’m on day 11 today, and it’s been quite the trek thus far. Despite believing myself to be a reasonably good and active cook, I am a complete slouch compared to the cooks who designed these recipes. The first week’s delicious menus came from Sarah B., of raw brownie fame (and much more, she is AMAZING), and I was in the kitchen every night for 2 hours making dinner, prepping breakfast and lunch for the next day, and cleaning up every utensil in my kitchen because somehow I used them all. Of course, I’m also making food for the men in the house- I will say they are kindly trying most of the foods I make for the cleanse plan, but they are not limiting themselves to those. But look at the colors!! This food is so pretty and bright!!
The first 7 days are light- lots of juices, smoothies, soups, salads. I got hungry but it wasn’t unbearable and there are some lovely snacks to eat throughout the 3 weeks that have kept me going. Date Oat Bar, anyone? Those are delicious, but if you can find dried cherries without oils and sugars, please tell me where you found them. I used all dates in mine due to the cherry issue. They are still delicious and really helped me on those mornings I’m up at 5 a.m. to teach yoga and don’t stop for lunch until noon. Perhaps I’m not supposed to eat as many of them as I have, but, well, there you have it. I also like the Banana Oat Pancakes:
Two nights ago I was really hungry. Really really hungry. On the menu were the black bean brown rice patties. These were not my favorite of the recipes. They were a bit mushy (I may have over-blended the lot) but not bad. I added a lot of avocado, and piled on greens and a bit of red pepper. The avocado served as a dressing of sorts. And I added the sweet potato chips- oh my goodness, soooo delicious!!
After this 21-day cleanse, there is of course a great deal of Lent left- nearly 4 weeks. I’ll be continuing the no coffee, no alcohol, no sugar, no gluten, no dairy, and no processed foods, but I’ll pick my favorites off the 21-day plan and add some of my own.
Of course, there’s a lot more to Lent than dietary choices, but I find that they are effective for me because I think about food so much! So when I think about food, I think about Lent, and why I am doing what I do. I get healthier along the way, too. Five long weeks to go- at least they will be full of pretty and good-for-me food!