10 Lent-Friendly Meal Ideas

Take the guess work out of meal prepping with these tasty meatless meals. 

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By Olivia DeLong

For active Christians, Lent is a holy time of prayer and focus that begins on Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter. During this time, abstaining from meat on Fridays is a common practice for those who are able.  

If you're accustomed to eating a lot of chicken, beef or pork, this is the perfect time to experiment with new proteins and dishes. In fact, there are many health benefits of a meatless diet, including a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Whether you’re looking for Lent-ready fish and veggie recipes or you’re just striving to eat less meat in general, here are 10 family-friendly meal ideas to get you started.

Breakfast Burrito

2 / 11 Breakfast Burrito

1 jumbo egg plus 3 egg whites, beaten
1 scallion, white part only, chopped
2 tablespoons low-fat cream cheese
2 tablespoons black beans
3 tablespoons chunky garden-style salsa
1 10-inch flour tortilla

In a nonstick skillet, cook the egg and onion. When the eggs are almost done, stir in the cream cheese and beans. Then place the tortilla over the eggs in the skillet until warm. Remove the tortilla, top with scrambled egg mixture and salsa, then roll up.

Get the full recipe for this Mexican-inspired breakfast dish.

Maple, Walnut and Flaxseed Pancakes

3 / 11 Maple, Walnut and Flaxseed Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups reduced-fat (2%) buttermilk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 large egg
1 tablespoon (or more) vegetable oil
Additional pure maple syrup

Whisk flour, flaxseed meal, walnuts, baking powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl. Separately whisk buttermilk, 1/4 cup maple syrup and egg. Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients and whisk just until incorporated. Brush a large nonstick skillet lightly with vegetable oil and heat over medium heat. Working in batches, add batter to skillet by ¼ cupfuls. Cook until bubbles appear on surface of pancakes and undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Turn pancakes over and cook until golden on bottom, about 2 minutes. Brush skillet lightly with vegetable oil as needed between batches. Serve with additional maple syrup.

Get the full recipe for this protein-packed crowd pleaser.

Tomato Asparagus Salad

4 / 11 Tomato Asparagus Salad

1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed
8 cups romaine lettuce, torn
1/3 cup low fat Italian salad dressing
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded

Cook asparagus in boiling water 5-6 minutes or until crisp-tender; plunge into ice water to stop cooking. Divide lettuce between 6 plates, arrange asparagus and tomatoes on top and drizzle with Italian dressing. Sprinkle with cheese and chill 1 hour before serving.

Get the full recipe for this light and fresh side dish.

Mexican Tuna Tostadas

5 / 11 Mexican Tuna Tostadas

8 corn tortillas (6 inches each)
3 tablespoons canola oil 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped chipotle pepper 
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice 
1 tablespoon tequila 
1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce 
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/4 teaspoon sugar 
1 lb sushi-grade tuna, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 avocado, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 scallions (green part only), thinly sliced
3 tablespoons hulled pumpkin seeds

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 2 rounds from each tortilla with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Brush both sides of all tortilla rounds using a total of 1 tablespoon of oil, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Place rounds in 1 layer on cookie sheets; bake until crisp and edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven.

Whisk together chipotle, remaining oil, lime juice, tequila, adobo sauce, cumin, sugar and remaining salt in a bowl. Place tuna, avocado, 2/3 of scallions and 2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds in another bowl. Pour dressing over top and gently stir to coat, trying not to  break up avocado. Spoon tuna mixture onto tortilla rounds. Top with 1 tablespoon remaining pumpkin seeds and 1/3 of scallions.

Get the full recipe for this flavorful main course.

Mushroom Rigatoni

6 / 11 Mushroom Rigatoni

8 ounces uncooked gigli, radiatore or penne pasta
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup sliced shallots
8 ounces sliced shiitake mushroom caps
4 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 cup (4 ounces) grated Asiago cheese, divided
Cooking spray
Thyme sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well. Set cooked pasta aside.

