Foods That Are OK to Eat for Orthodox Lent and Other Fasting Times

Apple oatmeal
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Getting Creative with Food for Lent

When there are so many things Christians are forbidden to eat by their particular religious denominations, it's hard not to feel deprived. But there are just as many things that can be eaten. It just takes a little creativity and manipulation of ingredients.

Fasting and Abstinence

Lent is a period of 40 days (46 days for Orthodox Christians) of prayer, fasting and abstinence in preparation for the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday.

Fasting refers to restrictions on the quantity of food eaten and when it is consumed, while abstinence refers to the complete avoidance of particular foods.

Under current Roman Catholic church law, the faithful are required to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent.

However, for Orthodox Christians, who follow the Julian calendar, the Great Lent is much more strict and the faithful are expected to abstain from meat, meat byproducts, poultry, eggs and dairy products for the entire Lenten period.

These Serbian Lent recipes show how much variety there is and that there needn't be any feelings of deprivation.

Foods That Are OK for Serbian Orthodox Lent and Other Fasting Times

  • All vegetable oils
  • All fish oils
  • All seafood
  • Shortening containing vegetable ingredients only
  • Margarines containing vegetable ingredients only
  • Noodles and pastas NOT made with eggs
  • All-natural grain flours, cornstarch, cocoa powder
  • Rice, wheat, barley, caraway, oats, natural tapioca
  • Hot and cold cereals like corn flakes, puffed wheat and rice, shredded wheat, oatmeal, farina, etc.
  • All dried fruits and vegetables
  • All fresh and canned fruits and vegetables
  • All dried beans, peas, and lentils
  • All seeds, nuts and peanut butter
  • All herbs and spices
  • Some crackers (read the label carefully)
  • Corn chips, potato chips and popcorn fried in vegetable oil or shortening only
  • Tea, coffee, cider, juices, soft drinks
  • Jellies, jams, and preserves
  • Nondairy creamers and whipped toppings
  • Carob in place of chocolate
  • Nonalcoholic wine and sparkling beverages

Breakfast Ideas for the Great Lent

  • Fruit kebabs
  • Lenten waffles with jam or syrup
  • Peanut butter & honey on bagels
  • Fruit salad
  • Applesauce cake
  • Tahini & honey on toast made with Lenten bread
  • Lenten pancakes
  • Lenten crepes with dairy-free chocolate sauce
  • Lenten muffins
  • Fresh fruits
  • Baked apples
  • Baked grapefruit
  • Cereal and vanilla soy milk
  • Cinnamon toast
  • Kasha or grits
  • Granola with applesauce
  • Granola with pie filling
  • Oatmeal with raisins, syrup or jam
  • Believe it or not, applesauce works great as a milk substitute on cereals and, equally hard to believe, orange juice sometimes works just fine. Really.

Source: The breakfast ideas are from St Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church, Wichita, Kan.