Spring has sprung up. Officially, we started to see longer days and shorter nights. But I am not sure if we can experience a rebirth this year, together with nature, due to recent events – pandemic, war, and an economic crisis are holding us down.
But we are preparing for the Easter, with devoutness, fasting, and praying for the greater good.
Fasting this period is relatively strict. Orthodox Christians are supposed to abstain from meat, fish, dairy product, eggs, even oil! But fasting also incorporates spiritual preparation for the Easter. So, on the food front, whether you ‘keep it strict’ or not, some ‘tricks’ can help you fortify your system with the appropriate nutrients, even as you are avoiding some foods.
First of all, find new ways to consume some foods that will help you. New cooking methods or different combinations can help you absorb more nutrients.
It is important to be aware that Easter fasting will deprive you of the iron you get from meat, so you must consume as much iron from vegetables as you can! Keep in mind that you must combine them with a cereal (like rice, bread, groats) and lots of vitamin C, for better absorption.
A good example are lentils. If you don’t consume lentil soup, you can use them in a salad. It is more convenient this way, and the salads provide refreshment as the Spring days warm up. Lentils are rich in iron and will help you cover the lack of meat this pre-Easter period. They are not as fortified as meat, but it helps! Make the salad with plenty of vinegar or lemon because it has vitamin C, which helps with the absorption of iron (or eat an orange after the meal). A nice lentil salad consists of tomatoes, groats, parsley, anise, spring onions, red peppers, and olive oil. For herbs, sumac and mint are a nice combination.
Also, spinach can help. Spanakopita for breakfast makes you feel full and is ideal with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Spanakorizo, spinach with rice is a traditional meal that is easy to cook, but do not forget your extra lemon in your plate! Heat ‘kills’ vitamin C, so putting it in the pot just gives it flavor, not vitamin C. Cuttlefish, squid, and octopus are good in combination with spinach, giving you the extra protein you need to fill you up. Finally, you can make an easy pesto with spinach! Replace the basil with spinach and add some dried basil for the aroma! Put ground nuts into the pesto and pasta and the meal will give you appropriate protein and carbohydrates.
Fasting requires imagination – remember that you are blessed with what you have in your home. Fasting means feeling satisfaction for your ‘simpler self’, remembering that you are blessed with health, security, and your home.
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
Evropi-Sofia Dalampira holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics and an MSc in Botany-Biology.