Foods that Symbolizes Easter from around the world
Originally a celebration of spring and fertility, Easter originated from a Northern hemisphere pagan celebration known as Eastre. For Christians around the world Easter has primarily become known as the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, for many people Easter takes its origins from pagan customs, focusing on specific foods and enjoying the holiday that accompany this period.
Traditional Easter food varies from country to country, with Australia celebrating a diversity of different foods including:
Good Friday is often described as the day of “greatest grief” for Christians. Many traditions and superstitions are associated with this day but perhaps the most widespread custom is the eating of fish, said to be an alternative for meat out of respect to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.
The Legend Of John Dory
The John Dory fish (which is also known as St Peter’s fish in Europe) is a mild and delicate white flesh fish best when grilled whole or roasted in the oven. The delicacy of the Dory also lends itself to poaching and steaming and serving with subtle South-East Asian flavours. It is a popular choice for Good Friday feasts.
The Dory’s alternate name ‘St Peters Fish’ refers to the “thumbprint” on the fish’s side. This mark is said to have resulted from Christ instructing St Peter to go fishing, correctly predicting he would catch a fish containing a silver coin in its mouth, for him to give to the tax collector. The skin of the John Dory marked by two dark “thumbprints” is said to be where Peter held the fish to retrieve the coin.
Of all the symbols associated with Easter, the egg (symbol of fertility and new life) is the most identifiable.
Traditionally, Easter eggs were painted with bright colours to represent spring and were used in Easter-egg rolling contests or given as gifts. After they were coloured and etched with various designs, lovers and romantic admirers, much the same as valentines, exchanged the eggs.
Different cultures have developed their own ways of using eggs in their traditional Easter foods. In Greece, crimson eggs (to honour the blood of Christ) are exchanged; Slavic peoples decorate their eggs in special patterns of gold and silver; In Italy eggs are found in soups such as Brodetto Pasquale (a broth-based Easter soup thickened with eggs) and in many different breads, such as in Calabria where a whole egg is inserted into the holes in the braid.
The easter bunny also has its origin in pre-Christian fertility lore. The hare and the rabbit were well known for their fertility and served as symbols of the new life during spring. The first edible easter bunnies (made of pastry and sugar) were made in Germany during the early 1800s. The Germans were also responsible for bringing the symbol of the easter rabbit to America.
Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns have a mixed history. Some attribute them right back to the pagan spring festival and say only later where monks, wanting to give a Christian meaning to the tradition, gave them the cross. Other accounts are entirely Christian in their origin, explaining the cross as a reminder of the cross Jesus was killed on.
Hot cross buns were traditionally eaten at breakfast time on Good Friday with buns baked on Good Friday supposedly having magical powers. Other superstitions include:
• Hardened old hot cross buns protect the house from fire.
• You could keep a hot cross bun that had been made on Good Friday for at least a year without it going mouldy.
• Sailors took hot cross buns to sea with them to prevent shipwreck.
• A bun baked on Good Friday and left to get hard could be grated up and put in warm milk to stop an upset tummy.
However, whatever their origin, the delicious combination of spicy, sweet and fruity flavours continues to be a traditional Easter favourite.
The dove (symbol of peace and resurrection) plays a popular part in Italian Easter celebrations. In northern Italy, specialty bread baked in the shape of a dove and studded with orange peel, raisins and almonds is eaten on Easter Sunday.
The Lamb, signifier of birth and new life, is a major component of many Italian and Greek Easter feasts. Historically, whole baby lamb, was roasted or grilled over open air spits and while this tradition still persists, many today opt for the more convenient option of lamb roast for Sunday lunches and dinners.
Like many other European holidays, Pancake Day was originally a pagan holiday. The eating of pancakes was an important part of Shrovetide week. The word shrove is a form of the English word shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one’s sins and celebrated the beginning of Spring. Later adopted by the Christian’s it is now know as “Shrove Tuesday”, the last day of celebration and feasting before the period of fasting required during the Lenten season. Lent is a period of time leading up to Easter where Christians, who traditionally follow the English tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday came about as a way to use as much milk, fats, and eggs before Ash Wednesday and the fasting period began.
