Julian, the Anchorite

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.

Would you enjoy being walled into a tiny room, walled off from the world, after having to pay for the privilege? Can’t say that would appeal to most people, but in the Middle Ages in Europe, this would have been a lifestyle choice. Such was the fate of an ‘anchorite.’ The original anchorites, from the Greek word anachorein meaning ‘to go apart,’ lived in the deserts of the Holy Land and Egypt. Paul of Thebes walked into the desert around 250 CE and never returned. He lived in total isolation in a cave for 70 years, until he was visited by Saint Anthony the day before he died. The idea of renouncing the world to seek a closer relationship with God became a goal for several. By the Middle Ages, women were choosing to be anchorites — to flee an unhappy marriage, to flee the complexities of their lives, to gain control over their own fates. They would apply to a church or convent, pass an entry interview, and prove that they had sufficient funds for a life of being fed by others. Then they were immured. A room, 12 feet x 12 feet, would be built onto the wall of the church. This would be the anchorite’s home for the rest of her life. There was a tiny window that looked outside to the world, a small window for watching the daily Mass and for receiving communion, and a larger window in a third wall that was a pass-through for food. And there she would be walled-up — following a funeral service to mark that she was indeed ‘dead to the world.’ One of the most famous anchorites was ‘Julian of Norwich,’ 1342-c.1417. She had visions which she wrote down in her Revelations of Divine Love — the first book in English attributed to a woman. People, especially women, came to visit her and ask her advice. By withdrawing from the world to a cell at the Church of Saint Julian in Norwich, Julian became famous, sought-after, and saintly — even though no one knew her real name! Although she was never elevated to sainthood, she is considered the patron saint of cats. Julian’s optimism and understanding of God’s ‘motherhood’ might be the inspiration for her comforting words to all of God’s children: “All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Anchorites often ate very little, as a way to mortify the flesh. When they did eat, they were served the same fare as the monks or nuns of the parent community: porridge or other vegetarian meals. Our foods today consist of a simple but delicious breakfast and a classic vegan dinner.

Fruited Porridge: 183 calories 1.4 g fat 9 g fiber 7 g protein 38 g carbs 36 mg Calcium  NB: Food values given are for the plated foods only, and do not include the optional beverage.   PB Here is a delicious way to get your superfoods in one meal. Berries and whole-grain cereal are unbeateble together and easy to prepare as well.

¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill 10-Grain Cereal + ¾ cup water ¼ cup diced strawberries ¼ cup blueberries ¼ cup raspberries   Optional: blackish coffee [53 calories] or blackish tea or mocha cafe au lait [65 calories] or lemon in hot water 

If the fruit is frozen, as mine was: place in a sieve over a small bowl the night before to thaw. Save the juice to add to a smoothie. Cook the cereal in the water for 8 minutes, stiring twice. Take off heat and add the fruit. Stir gently and serve with a little milk, if you wish.

Red Beans & Rice: 295 calories 1 g fat 9 g fiber 11 g protein 60 g carb 142 mg Calcium  PB GF  This is the old classic recipe for the ‘perfect protein’. Once we were afraid that we wouldn’t like it – it sounds so bland – but we do like it. Yeah, you’re right, the carbs are way out of control, but these complex carbs are really good for you. HINT: This is enough for 4 servings. Either have a gathering or cut the recipe or freeze for later.

1¾ cups brown rice, cooked ½ cup celery, chopped ½ cup sweet yellow or other color pepper, diced 1 cup onion, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced ¾ cup crushed tomato oregano black pepper 1¾ cups red beans, drained and rinsed ½ cup green beans or peas

Start cooking the rice 60 minutes ahead of time. Saute the celery, pepper, and onions for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 5 minutes more. Add the tomato sauce and seasonings. Stir in the red beans and heat through. Measure out the cooked rice and add to the mixture.  HINT: if there is extra rice, it freezes well. Serve with the cooked green vegetable. 


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