Mujjadara: Fasting for Lent in our allergen-free home


I’ve been really excited about Lent this year, because we’re actually participating in the Fast this time.

William has a lot of food sensitivities (gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, fish, nuts, yeast, red meat…oh MY gosh, I could go on all day) that cause vomiting and other extreme digestive issues. So in the past, we’ve sort of operated under the assumption that we were quite challenged enough in the dietary arena, thank you.

But, while I pinky-promise not to judge if that’s where you are–we found, over time, that this philosophy stopped being beneficial for us.

For me, not fasting led to a lack of moderation completely. And lack of moderation led to indulgence in food, which, from a fasting perspective, led to indulgence of anger, impatience with kids, etc., and oh, forget it! What fast?

Well, I’m not sure how it came about, but Will and I decided it was going to be a lentils, rice, and hummus sort of Lent. And I found myself excited. A wonderful spiritual journey awaits–one I haven’t had the privilege to experience since somewhere around 2009.

A season in which we tell our bodies that they don’t make the rules.

A season that slows down our ever-churning lives and nudges us to live peacefully, quietly, prayerfully.

A season in which we use food as a tool to teach our kids self-control.

And yeah. A season without chicken or (allergen-free) chocolate.

So today, I made an Israeli lentils and rice pilaf called Mujjadara (recipe’s here…I substitute out the broth for water, which, strangely, I think is better anyway, and I also double it). I figured since William likes plain rice, he’d like this, too.

Turns out…no.

“No! No, please! Nooooo!” he wailed, while I tried to persuade him to try just a bite.

Ultimately, he begrudgingly picked up a grain of rice in his pincer fingers, and swallowed it as fast as he could. “See? That’s good, right?” I prompted.

“No! Want white rice, please!”

So that’s how that went.

I’m not sure how this Lent will unfold. We might end up right back in our old “allergen-free-is-plenty-fasting” pattern, which would be fine if that’s what will be best for our souls.

All I know right now is that I sure am glad William tried Mujjadara.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jenny says:

    I completely get it. My son is a bit older than yours at 13. We don’t have allergies, just a very small list of what the kids approve of. I love the reminder of not letting our bodies be in control. Food is so hard! For some, starting fasting can be a slow progression – like no dessert, or meat, but strict on Wed and Fri. and Holy Week. Then progress the following year. But kids can experience self control in other ways, too, like screen time! Mom! No! I heard a cool idea of draping purple fabric over restricted items as a visual reminder. Our son needs a lot of visual cues. Also, try a couple shorter weekday services, in the back with fidgets of course! But definitely having your kids watch you reading a book like Lenten Spring (if you don’t have it get it!) and in prayer will all be visual cues. I wish you a blessed fast that your son will recognize as a time set apart, not for us, but for God.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. mauraoprisko says:

      Exactly, Jenny! I love the idea of purple cloth “reminders”–such a neat idea. There’s so many things we can do to involve our kids, but I find myself limited by my own brain. 🙂 I love comments like this because it opens up a whole new world of ideas. Thanks for your input!


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