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Whole Foods Recipes for Lent

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In the Catholic Church and some Protestant faiths, Lent is a time of prayer and abstinence during the weeks before Easter. Mardi Gras -or Fat Tuesday- is the feast that comes just before, and was traditionally a day when rich, fatty foods were used up in preparation for Ash Wednesday, when Lent officially began. Whole foods cooking lends itself easily to Lenten cooking with its abundant and simple vegetarian and seafood recipes, and light, clean desserts. The beauty of whole foods cooking is that it provides flavor and pleasure in eating while still honoring a tradition of purification. The following are some favorite recipes that fit the bill. Many of these recipes contain olive oil, so if you are following strict orthodox guidelines simply substitute another type of oil.

1. White Bean and Herb Spread

Jen Hoy
This herb scented white bean spread is great with raw vegetables, rice crackers, or in a sandwich, and holds well for a few days. Try it slathered on whole grain bread with roasted vegetables and baby arugula or mesclun for a delicious lunch.

2. Lentil Walnut Spread

This rich, cumin scented lentil spread is great on crackers, bread or vegetables. It also makes an excellent sandwich spread.

3. Vegetarian Wild Mushroom Risotto

Jen Hoy
Made with vegetable broth instead of the traditional chicken broth, vegetarian wild mushroom risotto is a deeply satisfying comfort dish that isn't at all difficult to make once you master the basic concept.

4. Potato and Celery Root Soup

This easy recipe for potato, leek and celery root soup is great for a chilly mid-winter day. The soup is creamy without containing any dairy. If you can’t find celery root, add an extra potato and a couple of stalks of celery as a substitute. The entire celery plant is gently anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic, and is healing for the liver, digestion and water regulation in the body. Leeks cleanse excess mucus from the body and are healing for the respiratory system. We love this soup with Roasted Asparagus on Greens with Chevre and Toasted Walnuts or a simple Avocado Arugula and Goat Feta Salad..

5. Roasted Root Vegetable and Cauliflower Soup

This creamy and comforting soup gets its body from the pureed roots rather than butter and cream, and is deeply satisfying. This richly flavored recipe is strengthening for spleen and pancreas, soothing for the nervous system, and dispels excess mucus from the body. It is a wonderful dish for anytime our energy needs grounding. Tarragon, bay leaf and thyme add wonderful flavor to round out this soothing recipe. This soup can be frozen.

6. Creamy Flageolet Bean Soup with Lemon and Sweet Herbs

Jody Hoy
This wonderful recipe for creamy flageolet bean soup with lemon and sweet herbs is lighter than most bean soups, and is an excellent starter or centerpiece for a light vegetarian supper. Flageolets are small beans that range in color from pale green to white. If you cannot find them, substitute white navy beans.

7. Roasted Pumpkin and Leek Soup

This easy recipe for roasted pumpkin soup can be made with sugar or Cinderella pumpkin (pictured), Hokkaido squash, Red Kuri, Kabocha, or any other deep orange, dense squash. Squash and pumpkin are rich in nutrients, especially beta-carotene, and very nourishing to the spleen and stomach. Roasting the vegetables creates a rich and more complex flavor, and actually makes for an easy soup: all you do is add water to the roasted veggies. You can add a dab of Romesco Sauce when serving to give a bit of extra richness to the soup, but we like it as is!

8. Lentil Stew With Fall Vegetables

This hearty recipe for a stew of lentils and fall vegetables is vegan stunner; it has layers of almost meaty flavor and can be served on its own, with steamed grains, or over polenta. Make plenty, as this stew will have people coming back for seconds, and freezes well.

9. Gluten Free Mushroom and Rice Stuffed Zucchini

This versatile recipe for gluten free stuffed zucchini adapts itself to any number of variations. For extra protein, add cooked lentils or cubed, browned tofu. Try adding sweet red peppers, cooked winter squash and any variety of mushrooms. Let your imagination inspire you!

10. Pasta with Broccoli, Greens and Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

This easy recipe for pasta with broccoli, greens and sun dried tomato pesto is a great dish if you’re looking for a one-pot meal. You can add a few white beans for added protein, but it is great on its own, and hearty enough that you’ll feel satisfied. The recipe can be made in about 10 minutes from start to finish (not including the time it takes to boil water), and any leftovers make a great lunch the next day. We serve a simple tossed salad on the side, but this is truly a stand-alone dish if you’re not in the mood for extensive food prep.

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