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Avocado Chimichurri

IMG_9163Dear human beings,

You NEED this in your life. Fasting or not, you have got to make this, and I can’t believe I haven’t put it on this blog until now, because it’s a big favorite around here.

But no worries. I’m here now. To change lives.

Avocados are nice. Guacamole is good. Chimichurri is better. We like to eat ours on top of toasted sourdough bread, but you could dip it with chips, or heck, eat it by the spoonful. You won’t be sad.

Avocado Chimichurri

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and cubed

Whisk it all together, except for the avocados. Fold those in at the end. Eat it on bread or with chips or all by itself.

(I often omit the cilantro because I have weirdos in my house. It’s excellent that way, too.)

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Fried Rice

One of the fasting staples around here is fried rice. We use it as a main dish at least once a week. I love it because it’s so easy to whip up in a short amount of time, it’s a great way to use up leftover rice, and it’s quite versatile: use white or brown rice, use any kind of vegetables, go heavier or lighter on them, substitute any oil you prefer for the coconut oil–but you really need the sesame oil, or it won’t taste right. 

This is especially great if not everyone in your home is fasting, because you can easily add meat and/or eggs to it for those who aren’t, and leave the rest lenten-style for those who are. Here’s a basic version, but keep in mind that all measurements are very much approximate; it’s really just to taste.

Fried Rice
Serves 2-4

4 cups rice, cooked
1 bunch green onions, chopped (green and white parts)
1-2 bags of frozen stir-fry vegetables* or about 2 cups of vegetables of your choice, chopped
1/2 cup beansprouts (optional)
1 cup shrimp, cooked (optional)
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pan or wok, heat the oils over medium heat and cook the onions till tender. Add the veggies and cook till they are as soft as you like. Add the rice and soy sauce, stir until well combined. Then add the cooked shrimp, if using. Stir fry until hot. Season with salt and pepper, if needed, and serve immediately. This also reheats quite well, of course.

*If you use the frozen veggies, you may want to cook them ahead of time to make sure all the liquid is gone.

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Freeze it

How can I make the upcoming lenten season a little quieter?

Unlike Great Lent, the Nativity fast falls during a period when many people are extra busy. It seems slightly more difficult to me to approach this season with due reverence and quietude, simply because there is so much to be done. (And there’s not nearly as much on my plate as there is for many others!)

In the interest of simplifying my life during this time, I plan to make extra lenten meals that can be frozen. There are two Wednesdays and two Fridays left before the fast begins for those of us on the new calendar, so why not use those opportunities to make double batches of food? I think I shall–and more besides.

Do you have a favorite lenten recipe that freezes well? Please share it!

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Food is not the point

This is a recipe blog and nothing else. I don’t plan to post anything unrelated to food in it or make it a commentary on Orthodox fasting. But please bear with me for just one post that doesn’t include a recipe.

Although I call this Sans Soy Vegan, the aim here is to make a collection of recipes for the purpose of observing the two hundred or so fast days of each Orthodox year. Being a non-vegan convert, I am having to learn a new way of cooking in order to take part in the fasts.

But it’s not just a new way of cooking, it’s a new way of looking at food in general. It is relatively easy to avoid certain kinds of foods. Avoiding certain amounts of foods is an entirely different matter (I know I have completely defeated the purpose of fasting before by eating far too much of foods that are “allowed”)–and even more difficult is keeping one’s focus on prayer and meditation. I am constantly reminded during a fast of the reason why I am eating less and different foods, but it’s all too easy to let those thoughts be fleeting. Part of the problem is my own imagination and sloth. Another part, and a significant one, is the distractions of daily life. Things need to be cleaned, children need tending to–and I have to feed myself and my family. But it seems to me that during a fast, food should not be a focus. If it is, then what kind of fasting is it?

For someone who is new to Orthodox fasting, it takes time to learn how to put together foods that are palatable and inexpensive–hence, this blog. But I hope that over time, I will update here with less frequency until eventually I rarely or never post anything new, because I don’t need to think about it.

In the meantime, I hope others will find these recipes useful. I leave you with something from Blessed Seraphim:

Prayer, fasting, vigils, and all other Christian practices, however good they may be in themselves, certainly do not constitute the aim of our Christian life: they are but the indispensable means of attaining that aim. For the true aim of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for fasts, vigils, prayer and almsgiving, and other good works done in the name of Christ, they are only the means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God. Note well that it is only good works done in the name of Christ that bring us the fruits of the Spirit.

–St. Seraphim of Sarov

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What this blog is for

Hello, world. This is the inaugural post of Sans Soy Vegan.

Just by way of an introduction, my name is Rachael. I am a new convert to the Orthodox Church. I am 27 years old and live near Houston, Texas with my husband and two young daughters.

What is this blog all about?

Well, there are approximately 200 fasting days per year in the Orthodox Church. This does not mean complete abstention from food, but simply from certain foods: meat (except for shellfish), dairy products, wine, and oil. On specific fast days fish, wine, and oil are allowed. But for about half the year, an Orthodox Christian who observes the fasts will be on a vegan diet.

Many vegans consume large amounts of soy. Tofu can replace meat and other soy products are a significant source of protein. But soy is not necessary to a vegan diet, and many people have concerns over the safety of non-fermented soy products.

That’s what this blog is for: the collection of fast-friendly–aka vegan–recipes that are not only tasty, but also soy-free. Whether you are Orthodox, vegan, or just someone who is on the lookout for a good new dish to try, I hope you’ll read! (And for the record, because I am primarily concerned with meals for Orthodox fasting and not veganism per se, some recipes may include shellfish, or fish for relaxed fast days. Sorry, die-hard vegan friends, I hope you’ll still find the other recipes useful.)

If you have a recipe to share, don’t hesitate! I’m working on building my own collection and am always on the prowl for something interesting. If I try it and like it, I’ll include it here.

Bon apetit!

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