5 Fish-Free Family-Friendly Meals for Lent

It’s the third week of Lent, and if you observe the custom of fasting from land-animal meat on Fridays (or on all the days of Lent) but you normally eat lots of meat, by now you’re probably getting tired of fish sticks and macaroni-and-cheese!  It’s time for something different–and less expensive, too.

Here are 5 legume-based meals my family really likes.  Our kids are 11-year-old Nicholas and 21-month-old Lydia.  Most of these meals also have been eaten happily by Nick’s elementary-aged friends at some point.  If someone you’re feeding doesn’t like spicy food, though, you’ll want to be cautious with the pepper and ginger–maybe try half the amount the recipe specifies, or just leave it out, depending on your sensitivity level.

My family could eat all these meals in a week.  If you’re unaccustomed to eating legumes, don’t start out with too many as they may upset your digestion–but one meal a week should be fine.  Why not legumes on Friday instead of fish on Friday?  (Is it just because legume doesn’t start with F?)

All of these meals are gluten-free and vegan, unless you choose some of the optional embellishments or side dishes. Read more of this post

Lemon Creamy Salmon photo tutorial!

Lent is about half over.  If you’re fasting from meat during Lent, and you normally eat a lot of meat, by now you’re probably getting kind of bored with fish sticks and macaroni-and-cheese.  Time to try something new!

I’ve posted this recipe before, explaining how this delicious complete meal can be adjusted to work with whatever greens and starch you have handy.  In this post, I’m making a specific version of it, helpfully illustrated with photos for all you visual learners.

Bonus Parenting Tip: If you have a child who is old enough to use a camera and is casting about restlessly saying, “I want somebody to dooo something with me!” on a Sunday evening just as you are about to start dinner, ask him to be your photographer for a cooking article!  It will keep him busy, and it will enable you to get photos of every step of the process without having to pause the food preparation to wash your hands so that you don’t get fish fat and onion juice all over the camera!  (That is the reason I don’t take photos of cookery more often.  Well, also it’s because taking the extra time to load photos into a post rarely seems worth it to me–not being a visual learner myself.)

All photos in this article were taken by Nicholas Efran, age 10.  Thanks for your help, Nicholas!ingredients

To make 4 servings of this particular version of Lemon Creamy Salmon with Tangy Greens, you will need:

  • 15 oz. canned wild Alaskan salmon, including liquid
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 cups fresh kale
  • 1/2 lb. whole-wheat rotini pasta
  • 2 tsp. instant vegetable broth mix (We get this in bulk at the food co-op.)
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (separately from above oil)
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

Read more…

The Power of Purple Is Real!!!

I am putting this post in a variety of categories because it’s kind of silly but I’m kind of serious, too.  I would like to believe that in this very complicated world, my actions truly do make a difference, even in unexpected metaphysical ways.

Purple is my favorite color.  At this point in my life, I feel like I finally own enough purple clothing.  On my fortieth birthday, which in various ways did not go very well, I was wearing an all-purple outfit when Daniel and I went out to lunch and he (very uncharacteristically) spilled an entire glass of ice water on me.  When we got home, I was able to change into another all-purple outfit.  That’s the way life should be!  I am happily on my way to being that old woman in the famous poem by Jenny Joseph.

Monday, I wore a purple sweater.  This was really just because I had finally gotten around to washing this particular sweater, so now it was available again, and at this point in the year I am kind of tired of most of my sweaters, but it had been at least two weeks since I’d worn this one.

Tuesday, I wore a purple and white striped knit top.  As I took it out of the drawer, I thought, “But I just wore purple yesterday!” like I might be enjoying myself too much or something, but then I remembered that my church was hosting the East End Lenten Series supper and service that night, and purple is the color for Lent because purple is the color of sadness in church tradition.  It works all backwards with me and is one of the reasons why I like Lent.

Tuesday morning’s e-newsletter, for employees of the gargantuan “health system” where I work, encouraged us to wear purple on Wednesday to support patient safety. Read more of this post

Get Up and Eat: 3 Years of Replenishment

Today is Ash Wednesday.  Three years ago on Ash Wednesday, I wrote this article about the renewal we can experience during Lent.  I had no idea what was coming my way!

You may have heard of the idea of choosing one word as a theme for your year.  You’re supposed to place this word around your home or on a bracelet, where you’ll see it regularly and be reminded of your intention, and it will inspire you and serve as a guiding principle.  Maybe you make some collages or something based on your word, for further inspiration.  Maybe you use it like a mantra for meditation.  Some people tell stories of amazing growth that resulted from this simple choice.

It sounds like a fine idea, and in January of 2012, when several bloggers I read were writing about what word each of them chose, I found that a particular word came into my mind as a goal for my own life.  The word was replenishment.

Almost a year earlier, during my church vestry retreat, I’d thought of replenishment as the one word that best expressed what I wanted for my church: We were worn out from years of struggle, and many people had left, so we were down to a small core of mostly old-ish people working really hard to keep our parish going.  I prayed for replenishment of our individual souls and strengths to keep us working toward the replenishment of our parish with new people and new energy.  It’s working!!  Our church is growing and getting really wonderful now!

But as 2012 dawned, I realized that I could use some replenishment myself.  Not only was I working really hard on the vestry, but I was still working my way out of being a migraineur, which is a deceptively elegant word for “chronic horrible headache victim” or, at least in my case, “person with a massively fucked-up tendency to allow her brain to malfunction and get some kind of bizarre power trip out of it.”  My New Year’s resolution for 2010 had been to battle the headaches from every possible direction, and that really helped: I went from having about four headaches per week to more like two per month!  But that battle had worn me down, what with various lifestyle changes and medical appointments and facing stuff in therapy and attempting to ask for what I need, so although I was suffering less pain, I was very depleted and had this awful sense of being so busy all the time yet never getting everything done.

