My Sweetless, Meatless March

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Three soup bowls, M Abood
Rounds with filling POST
Citrus Salad, Maureen Abood
Mujadara with fork close up POST

Easter is late this year. Which means Lent starts late (today). Which means that I have been left far too long out there on my own without this annual tap on the shoulder to stop it already with the constant indulgences.

Hey, there were the holidays to celebrate, then an engagement to celebrate (another glass of bubbly anyone?), then birthdays and Valentine’s Day for which I made one request and one request only of my generous gift-giving people: candy. As in See’s (their chocolate caramel marshmallows rule) and Fabiano’s (perfection in a fabric heart box that is all but demolished by now). You get my drift.

Why can’t I be more like Aunt Hilda or Aunt Louise who, when gifted a fine box of candy, save it. For company. Dan tells me he has never reached for chocolate just for the heck of it until he started hanging around me, and now it has to stop (“I can’t keep doing this”). Good thing he’s so swarthy and all of that.

Fine then. The next sweet I eat will be our wedding cake, that’s what I said as I ate more than a spoonful of Fat Tuesday cake with orange blossom caramel sauce (for the book, and is it goooooOOOOD). That’s June though, and that’s a little crazy. It would be better if I could just have 40 good days of Lent, or even a solid month of March to do the kind of fasting that has always put me on a path toward physical and spiritual good. Or how about this: how about if I take today and try to do today well? Then we’ll see about tomorrow.

Sweetless, Meatless March Menu, Lebanese Style

Spinach Fatayar

Fried Cauliflower with Tahini Sauce

The Best Falafel Ever

Mujadara, Lentils with Caramelized Onion

Citrus Salad with Pomegranate

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  1. Joanna says:

    Maureen, I was touched to read the comments…that gave me a pat on the shoulder too and reminded me of the strong will I had as a kid giving up sweets for Lent…, think I can do that starting today? your posts are motivating and the recipes bring me straight back to my childhood and my grandma’s yummy meatless lent dishes! and how fasting before Easter was really the season we felt we making an effort to curb our cravings! Love your website!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      How wonderful Joanna! Thanks so much, and you CAN do it! May the fasting force be with you!

  2. Elaine Parisi says:


    Love receiving updates to your blog. Great photography . . . just by seeing the picture of your dough and spinach filling, I now have a craving for spinach fatayers!

    There are so many of our Lebanese dishes that are ideal for Lent, but I am always looking for new ones. Can’t wait for your cookbook!

    My best,

    Elaine Parisi

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Elaine, that’s so kind–thank you! I look forward to sharing my book with you!

  3. Richard Abood says:

    Mujahada served very hot with cold Laban and cucumbers poured on top and fresh pita or flat bread and lebanese salad,
    After that, a big bowl of french vanilla ice cream with mixed salted nuts and chocolate sryup on top.
    Consider it part fasting and part reward. LOve, Uncle Dick

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Mmmmmmmmmmm! Sounds wonderful, Uncle Dick!

  4. Chrysoulla says:

    I am not sure by what little I read if Is this Catholic or Orthodox by seeing “meatless and sweetless” or is this yet another belief? I am Orthodox and although meat and dairy are what we traditionally give up, there is still room for non dairy sweets on our menus. I, myself, have resolved that our Lent tradition is a man-made need and not biblical at all, so I don’t adhere to it. Growing up, I thought it was biblical the way we were admonished for trying to sneek a piece of this or that, which is normally forbidden. Getting back to sweet fare… we have cakes with no dairy that are very good; cognac or whiskey is added along with scraped citrus peel (mostly oranges). If you need one of these recipes, let me know, but they do have sugar in them… nice site ! thank you!

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Chrysoulla, thank you–we don’t have any restrictions on sweets per se, I’m just giving them up because I need to!! Too much sugar in my life! Your cakes sound delicious…

  5. Laura says:

    I feel your pain. Fasting today and I’m looking at photos of food on your blog! What am I thinking? Basically wanted to come by and wish you a good Lent March – one day at a time. We can do it. Not eating meat does not kill me – fasting does. Ugh. Sipping lots of tea . . . .

  6. Fadia says:

    Syam moubarak, Maureen. We, Lebanese, have so many different vegeratrian dishes that we can eat meatless most of the time!!! I enjoy your e-mails and recipes always. You make me feel close to home. Thank you

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thanks so much Fadia!

  7. Stephen says:

    It’s really nice to read your posts. They remind me too much of growing up around the same foods and traditions. At some point you should write a column or ask your readers for their “alternative” nicknames for some of the standard Lenten fare. The “dreaded-itis” was a mainstay on Friday’s. (we didn’t have the caramelized onions). Good luck with your candy abstinence, you’re probably going to need it.

    Much Love

    1. Maureen Abood says:

      I do need good luck Stephen, thank you!