Tomorrow my toddler will be in awe of the fact that he finally gets something at the end of the line at church.
He’s used to going in the communion line and watching everyone else receive, but as a 2-year-old, that’s the extent of his level of participation. We’ll find out if he’s "in-awe-excited" or "in-awe-don’t-touch-my-forehead-with-that-stuff-scared," both of which we’ve seen in the past in our older two kids.
Our 5-year-old has already stated emphatically that she doesn’t want the ashes on her head. "Are they hot?" she whimpered nervously. Ash Wednesday Mass could be interesting.
We Catholics are called to eat simply on Ash Wednesday, with one normal-sized meal and two small additions that should not equal a full meal together (fasting), and we also abstain from meat that day and all Fridays of Lent. We offer up our hunger and our (tiny) sacrifice as a prayer, allowing God to work through our hunger and living out Paul’s call to "pray constantly" in 1 Thessalonians.
We unite ourselves to Christ’s Cross, and although our 40 days of fasting (from whatever we choose), prayer and almsgiving pale in comparison to the starkness of Christ’s 40 days in the desert or the glory of the 40 days between His Resurrections and Ascension, we pray that in some small way, we are able to enter into His life in this way.
It’s my favorite time of year, spiritually, and I always grow internally from the discipline of Lent and oftentimes even develop lasting habits. It’s also a wonderful meal planning challenge, making sure we have a meatless Friday each week – and for us, half of Lent will be grain-free and the other half 100% gluten-free as well for an added bonus challenge.
For your own Friday meal planning enjoyment, may I present:
Meatless Recipes at Kitchen Stewardship
Cream of Vegetable Soup with Salmon Patties (top photo, newly updated recipe including gluten-free and grain-free options) – The best part about this meal? You can start it an hour before dinner, no thawing, no soaking involved!
Garlic Leek Soup with Egg – As long as you’re okay with chicken broth on Friday, this soup is very simple but very satisfying. (While many soups are great with veggie broth, I’m not sure this one would be.)
Creamy Halibut with Caramelized Onions – a simple yet elegant presentation for any white fish, quick enough to whip up even for lunch. The post includes instructions for how to cook any kind of fish any style!
Chickpea Wraps – a great recipe to get beans into people who might not love beans.
Three Bean Soup – Kid-friendly because all the beans are blended, another good choice for dipping grilled cheese, found only in The Everything Beans Book.
Blended Green Soup (Asparagus, Zucchini, etc.) – a starter soup perfect for Lent or anytime to help kids eat more veggies. (Cute faces optional)
Salsa Soup – another "starter soup" that could make a meal with cheese quesadillas or a hearty salad and bread.
Black Bean Soup – I can’t tell you how often I’ve been making this lately, probably because it doesn’t really call for any special ingredients and is easy to double. Serve with cornbread or tortilla chips.
Pasta with White (Bean) Sauce – this is the free download from The Everything Beans Book. It’s a nice pasta-based change to plain old meatless sauce and gets some protein in you on a Friday.
Potato Pancakes – make them with shredded raw potatoes or leftover mashed potatoes; serve with scrambled eggs.
- Hearty Lentil Stew – with or without the slow cooker (this year without for us), this is always our Ash Wednesday/Good Friday meal. For grain-free, I cut the rice and added half again as much lentils, then some more veggies, and cut the water to between 3-4 cups. It all works out!
- St. Peter’s Spicy Fish Seasoning – the only way we eat fish in our house! Use on wild salmon or any healthy fish.
- Tuscan Bean Soup – A super simple soup perfect for dipping grilled cheese.
- Veggie Bean Burritos – one of our favorite meatless meals; my husband *almost* doesn’t even miss the meat.
- Mexican Black Bean Burgers – They’re not grain-free but could be with almond flour in place of the bread crumbs.
- Southwestern Pot Pie – a unique twist on the standard pot pie, with a garbanzo bean-sweet potato filling and cornbread on top.
