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The Raw, Cold Truth About the First Week of the Fast: What Household Xerophagy Looks Like

I may have been practicing the traditional Great Fast for years now, but I'm still learning as I go. For example, I learned a few years ago that for Pure Week, the first week of the Great Fast, its customary, especially in monasteries, to eat a diet of cold uncooked food, like vegetables, fruit, and nuts, along with bread and water until after the Presanctified Liturgy on Wednesday evening. This is known as ”Xerophagy” or “eating dry” and it is meant to reduce the preparation of the meal that day so as to allow more time for prayer services. I once lamented to an online friend who cooks the meals in a religious community that he had it easy, feeding grown men, who are all monastics yet and would uncomplainingly eat whatever he put in front of them. Moms often have a much more difficult time, with a much less complacent community to cook for! When my own children were smaller, I must admit that we didn't do this for the first three days of the fast, but now that they are older and each of us wants to travel a bit farther down the path to austerity, so to speak, we've given this a try and I have a few recipes to share that just may make it a possibility at your house too.


Raw Zucchini Noodles with Raw Tomato Sauce

This was the very first, and most widely liked of the raw recipes our family has tried. It's great if you have a spiralizer, but if not, a box grater or mandolin shredder works well too.


1 raw young zucchini or yellow squash per person, shredded on a mandolin or box grater into spaghetti-like strips

​Place shredded squash into a colander in the sink and ​sprinkle ​lightly with some salt.  Let it drain for a few ​minutes while you prepare the sauce. 


4 sundried tomatoes, soaked in 1 Tbsp lemon juice

4 fresh (plum) tomatoes

1 small onion, peeled

2 cloves garlic, peeled

3 pitted dates

1 red bell pepper, seeded

½ cup raw cashews (walnuts, or pine nuts work well too)

Tsp dried oregano

Salt and pepper to taste

Place the ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  When you are ready to serve, gently squeeze any remaining liquid from the zucchini noodles and portion onto bowls or plates.  Top each portion with some of the tomato sauce and garnish with chopped basil or parsley if desired. Now remember, this recipe can be altered to suit almost every taste. You can shred or spiralize all kinds of vegetables instead of zucchini. There's yellow squash, sweet potato, cucumber, carrot, parsnip, turnip, celeriac, beet, shredded broccoli or cauliflower stems...go crazy! And as for the sauces...there are so many raw sauces you can make! There's a great raw cashew cheese sauce, a pumpkin curry sauce, pesto, asian sweet chili sauce, walnut sauce...I plan to make another entire post on that topic soon and link it here. Try this one:

Raw Yam Noodles in Peanut Sauce

This recipe is like a raw version of Pad-Thai! Its a favorite here too.


​½ medium yam per person, shredded,spiralized, or finely julienned into noodles

​½ cup thinly shredded cabbage (red or green) per person

​½ cup raw baby spinach per person

Prepare vegetables and place in a large mixing bowl.


​1 clove garlic

​1 small piece fresh ginger

​1 pitted date

​Juice and zest of one lime

​3 Tbsp peanut butter (or tahini)

​1 Tbsp soy sauce (or liquid aminos)

​1 tsp-1 Tbsp sriracha (optional, amount to taste)

​  ¼ cup water to thin the sauce

​​Place the sauce ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.  Stir the sauce into the prepared ​​​vegetables and allow it to wilt them for a minute or two.  You can garnish with chopped peanuts, ​​​sesame seeds, chopped scallions or cilantro, or extra hot sauce if desired.


Raw Taco Salad Wraps

These raw wraps are so good; I've been asked to share this recipe quite often!

​2 cups walnuts, soaked for at least 30 minutes, and drained

​½ cup sundried tomatoes, soaked with the walnuts, and drained

​2 Tbsp ground cumin

​2 Tbsp taco seasoning

​2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

​1 Tbsp soy sauce (or liquid aminos)

​1 Tbsp sriracha (adjust to suit your taste)

​Dash of garlic powder

​Salt and pepper to taste

​​Pulse all of the above ingredients in a food processor until ​​chopped, but still somewhat chunky.

​​Serve on lettuce leaves as a wrap, or on a tortilla, with ​​chopped tomato, onion and avocado, and with some ​​Cashew Sour Cream.  

​​​(see the Substitution section on page​)

Raw Cauliflower and Hemp Seed Tabbouleh

This recipe is so very versatile.  It can be served as is if you’re looking for a raw salad, but if you’re looking to be more traditional, you can substitute your favorite grain, like bulgur wheat, quinoa, farro or even rice instead of the cauliflower, or mix it half and half if you like more veggies and less carbohydrate.  To make a complete protein, you can add some canned or cooked chick peas as well! And if it’s NOT a fast day, we like to give it a good splash of some extra virgin olive oil.  

​1 head of raw cauliflower, cleaned and cut into large chunks

​2 chopped tomatoes, medium dice

​1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into medium dice

​1 small onion, chopped to medium dice

​1 large bunch of fresh parsley, washed and finely chopped

​½ - 1 cup raw hemp seed (optional, but adds a nice texture and lots of nutrition!)

​Juice of one lemon, (zest optional)

​1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint, or 1 tsp dried mint

​Salt and pepper to taste

​​Pulse the chunks of cauliflower in a food processor or blender until it forms a rice-like texture.  

​​Place it into a mixing bowl, and add all the other ingredients.  Stir well to mix and let stand for at ​​​least half an hour before serving for the flavors to blend well.  Serve as it is, or on a pita with ​​​lettuce.

Salads Remember that household xerophagy doesn't have to be just lettuce in a bowl with a plain splash of vinegar. You can have a different raw salad every single night by varying the combination of vegetables and throwing together a delicious and nutritious blended dressing from my recipe chart! Smoothies

Smoothies and juices are a great source of nutrition that take very little prep time and can take the place of a cooked meal any day. If you're ready to take it to the next level, you might just want to consider incorporating raw food into your fasting adventure. Whether for just the first three, or the entire 40 days, going entirely raw or just substituting in a few raw meals here and there, I think you'll find it a great way to give your digestive tract a rest and even boost your energy level a bit so you can handle all those prostrations!

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