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, 1 tablespoon thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic; sauté 8 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Place flour in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat; gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring mixture to a boil; cook 1 minute or until slightly thick, stirring constantly with a whisk. Remove from heat; add 1/2 cup cheese, stirring until melted. Add pasta and mushroom mixture to cheese mixture, tossing well to combine.

Spoon pasta mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish lightly coated with cooking spray; sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese. Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.    

Get the full recipe for this creamy main course.

Norwegian-Style Oven Roasted Salmon Recipe

7 / 11 Norwegian-Style Oven Roasted Salmon Recipe

1/3 cup of honey
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz garlic, minced
1/4 tablespoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons white wine
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 oz parsley leaves, chopped
Six 3-oz salmon fillets

Combine honey, lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, paprika, coriander, wine, oil and parsley and mix well. Pour over salmon and marinate overnight in refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Remove fish from marinade and place in baking pan. Discard marinade. Bake salmon for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Get the full recipe for this easy-to-make seafood dish.

Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger

8 / 11 Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger

4 Portobello mushrooms, stems removed
3/4 cup sake
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Juice of one lemon
4 crusty rolls
1/2 cup watercress
Grilled yellow and bell peppers (optional)
Vegan mayo (optional)

Mix all marinade ingredients, sake, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and juice of one lemon, together. Place mushrooms (gills up) on baking sheet. Gently spoon marinade over mushrooms every 10 minutes for a half hour. Using a grill brush, grease up your grill with olive oil. Preheat with medium or high heat.

Place mushrooms (gills up) on grill. Close lid and let mushrooms grill for about 5 minutes, lifting the lid to baste with marinade every few minutes.

Flip mushrooms over and cook for 3 minutes. Grill times may vary, so gently press where stems used to be. Once they’re soft and juicy, remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes. If using peppers, baste peppers with olive oil before grilling.

Arrange sandwich with watercress, peppers and mayo (if using).

Get the full recipe for this healthy and hearty burger.

Cheddar Cheese and Broccoli Soup

9 / 11 Cheddar Cheese and Broccoli Soup

1 lb broccoli
1 teasbspoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
14 1/2 oz reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 12-oz can evaporated fat-free milk
1 1/4 cups shredded, reduced-fat cheddar cheese (such as Cabot's 50% reduced-fat cheddar)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Salt, to taste

Trim and peel broccoli stems, then cut off 15 small florets. Coarsely chop enough remaining broccoli to equal 2 cups. Blanch chopped broccoli and florets in boiling water just until bright green, about 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute. Add broth and milk. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture simmers and thickens, about 5 minutes. Add chopped broccoli, cheese, pepper, nutmeg and salt. Stir until cheese melts and soup is heated through, about 3 minutes. Garnish each bowl with reserved broccoli florets.

Get the full recipe for this creamy classic.

Lentil Burger

10 / 11 Lentil Burger

2 cups cooked black lentils
1 egg
3 tablespoons coconut aminos or soy sauce
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 cup chopped carrots
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 cup finely chopped onions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a food processor, process 1 cup of the lentils, the egg, aminos and wild rice until roughly pureed. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the carrots, cumin, walnuts, oregano, flax seeds, parsley, garlic and onions until well combined. You can also put it all into the food processor, but be careful not to purée too finely so you have some texture in each bite.

Mix in the remaining cup of lentils, form 8 patties and bake for about 25 minutes. If you like, serve with salsa or avocado.

Get the full recipe for this meatless burger.

Almond Crusted Tilapia

11 / 11 Almond Crusted Tilapia

1.5 oz whole almonds (about 36) 
2 tablespoons saffron threads 
1 oz whole wheat pita bread 
1 teaspoon sea salt 
1 tablespoon black pepper 
1 egg white 
1 1/4 lb tilapia (or perch, orange roughy, whitefish or catfish)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grind almonds, saffron threads, whole wheat pita, salt and pepper in grinder. Whisk egg white and brush on fish. Roll fish in almond mixture. Bake for 20 minutes.

Get the full recipe for this light dinner.

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