Capirotada Bread Pudding
Is a kind of spiced Mexican bread pudding filled with raisins, cinnamon, cloves and cheese that is popular during the Easter period. It’s said that each ingredients carries a reminder of the suffering of Christ – the cloves being the nails on the cross, the cinnamon sticks the wooden cross and the bread the Body of Christ himself.
Families in many Orthodox Christian countries, including Bulgaria, Georgia and Russia, will bake a Kulich cake at Easter. The cakes are baked in tall tins, and decorated with white icing and colourful sprinkles or flowers. A priest often blesses the cake after Easter service.
Maundy Thursday is known as “Green Thursday” in Germany, when Germans traditionally eat green-coloured foods.
Paçoca de Amendoim
A delicious treat made from peanuts, sugar and cassava flour. This Brazilian tradition is often served in honour of the Easter festival.
Is a pyramid-shaped dessert made from cheese is traditionally served at Easter in Russia. The dish is often decorated with religious symbols, such as the letters XB, from “Christos Voskres”, which means “Christ is Risen”.
Colomba di Pasqua
Similar in taste to the Italian Christmas bread panettone, Colomba di Pasqua is a candied peel-stuffed cake that is often shaped like a dove.
Is a brioche-like bread, flavoured with an essence drawn from the seed of wild cherries, is often decorated with hard-boiled eggs that have been dyed red, to symbolise the blood of Christ.
Rather like a large hot cross bun, pinca is a sweet bread marked with the sign of the cross that is commonly eaten to celebrate the end of Lent in Slovenia and Croatia. It’s also enjoyed in some areas of Italy
Mona de Pascua
A popular Easter cake traditionally cooked in several regions of Spain during Semana Santa (holy week). Traditionally, it resembles a large doughnut topped with a hardboiled egg.
The roast lamb dinner that many eat on Easter Sunday goes back earlier than Easter to the first Passover of the Jewish people. The sacrificial lamb was roasted and eaten, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs in hopes that the angel of God would pass over their homes and bring no harm. As Hebrews converted to Christianity, they naturally brought along their traditions with them. The Christians often refer to Jesus as The Lamb of God. Thus, the traditions merged.
His a traditional Easter food in the United States, . In the early days, meat was slaughtered in the fall. There was no refrigeration, and the fresh pork that wasn’t consumed during the winter months before Lent was cured for spring. The curing process took a long time, and the first hams were ready around the time Easter rolled around. Thus, ham was a natural choice for the celebratory Easter dinner.
Were first shaped to indicate the torso of a person with arms folded, praying.
Easter Biscuits are sometimes called “Cakes”, and are eaten on Easter Sunday. They contain spices, currants and sometimes grated lemon rind and are often made into shapes such as eggs or bunnies.
Resources: wikipedia.org, ww.telegraph.co.uk, www.paddys.com.au, http://homecooking.about.com/
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If you’ve stopped adding salt to your food, you could still be getting too much sodium. Almost 80% of the sodium people consume on a daily basis comes from processed foods, and you may be eating these regularly without ever reaching for the saltshaker. Therefore going sodium free takes a little bit of work.
Sodium is found in obvious sources, like potato chips and pretzels, but it also hides in a lot of other foods. Because it’s present in virtually everything that’s canned, and also in most frozen foods as well, no one is ever going to be in any danger of getting too little sodium.
Actually, you need some sodium in order to stay alive. It helps maintain cellular fluid levels and facilitates the transmission of information to nerves and muscles. It also aids in nutrient absorption in the small intestine. Too much sodium, though, can play a role in strokes, heart disease and kidney disorders. If you’re thinking of cutting down on your sodium, it’s likely because you’re aware of those health concerns.
Fresh foods are your best friends when it comes to reducing your sodium intake. Choose fresh vegetables instead of canned, and don’t add any salt to the cooking water. If you must use canned vegetables, look at the label, make sure it says, “no salt added,” and then rinse thoroughly just to be sure. One exception to the fresh vegetable rule is celery – it’s actually very high in sodium compared with other vegetables. Three and a half ounces of raw celery contains approximately 130mg of sodium.
Fresh fruits are also fine, as well as whole grain products. When choosing meats, stay away from anything that’s been processed. Ham, bacon, sausage, frankfurters, lunchmeats and cold cuts are sodium minefields. Instead, select lean cuts of meat and poultry, and don’t season with salt. Fresh fish is a good choice, but if you’re going to use canned, make sure it’s packed in water.
