BALTIMORE, MD – International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) presented a Lenten cooking demonstration on April 18, via Zoom, with Eleni Saltas, author of the cookbook All You Can Greek. Saltas demonstrated how to make delicious Lenten recipes including a Greek garbanzo bean salad and shrimp saganaki with pasta.
The event began with welcoming remarks by Christina Meares and then an update by IOCC Director of Development and Communications Katrina Straker on the IOCC’s ongoing efforts during the pandemic including in Greece and in Uganda, just two of the 16 countries where the IOCC helps those in need. A short video, filmed before COVID, focused on the schools built in Uganda, where there are 100 Orthodox Christian communities in a country the size of Maine. Aware of the IOCC’s efforts in Uganda, the country’s medical bureau reached out during the pandemic and IOCC helped to get PPE to parishes and communities in need.
Following the video, Saltas demonstrated the recipes and answered questions from the attendees. According to Meares, 150 participants signed up for the event which included helpful tips and suggestions to help make cooking Lenten meals easier. Saltas also clarified that “saganaki” refers to the small pan the food is cooked in and is not just the fried cheese dish many refer to as “saganaki” so shrimp can be saganaki and are appropriate for fasting. Though she noted that feta can be added to the shrimp saganaki when not fasting.
The salad featured protein-packed garbanzo beans (chickpeas), along with the typical Greek salad ingredients- tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, green pepper, and Kalamata olives. Avocado could also be added as well at the end with the dressing which was made with Greek extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, oregano, and a crushed garlic clove.
Saltas offered encouragement to those cooking at home, saying “don’t be afraid to make Lenten or vegan dishes,” and noting that there is a lot of flavor in these types of recipes. She pointed out that with Greek cuisine “you can eat well” with plant-based meals
Saltas was born in Salt Lake City and since childhood has been fully immersed in Utah's vibrant Greek community through dance, sports, and youth activities. Those activities eventually took her to regional and national Greek events that helped open her eyes to the greater Greek-American community. She was a camper and counselor at Ionian Village in Bartholomio, Greece where she first learned to love, of all things, vegetables.
With a degree in Exercise and Sports Science from the University of Utah, Saltas is a full time personal trainer with a specialization in training the aging body. Her passion for health and fitness led her to starting a popular fitness blog which eventually morphed into stories and blogs about healthy foods as well which, of course, means healthy Greek foods. Her blog then led her to compiling her work into her first book, All You Can Greek: Food, Life, Travel, which is available online.
The recipes were emailed to those who registered for the event and are also available on Saltas’ website: https://elenisaltas.com/.
Follow Saltas on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eleni_saltas/.
More information about the event and to make a donation to IOCC, visit iocc.org/lentencooking.