During the Lenten season, food choices are more limited as we choose to observe religious fasting traditions. This can make it difficult for some who are observing Lent to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. However, nutritious and tasty meals can still be prepared by selecting food items that are permissible to eat.
One of the main restrictions during Lent is that meat is prohibited on Fridays and Ash Wednesday. However, many of us choose to observe a vegetarian diet, free of meat and all animal bi-products, throughout the cuaresma. This means we can rely on plant-based proteins, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables as the foundation of our meals. One example of a Lent-friendly, vegetarian meal is utan Bisaya, soup with malunggay, kalabasa and sometimes fish.
Seafood such as fish and shellfish are OK on Fridays during the Lenten Season. Those who can afford can have shrimp, squid and other expensive seafood menu. While those who only have enough can make do with fish.
Eggs are allowed. These can be perfect for breakfast. For dinner, hard-boiled eggs with vinegar and sliced cucumber, onion and tomato can be a good source of protein, vitamins, calcium and other minerals. Then there’s the dried fish, a staple in a Cebuano home. It can be fried, “subak” to the utan Bisaya or grilled. There’s also the ginamos or uyap. Just add rice and you’re all set for a hearty meal.
It is important to remember that Lent does not need to be a restrictive eating period. Eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet is important, so proper portion sizes and food combinations should be taken into account when planning meals. However, there are plentiful options for those observing Lent that still allow for a tasty and healthful diet.