Religions: Mithraism

How this Fast Diet Lifestyle works: Eat these meals tomorrow, for a calorie total of less than 600. On another day this week, eat the meals from a different post, another day of eating 600 calories or less. Eat sensibly the other days of the week. That’s it: a simple way to lose weight and be healthier.

The Roman Empire left a big imprint on Europe and many of its influences lingered after the Empire fell. Think: Romance Languages. But its religions did not remain, having been supplanted by Christianity. Many of us are familiar with the deities of their official religion, since the planets bear their names. Few are familiar with a secret cult which flourished among the Roman military and merchants who dealt with the far-flung army. It was the Cult of Mithras and from 100-300 CE, it gave Christianity a run for its money. Although Mithras is mentioned in Persian texts many thousands of years age, his Roman following sprang into existence only in the late 1st century CE. Mithras was a young, clean-shaven, free man who was born from a rock. [why? how? when? who knows] He is friends with Sol, the invincible Sun god. For some reason I can’t explain, Mithras, with the approval of Sol, hunts and kills the Bull, symbol of fertility and vitality. Mithras and Sol then eat the flesh of the Bull and drink its blood. This paves the way for rebirth and renewal and resurrection. The Cult of Mithras was a secret society from which there are no written records. Their temples were built in caves or under-ground, to promote mystery and secrecy in dark places. Every temple had a sculpture or painting of Mithras killing the Bull over the altar. What little we know of their religion involves a baptism [in water? in blood?] to mark the start of a new life; a ritual of pretending to die and then come to life again [perhaps going under-ground then reemerging was symbolic of that]; and a shared communion of wine and food. The religion was monotheistic, unusual in pantheistic Rome, and Mithras’ birthday was December 25th. Perhaps the ‘date’ of Christmas was said to be December 25 [even though it wasn’t] to take the day away from Mithras’ followers. Indeed, many scholars see so many similarities between the two religions that one might think that the Cult of Mithras was established to counter Christianity. Dr Martin Luther King, while at theological school, wrote a paper on the influences of the two religions on each other. The Mithras Cult was a secret males-only society, like a men’s fraternal lodge, and it thrived for several centuries — until it didn’t. Being a member of ‘the in-crowd’ surely attracted members, but that exclusivity also probably killed it. Christianity spoke of resurrection too, but for everyone — not just the few. As the power of the Roman Empire faded, the soldiers left the outposts of service, and the Cult of Mithras dwindled and died, not to be revived.

Eating meat in ritual meals was a big part of the Cult of Mithras. Excavations of temples reveal a variety of bones from the feasts, including rabbit, game birds, and pig. Our breakfast is about the rabbit that got away, causing the hunter to make a cheese meal instead. Our dinner contains meat from the sacrificial bovine itself, cooked in a pie with mushrooms. Of the four Mithraic sites in the UK, one is in Wales, one is in London, and three are on Hadrian’s Wall. These meals are very British.

Welsh Rabbit ScrOmelette: 152 calories 9.5 g fat 0.6 g fiber 11.4 g protein 3.4 g carbs 97.5 mg Calcium   NB: Food values shown are for the ScrOmelette and fruit only, and do not include the optional beveragesPB GF  The origional version of this recipe is served in Old Williamsburg, Virginia at Chowning’s Tavern. We love it for a homey supper, just as people did in Colonial Days and here are the same flavors in breakfast form.

1½ two-oz eggs  HINT: If you are serving one person, crack three 2-oz eggs into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Whip up those eggs and pour half of their volume into a jar with a lid to store in the ‘fridge for next week.  ¼ oz Cheddar cheese ¼ tsp Worcestershire sauce ½ tsp dry mustard 1 oz pear or strawberries  Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water  Optional: 5 oz fruit smoothie or berry-yogurt smoothie [88 calories]

Grate the cheese and stir in the Worcestershire and mustard. Spritz a fry pan with olive oil or non-stick spray and heat over meduim. Whisk and pour in the eggs. Add the cheese mixture and scramble or let cook then fold as an omelette. Prep the fruit and the beverages and ponder the rebellious days of Colonial America.

Steak & Mushroom Pie: 277 calories 5 g fat 7 g fiber 27 g protein 25.6 g carbs 34 mg Calcium Two very compatible flavors together again, topped [not encased] in puff pastry. Similar to a meal enjoyed at The Sign of the Angel in Lacock, Wiltshire, England. A real treat. HINT: recipe serves 2 [TWO], photo shows one serving.

4 oz grilled sirloin steak [leftover from a previous meal, perhaps] 1.5 cups mushrooms 1 Tbsp red wine ¼ cup creamed onions ½ tsp thyme + salt & pepper to taste 1/6 sheet puff pastry [Pepperidge Farm, frozen sheets are easy to find and use]  per person: 1/3 cup peas

Thaw the frozen puff pastry for 40 minutes on the counter. Rewrap and return one sheet to freezer. Remove one of the sheets, unroll it carefully, and cut the sheet into 6 squares. [TIP: stack the remaining 5 pieces with waxed paper or cling wrap between the layers. Pop into a zipper bag and freeze for later use.] Cut the steak into ½”-1” cubes. Combine the meat with the mushrooms, wine, onions, seasonings in an oven-proof dish just large enough to hold the meat mixture yet large enough to be topped with the puff pastry. Heat the meat mixture until it is warm. Lay the puff pastry on top, decoratively slitting the crust. Bake at 400 F. about 15 minutes, until the crust is well-browned. Cook the peas and imagine that you are dining in an English country restaurant.

Ingredients for next week: Breakfast, single portion for Monday …………………………… single portion for Thursday:

1 two-oz egg + Parmesan cheese2 two-oz eggs 
70-calorie whole-grain breadmilk + sugar
half & half [blend cream]white whole wheat flour
apple or strawberriessweet cherries + clementine
Optional smoothieoptional smoothie
optional hot beverageoptional hot beverage

Dinner, single portion for Monday:………………………….. single portion for Thursday:

pork shoulder + garlicslices of cooked roast beef
onion + red wine + olive oilrounds of pickled beets
zucchini + bell pepperDijon mustard+ shallot
Mongol bread or other 86 calorie wine vinegar + olive oil
Sparkling waterSparkling water

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