Many condiments, and also anything pickled, can be very high in sodium, so keep the use of these products to a minimum.
If you’re serious about cutting back on sodium, consider getting back into the kitchen and making nutritious meals from scratch. There’s very little that you can make from natural, unprocessed ingredients that’s going to contain an excessive amount of sodium. Now just put the saltshaker away, and you’re off to a good start.
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If you are planning to follow a raw food diet, you won’t be spending a great deal of time cooking. Raw food advocates believe that cooking not only destroys nutrients, it can actually make foods toxic.
If you are planning to adopt a raw food diet, it may be because you’ve read that it can help with memory, boost immunity, and give relief to arthritis sufferers. Eating raw foods exclusively is also believed to help with headaches. Other people choose to eat raw foods as a means of losing weight.
Most of what you eat on a raw food diet will be high in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. However, you may find that you’re not getting enough iron, protein and calcium so you might want to consider taking a daily multivitamin.
On a raw food diet, you can eat raw vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouted grains, and raw fruits. Some raw diet adherents will also consume unpasteurized dairy products, while others forego dairy. In most areas, it’s actually illegal to sell unpasteurized dairy products. Raw food adherents may or may not consume raw meat, fish and eggs.
If you’re planning on adopting a raw food diet, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen, even though you won’t be cooking. Preparation of raw foods can be very time consuming. You’ll also have to spend a lot more time shopping, since most of the foods you can consume will be organic. Foods can be blended or hydrated, and you can also sprout seeds and germinate nuts. Be careful doing this, though, because there can be a risk of contamination.
Another thing to be concerned about with a raw food diet is foodborne illnesses that can occur with unpasteurized and uncooked foods. You’re going to have to be very careful with cleanliness when it comes to food preparation, and make sure that you’re choosing only the freshest ingredients. Wash your food very carefully, and give extra attention to green onions, lettuce, and raspberries. These are foods that are particularly prone to contamination.
Because of the increased risk of food poisoning, raw food diets are not recommended for people who have weak immune systems or chronic medical problems, such as kidney disease. Raw food diets are also not recommended for seniors, young children, or pregnant women.
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The two types of dietary fiber are soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber helps the body eliminate toxins and waste, and encourages helpful intestinal bacteria. It also slows the digestive process so that you feel full for a longer time after eating, and it helps to regulate the blood sugar.
If you’re considering following a high fiber diet, it’s probably because you want to be healthier. Perhaps you’re troubled by diverticular disease, constipation or hemorrhoids. Low fiber is also connected to excess weight and heart problems.
When increasing your consumption of fiber, you should also make sure to drink more water as well – this aids in the digestion and helps you to avoid stomach discomfort. There are no foods prohibited on a high fiber diet, but there are several that you’re encouraged to eat.
Apples are inexpensive, and readily available. They’re a great source of fiber. Ideally, you should eat apples with the skin on to maximize your intake of fiber. Pears are also a great fruit – with their coarse texture, you can practically feel the benefit!
Most vegetables provide high amounts of fiber. For maximum benefit, don’t overcook your vegetables – steam or stir fry instead of boiling. Broccoli is high in fiber and also provides a number of other nutrients. In the green family, Brussels sprouts are also desirable, but admittedly not to everyone’s liking. You might try cooking them in a cheese sauce, or roasting them in olive oil.
Carrots are best consumed raw, as cooking destroys some of the fiber. If you’re fond of carrots, you might also try parsnips – they look like carrots, except that they’re white and have a much stronger taste. They’re an even better source of fiber, packing twice the content of carrots.
When considering fiber, you almost certainly think of grains, but note that they have to be in their whole form – when grains are processed, the bran is removed, and that dramatically reduces the fiber.
Seeds, especially flax or chia, are excellent sources of fiber.
Don’t overlook legumes – they not only provide fiber, they’re a great source of protein, so if you’re upping your fiber intake while also following a vegetarian or vegan diet, you’re getting double the benefit. Lentils are a common ingredient in several global cuisines, and they lend themselves well to various methods of cooking.
A high fiber diet is easy to follow because you don’t have to take anything away – you just have to add more fiber to your diet, and if you’re fond of the foods listed above, it should be easy!