Other Meatless Meals I Discovered
As much as I love the meatless meals we already enjoy here in the KS household, I’m definitely ready for some new Friday meals this year. Here’s the result of my forays into the rest of the real food blogosphere lately…
Note: Some of these options include chicken or beef bone broth, which you may or may not "count" as meat for your Fridays. I have no idea what the Church teaching is on that, but I generally use water or vegetable broth instead and on most recipes, especially hearty, legume-filled soups like most of these, you’d never know the difference.
And don’t forget to follow my Meatless Meals: Real Food Style pin board, where you’ll find most of these recipes archived plus more to come I’m sure. A meatless board where you can be certain soy products won’t make the cut…
Gluten-free AND Meatless
I’ll mark the completely grain-free options with an (*). Some call to be served over rice, so I suppose you could use cauli-rice or a baked potato, which would make even more grain-free.
- *Beans and Greens Tacos from With Food + Love
- *Roasted Winter Vegetable Soup from A Happy Healthnut
- Chili Cheese Lentils from Red and Honey
- *Kale, Lentil and Butternut Squash Soup from A Harmony Healing
- Rainbow Chard Quinoa Bowls with Curry Coconut Broth from With Food + Love
- Quinoa Stuffed Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls from A Happy Healthnut
- *Meatless Tortilla Soup from Don’t Waste the Crumbs
- Sprouted Lentil Sloppy Joes from Raia’s Recipes
- Mujadara (Lebanese Lentils and Rice) from Raia’s Recipes
- Chickpea and Spinach Curry from Family Gone Healthy
- *Shakshuka (Eggs Baked in Tomato Sauce) from Economies of Kale
- Sloppy Lentils from Rooted Blessings
- *Hardy Lentil Soup from The Organic Kitchen
- Sweet and Sour Lentils from Red and Honey
(but may be able to be gluten-free with GF pasta)
- Baked Ziti with Zucchini, Kale and 2 Sauces from Don’t Waste the Crumbs
- Salsa and Spinach Pie with Wild Onions from Richly Rooted
- Pasta Primavera with Creamy Cauliflower Sauce from Don’t Waste the Crumbs
- Cheesy Lentil Macaroni from Don’t Waste the Crumbs
The Everything Beans Book – About half of the 30 recipes are meatless, and about half are gluten-free, so there’s definitely something for everyone! The Everything Beans Book also includes 20 pages of information on why beans are good for you, how to cook dry beans without frustration and for maximum health benefits and budget savings, how to do it in bulk and store for quick meals later, and even how to deal with – shhhhh – (gas)!
If you haven’t grabbed your copy, what are you waiting for? No better time than Lent to fall in love with beans! You can always find all my meatless meals under the Recipes tab at the top of the page, and click on the subtitle "Meatless Meals" for a complete list!
Lenten Resources Beyond the Kitchen
Here are some of the Lenten gems from the archives at KS to get you thinking:
- On Lenten sacrifices (why we do it)
- First time giving up all white sugar
- Can You Decorate for Lent?
- The “What are you Doing for Lent?” Carnival with lots of inspiration from amazing women!
- Celebrating Lent with Children (some amazing ideas here that I need to read through again)
- "Does Satan Hate Bread?" (a popular exploration post from last Lent on the gluten-free/grain-free phenomenon)
I always told my third graders to choose three things to do, one in each category of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, the tradition set by the Church.
Fasting does not have to be from food; it can be to sacrifice anything (like complaining) or abstain from non-food vices (like when I gave up Twitter last year). The point is to develop and sustain your self-control, however God wants you to practice it.
One of the shortest posts I’ve ever written: I Don’t Believe in Giving up Pizza for Lent
Almsgiving also does not have to be monetary. Any sort of service for the Lord is giving alms, as long as it’s done out of love for Him. You might look into a new volunteer opportunity, or simply commit to spending special time with each of your children.
How about it, ladies and gents: what are you contemplating for Lent this year? How will you stretch and challenge yourself?