It is late winter, and we are marching at a steady pace towards much anticipated spring! Don’t get me wrong I enjoy winter….for the most part. There is much beauty in winter; the crisp cold air, the mornings when you wake and everything is carpeted with a thick layer of snow and the afternoons spent sledding with my kids.
However, as winter nears its end, I grow impatient for Spring to arrive. I look forward to feeling the warm sun and marveling at the colorful display of blooming trees and spring flowers. It is Earth’s rebirth. Nature’s colorful return and renewal.
Inevitably, there are events that gradually occur over the weeks that herald the arrival of spring. One of those events for Greeks, is Easter and the period of Lent that leads up to it. Easter is one of the most important holidays for Greeks, and my family celebrates it to its fullest. In addition to its religious significance, the period of Lent leading up to Easter offers an opportunity for personal reflection. Reflection with the intent of betterment. Much like Spring, it offers an opportunity for renewal.
In observance of Lent, Greeks practice fasting. Intermittent fasting has become very ‘in vogue’ lately as a means of controlling one’s weight. But for the sake of this post I am describing fast as a custom that has been practiced by faithful for centuries as a means to exercise self discipline. Fasting during Lent requires the faithful to follow a strict vegan diet (yes vegan, another buzz word these days).
Although foods such as gyros and kebabs are often associated with Greek cuisine, the Greek diet has historically favored plant based foods. Whether dictated by faithful observance, affordability or availability, Greeks over the centuries have embraced and celebrated vegan cuisine.
To a part-time vegan, self discipline is definitely needed during the 40 days of Lent. Switching to a full-time vegan diet requires more effort and time to plan and prepare meals. But the payoff is worth it: trying new foods, experimenting with new recipes and enjoying the numerous health benefits a plant-based diet may offer.
During this time, my household enjoys cooking some of the classic Greek vegan dishes that have been household staples for generations. While we look forward to cooking the classics, we also enjoy experimenting with new recipes and flavors. They say diversity is the spice of life! We like to add Asian, South Asian and Latin American recipes to our weekly rotation of vegan meals. The new spices, flavors and textures keep the taste buds entertained and fresh!
Over the next few weeks we will be sharing with you some of the recipes that we enjoy and hope you will also enjoy making them with your family. One of the first recipes we want to share with you is the national dish of Greece: the humble fasolatha (white bean soup). Lisa has been busy creating a recipe for us that will help reduce some of the time and effort needed for the soup. Her family and mine love this soup and hope you will too! Check out the recipe here: https://www.tolmee.com/blogs/news/kid-approved-homemade-fasolatha-bean-soup
So in the spirit of rebirth and renewal, so closely associated with Easter and Spring, lets challenge ourselves for betterment. Whatever that “better” is to you and however you wish to achieve it. Over the next few weeks, I will attempt to do so with the tools that my culture has provided me; through a period of fasting, self discipline and personal reflection. Whatever journey you choose to take towards betterment, I am sure you will succeed, feel renewed and be ready for the warm months ahead!
Be bold, Be hopeful, Be Tolmee