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If you are planning on following a Paleo diet, the idea is that you’re going to have to eat like a caveman. This means not eating any processed foods.
If you’re considering a Paleo diet, you’re probably doing so because you’ve heard or read that it’s a great way to lose weight. The theory is that cavemen weren’t fat, and the evidence gained from examining fossilized skeletons would seem to indicate that this is true. However, whether cavemen weren’t fat because of their diet, or because they expended so many calories hunting, gathering, and generally trying to stay alive is up for debate. It may also be worth mentioning that most cavemen died by about age 30.
Proponents of the Paleo diet also claim that it can reduce blood pressure and lower triglycerides, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease, and that it can control or prevent diabetes. The research really isn’t conclusive on this.
If you’re planning to follow a Paleo diet, you won’t be able to eat grains or dairy. This means that you’ll be missing out on a lot of essential nutrients, so you may want to supplement your diet with a daily multivitamin.
On the Paleo diet, you can eat significant quantities of lean meats, fish, eggs, seeds and nuts, vegetables, fruits, and healthy oils like olive or coconut. You won’t be able to have any refined sugar, potatoes or salt. If your goal is weight loss, you won’t have to count calories, and you’ll find that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables will fill you up quite nicely.
All the foods you eat are going to have to be prepared from scratch, so you should plan on spending a fair bit of time in the kitchen. You won’t be able to use any foods that are processed, and convenience foods are strictly prohibited. Basically, if the type of food you want to eat (other than the healthy oils) wasn’t available in the Paleolithic era, you’re not going to be able to eat it.
The Paleo diet won’t work for you if you plan to combine it with a vegan or vegetarian diet, because the diet is very heavy on animal protein. On the other hand, the Paleo diet is a great combined with a low sodium diet since, of course, salt was not available to our cave-dwelling predecessors. This means that you have to eliminate various other seasonings as well – soy sauce, steak sauce, etc.
If you’re committed to following a Paleo diet, be prepared to eliminate all convenience foods from your diet and consume mostly foods that you prepare yourself from ingredients that our caveman ancestors would have eaten. If your goal is weight loss, it will probably work for you, but most people find it difficult to follow. If you want to try it and need support, there are several online sources that offer recipes, tips and also encouragement.
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Amines are chemicals that occur naturally in several foods. They give food its flavor by fermentation, or through breaking down the proteins in the food. Foods that are very intense in flavor are usually higher in amines. Ripened fruits and aged meats, for example, are high in amines.
If you’re thinking the name sounds familiar, you’re probably thinking of histamines, and antihistamines. When you have an allergic reaction, it’s because of histamines, and taking antihistamines eases the symptoms. When you eat foods that are high in amines, a substance called histidine is metabolized, absorbed, and in people who are amine sensitive, tissues become inflamed and swelling occurs – in other words, you have an allergic reaction.
High histamine foods include alcoholic beverages, smoked fish, chocolate, tomatoes, avocadoes, bananas, and processed meats. Most foods that, in their natural form, are histamine-free, become extremely high in histamine and other amines when they’re processed. Generally speaking, if it’s fresh, you shouldn’t have much of a problem. Make sure that your meats and your fish are as fresh as possible, and as previously stated, avoid smoked products.
Vegetables in general are very low in amines. The exceptions are tomatoes, spinach and eggplant. Spinach, for example, has a whopping 30-60 milligrams of amines per kilogram of product. You also want to make sure that your vegetables are very fresh – remember, the older the food, the higher the amine level.
The rule for vegetables is the same as it is for meat and fish – processing is going to ratchet up the amine level. Plain cabbage, for example, is very low in amines, but if you make sauerkraut, that jacks up the amine level to nearly 229 milligrams per kilogram of product! So, if you’ve heard people say that they’re allergic to sauerkraut, maybe it’s not just that they don’t like it – they really could be experiencing an adverse reaction from eating it.
You can safely consume uncultured dairy products, but avoid ripened cheeses and yogurt.
It probably isn’t realistic to think that you’re ever going to be able to remove all histamines and other amines from your diet, since their production is a natural occurrence in virtually every type of food. But if you make sure your foods are as fresh as possible, and avoid processed foods, you can keep the consumption of amines to a minimum.
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