Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to celebrate Lent intentionally to improve yourself – spiritually, physically, emotionally.
Lent has always been a major time of focus for me, and I take it seriously every year.
It is to my eating and spiritual habits what January 1st is for most people, except with the discipline that comes from committing to at least 40 days of the goal.
I want to encourage you, no matter what religion you practice, to take the 40 days before Easter (starting this Wednesday) as a time of spiritual renewal. The Catholic Church suggests that Christians make one new commitment in each of the following areas:
Improving one’s prayer life, including Scripture reading, attending classes, or simply making a regular time for prayer (or increasing it) is a continual goal of Christians, but Lent can be a good jump start to actually doing something about it.
Fasting does not have to be from food; it can be to sacrifice a bad habit (like complaining) or abstain from non-food vices (like social media, television). 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.
Our church handed out a little pamphlet on simplifying Lent that correctly asserted that many people don’t "do" Lent very well, either because they give up/do too little or too much. One new strategy recommended in the pamphlet was to choose "One Sin" that you really, really want to focus on kicking during this 40 days.
That "pet" sin that you end up committing over and over, the bad habit that hurts others in the Body of Christ, the one you just can’t seem to get off your back.
I think everyone has one.
And 40 days is plenty of time to focus, re-focus, and make improvements in rooting it out of your life.
You’ll probably fail, to be honest.
Our pet sins are usually too ingrained to completely eradicate. But it’s worth trying hard, and you’ll likely be a lot closer to sainthood than if you don’t try at all.
My One Sin
For me, I’m convicted to work on my anger – my frustration when things don’t go my way, when something pops up that interrupts my expected sequence of events, when something goes wrong in the kitchen or the kids make a big mess or I’m just…frustrated! I have a bad tendency to lose my temper over things that, in retrospect, don’t deserve more than a passing "ugh" and are really great opportunities to "let go and let God."
I miss out on a lot of my chances for sainthood, to be sure.
So this Lent, I’m promising to catch myself in my tracks, to consider the long-term implications of what I’m frustrated about (usually nada), to focus on letting go of my pride and planning and letting God do a great work in me, the kind that will make my children holier, that will improve the tone of my household, that will make those around me wonder what grounds me so well, from where I get my joy.
Let go of anger, seek joy.
Let go of pride and selfishness, seek generosity and holiness.
I can do this.
The Food Thing
I always do something with food for Lent, if only because it’s something that will affect me every day, and therefore I get more opportunities to offer up my sacrifice and to be reminded that God should be my focus.
In the past, I’ve given up eating between meals, white sugar, grains, chocolate, and other permutations of self-denial.
This year, my husband is embarking on his first Whole 30 (on his own volition! This from a former chronic soda drinker and fast food lover! I’ve slowly boiled him to this point, ladies…there is hope for your spouse as well, promise!). Since he’ll be grain-free, dairy-free and legume-free, it’s a perfect chance for me to go whole hog on my anti-cavity diet, which will include no grains, no legumes, only occasional soaked and dehydrated nuts, and lots of raw milk and yogurt.
Our raw milk share will continue to bring us 3 1/2 gallons a week, so while he ditches dairy I can drink his share. Perfect fit! I’ll cook grain-free/legume-free and add cheese to my portion and the kids’ when warranted, plus some occasional grain-free baked goods like biscuits and pancakes which he will be able to work around.
I’m excited, honestly.
Weird, I know, but that’s just how geeky I am! Plus, my "mummy tummy" is still very evident 3.5 months postpartum here. Gabe is my first winter baby, and I know my body dearly misses taking walks outside. It will be goooooood to remind myself not to each all the chocolate I see.
If you’re starting a gut-healing diet like Whole 30 or GAPS this spring, you’ll need support. It’s HARD! Many people have found just what they need in Cara’s GAPS Starter Package. Our family has loved many of her recipes, especially the "like whole wheat walnut biscuits" – although I can’t have those this Lent! Eat one for me, m’kay?
As you prepare for your own Lent, here are some past resources and ponderings to inspire you to make it your best Lent ever:
- 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!
- To Solemnity or not to Solemnity?
- Prayer Ideas for Lent and Beyond
- How to Keep Up on Daily Prayer
- Celebrating Lent with Children (some amazing ideas here that I need to read through again)
- On Sacrifice and Suffering
- "Does Satan Hate Bread?" (a popular exploration post on the gluten-free/grain-free phenomenon)
Meatless Meals with Real Food
A traditional part of Lent for Catholics is to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday plus all Fridays in Lent. (That’s a great habit for your budget to keep up all year long, by the way!) Here are some of the KS meatless recipes that go way beyond "cheese pizza" and "breakfast for dinner" —
Hearty Lentil Stew – with or without the slow cooker, 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!
Gluten-free Protein-packed White Sauce over rice – the recipe calls for chicken, but just cut it out and you’re good to go. This is the new tweak to make my Pasta with White (Bean) Sauce, the free download from The Everything Beans Book, easily and less expensively gluten-free.
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!
PLUS it’s now available IN PRINT!!
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 exclusively in The Everything Beans Book – grab the new PRINT version on Amazon.
Creamy Cauliflower Soup – Dairy-free and a definite possibility for us this Lent! I might have to use coconut milk to thicken a bit instead of cashews, though, since the anti-cavity plan shouldn’t have cashews on it. (photo reprinted with permission from The Blender Girl)
Cabbage Superfood Soup – You’ll be surprised at the secret ingredient in this one and how much you like the synergy of flavors.
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.
Veggie Bean Burritos – one of our favorite meatless meals; my husband *almost* doesn’t even miss the meat.
Potato Vegetable Pancakes – make them with shredded raw potatoes + sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots, spinach and more; serve with scrambled eggs.
Bethany’s fail-proof custard can be made with just about any dietary restrictions (except eggs), so I see us using this recipe for Lent!
- Taco Quinoa Chili
- 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.
- 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.
If you’re not sure where to find sustainably sourced fish in your area, you can be assured that Vital Choice fish will be chock full of nutrition and sustainably harvested (pricey, but may be worth it to you!).
Disclosure: I included affiliate links in this post to Cara’s books, Amazon, and Vital Choice. Thanks for starting with those links to share commission with KS!