…..'A sense of humour lends you poise, it gives you balance and it helps you to bend without breaking'…..

(HH Pujya Gurudev Swami Chinmayananda)

MenUflection; Soul Food

We are in Advent, when all minds turn to Christmas and fall into preparatory mode. For the vast majority, this is a time of family, friends, feasting and, all-in-all, it is one great jamboree, centred around food and presents. It is a time of glut.

Image result for fastingIn Christian tradition, however, the period from 15th November to Christmas Eve is considered as a time to fast. Not in the fullest sense, but insomuch as to keep food minimal and simple throughout the period. Generally, this also means being meat free. Advent is for us to 'feast on the promise of God' that, by focusing on the Higher, our spirit will become so nourished the body will in no way feel depleted.

Whether or not you subscribe to a practice of religious faith, there is a sound nutritional tenet for undertaking a fast or limited eating regime during Advent.

In Hindu tradition, vrat (fast) is a completely natural and accepted part of life. There is a system in place for strict adherents which is governed by the moon. Chaturthi is the fourth day after new (dark) moon and after full (bright) moon. Most who follow any of the Goddess principle or Sri Ganesha will refrain from food during that 24 hour period. For adherents of Sri Rama, Krishna and other related principles, the eleventh day (Ekadashi) applies for vrat. This requires that one has a good understanding of the cycle of the moon. In modern India though, many Indians, for ease of observance, will select one day a week for vrat - very often it is a Monday.

Image result for fastingThe idea is to spend the time, which would otherwise be spent eating, in a state of devotion and/or meditation. The Advent has the same intent behind it.

However, it is actually very healthy to have a period of 'cleanse' for the body. Whilst here it is being spoken of in spiritual context and the cleansing of sins through the penitence implied by fasting, the body also greatly benefits. In warm climates it can certainly be seen as somewhat easier to apply, in that fruit and vegetables are both readily available and easily prepared as salads.

In the cool climes it makes sense to have something hot to eat. This can still be very simple fare. Plain soups of a single vegetable, for instance cauliflower, would be perfect. The key thing for this purpose is that it must be the vegetable and stock only. No roux added... or cheese!

A soup which works very well for heartiness yet remaining very light upon the body is ...

1 standard can of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 large (250 - 300gm) bag of spinach leaves
1 cube of vegetable stock concentrate
1 large teaspoon paprika
1 level teaspoon cumin
1 small teaspoon ground black pepper
pinch of salt.
1 litre of boiling water

Throw it all into a large soup pan, bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Blitz with hand blender, then run through sieve in order to ensure spinach stalks are fully removed. Serve hot in drinking mugs and rye bread to side.

(Why the name? I fed it to the brother and the father and that was what they thought they were drinking. Till they remembered who had cooked it!)

Other foods which are good for keeping it minimal are of course dishes of pulses and lentils. Classic moong dahl served with chapatti (or pita bred if you prefer). Brown rice or Quinoa prepared with diced capsicum and tomato then tossed in some warmed olive oil and seasonings. Black-eye peas and Chickpeas are great foods for this type of fast.

Another aspect of improving the body-spirit connection is to remember to give thanks for the food. No matter how small a meal, how plain, it is provided to nourish the vehicle of the spirit. Regardless of your stance on philosophy of spirit, to have a meal at all is a thing of great mercy and gratitude is a small charge.

Further reading.

One way to introduce fasting if you have not seriously attempted it before is to dedicate the Advent Sundays to fast; perhaps with a porridge breakfast and one meal mid-arvo of the soup or a dahl.

Perhaps for the remaining fortnight, you might consider a fast for focus?


  1. Great post! Actively participating in the Advent season changes everything and makes the holiday more meaningful!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  2. WE are so glad that you are here to help keep us GROUNDED in our thinking and doing. AND to Remember WHY all the HOOPLA is taking place... Thank you.
    We love that soup... and the part about where it got its NAME from... hehehe
    THAT was funny...

  3. my mom bought some organic soups for this time... fortunately they had no soups for dogs :o)


Inquiry and debate are encouraged.
For personal contact, please use the email box on the Wild YAM/Contact page.
Irrelevant, abusive and spam comments will be removed.