So: 2012, my year of replenishment!  I didn’t write the word everywhere or make a collage, but I prayed about it a lot and, when faced with choices about what to do, considered what would be the most replenishing choice.  It was going pretty well for the first couple months, and then it was time for Lent, and I decided that I would fast from the idea, “I don’t have time to get things done.”  Well, guess how that turned out? Read more…

Holy Recycling!

It’s Works-for-Me Wednesday, and it’s also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  If you don’t belong to a religion that observes Ash Wednesday–or even if you do–you may never have thought about where churches get the ashes that are used to draw a cross on each person’s forehead to remind us that our physical bodies are made from dust and will return to dust.  The ashes are made by burning dried palm fronds, and although it’s possible to buy ashes, the tradition is for each church to make its own by burning the palm fronds that were used in the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebration.

I love that.

Not only is it a clever way of getting two uses out of the same material (not recycling, technically, but repurposing) but it’s a way of bringing us full circle, connecting each year to the next, reminding us that the story of Jesus is not a one-time thing but a series of eternal truths to relive every year.  Read more…

A Half-Fast Lent

Happy Easter!

Despite my positive past experiences with changing my behavior for Lent, this year I didn’t give up anything for those six weeks.  Frankly, I kind of felt like I couldn’t handle any more self-discipline, since my schedule was so packed with work, meetings, household errands and projects, and trying to be some kind of a mother to my six-year-old son.  As a member of my church’s vestry (administrative council) while our overstressed pastor is on a four-month leave and both the congregation and the pastor are discerning how we can work together more effectively in the future, I attended two hours of meetings per week on average and spent many hours analyzing data we collected at a parish forum.  In a way, that was a Lenten discipline!  Why not cut myself some slack this year?

But then, the week before Lent began, I wrote a grouchy article about why I should never have started a “To Be Filed” pile, and just a few days later our priest-in-residence asked if anyone could loan him an end table for his temporary home. Read more…

7 Lessons from Lent

It’s 7 Quick Takes Friday at my favorite religious blog, and while my takes might not be quick, I’d like to share 7 things I recently learned:

1. I really, really hate flossing my teeth, and I do not get used to it. Read more…

Local Lent diary

Happy Easter!  If you read my article about reducing your environmental impact for Lent, you might have noticed something missing: I never said what I was going to do for Lent this year.  Am I just so impeccably environmentally friendly that there’s nothing left for me to give up??  No, but an enviro-fast wasn’t in my plans for this year until I started working on that article and feeling hypocritical.  I had planned a different Lenten discipline, but I decided to do something environmental as well, something not too difficult, for a change, because (in addition to being thoroughly stressed out by illness and snowstorm just before Lent) I think I’m more helpful to novice environmentalists when I write about the easier things.

So, I decided to fast from buying things made or grown outside North America. I gave priority to things made in Pennsylvania (where I live), then the continental United States, then Canada, Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska. Read more…

40-Day Free Trial!

A note to non-Christian readers: Please don’t think this article is not for you!  The benefits of a free trial period for a lifestyle change can be yours, too, even without the religious significance.  You can fast along with us for these 40 days, or choose a different time period.  UPDATE: In 2017, Lent is March 1 through April 15.

Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite pieces of the Episcopal liturgy, Eucharistic Prayer C:

God of all power, Ruler of the Universe . . .  At your command all things came to be: the vast expanse of interstellar space, galaxies, suns, the planets in their courses, and this fragile earth, our island home. From the primal elements you brought forth the human race and blessed us with memory, reason, and skill. You made us the rulers of creation. But we turned against you and betrayed your trust. . . .

As caring for the environment becomes trendy, we’re all hearing about the many things we could do to protect this fragile earth, our island home, the amazingly complete and intricate gift with which we have been entrusted.  For each of us, some changes have been easy to make, but then there are the others–the things we feel we “should” do and might resolve to “try” but never quite get around to doing because we fear the big commitment of changing our comfortable habits.

Good news! Christian tradition gives us a clearly defined season in which to take on something we’ve been meaning to do or give up something we’ve been meaning to stop. Lent offers an opportunity to change my lifestyle without committing to making that change permanent. Read more…

Our SoyLent Diary

I’m an Episcopalian, so I observe Lent in some way every year. Sometimes I’ve given up something, and other times I’ve taken on something extra. Lent offers an opportunity to change my lifestyle without committing to making that change permanent. I’ve always learned something from Lent, sometimes a different lesson than I expected.

I’m also an environmentalist. While many of the threats to our planet’s health are caused by big corporations or government policies, I tend to focus on the environmental impacts of individual people’s lifestyle choices, because that’s an area in which it’s easier to make a difference. Over the years, I’ve changed my own lifestyle one step at a time.

As I thought about how to observe Lent this year, and as I considered what should be the next step in my environmentalism, I realized that the two could be combined. Giving up meat for Lent is an old tradition that’s still popular–the deprivation is supposed to help you feel grateful for what you have, and it’s symbolic of forsaking carnal pleasure to become more spiritual. Vegetarianism is good for the environment because producing meat uses many more resources than growing plants. For years, I’d been slowly reducing the amount of meat in my diet, but I’d never quite gotten around to becoming a vegetarian. It was time to try. Read more…