Have you ever heard of “Daniel’s Diet?”
It’s a weight-loss program based on Daniel, a Biblical character. According to Scriptures, when King Nebuchadnezzar told his subjects to eat the “King’s choice foods,” Daniel chose “not to defile himself” and only subsisted on “vegetables to eat and water to drink.”
Hence, the birth of a biblical diet. A divine way to shed those extra pounds.
But the Bible is way more than just a source of inspiration for a diet program. It can also be a culinary book for the faithful who loves to eat great food.
Biblical ‘super foods’
Google defines ‘super food’ as “a nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being.”
According to an article from Examiner.com and About.com, there are at least 30 ‘super foods’ that were mentioned in the Bible that are now proven to be great for healing all sorts of ailments. The article believes that the Bible gave people suggestions about super foods and a couple of recipes utilizing these nutrient-blessed items.
Over 30 food items mentioned in the Bible were proven to be highly nutritious and a great way to aid healing and recovery from certain illnesses.
If you’re looking for a great healthy snack, go for fruits and nuts. As mentioned in the Old Testament, one can reap great health benefits by munching on apples or pomegranates, figs, grapes and raisins, melons, olives, almonds, dates, pistachio, and sycamore fruit.
Vegetables, grains, and legumes are also staples of a healthy diet. According to the Scripture, beans, cucumbers, gourds, leeks, lentils, and onions are packed with nutrients that will boost immunity and ease recovery. For grains and grain-based products, one can choose from barley, corn, wheat, flour, bread, millet, spelt, and unleavened bread.
Our biblical ancestors are also no stranger to the goodness of meat. In fact, when Jesus fed 5,000 people in an afternoon, he miraculously multiplied fish and bread.
For meats, the Bible mentioned people eating fish, partridge, pigeon, quail, dove (yes), eggs, poultry livestock (your regular chicken), goat, lamb, oxen, sheep, and venison.
Dairy and fruit/animal byproducts are also a significant part of their diet back then. In fact, from the Old Testament ‘til the New Testament, the Bible documented various food items falling in this category—butter (in moderate amounts), cheese (try not to overdo it) and curds (yes, check it out on Isaiah 7:15), milk, grape juice, honey, olive oil, and vinegar. And of course, the choice of drink in almost every biblical feast: Wine.
Other than the numerous super foods mentioned above, people who lived in biblical times were also fond of using herbs and spices in their food preparation to kick it up a notch.
That means that even before Ina Garten, Gordon Ramsay, or Nigella Lawson graced our TVs, the Bible was already fond of using different herbs and spices to improve their meals.
Mary Fairchild of About.com compiled the herbs and spices mentioned in the bible: anise, coriander, cinnamon, cumin, dill, garlic, mint, mustard, rue, and of course—salt—perhaps Lot’s least favorite seasoning.
Inspired by the Bible’s keenness on cooking and serving great food, food writer and culinary instructor Kitty Morse wrote a Mediterranean cookbook entitled “A Biblical Feast.” As written on its website, the book features “close to fifty kitchen-tested recipes give step by step instructions on how to combine these 84 biblical foodstuffs into wholesome dishes like Lentil Salad with Watercress & Goat Cheese, Sesame-Almond-Nigella Mix, Ezekiel’s Bread, Saffroned Millet with Walnuts or Poached Apricots with Pomegranates in Honey Syrup. The appropriate Biblical verse is paired with each recipe, along with a head note explaining the foods’ culinary, historical and spiritual links.”
Morse is not the only one who was bitten by the ‘biblical cooking’ bug. Just a simple Google search will bring about several dozen of suggestions.
In 2006, Anthony Chiffolo and Rayner Hesse, Jr. wrote and published a book entitled “Cooking with the Bible.” They wrote in the website, “we have presented eighteen meals found in the scriptures: thirteen from the Hebrew Scriptures and five from the New Testament. We have included the foods that would have been in common usage in the Middle East in biblical times, such as lentils, olives, onions, figs, dates, cheese, honey, fish, lamb, goat, bread, and wine.”
Canadian group DLTK also has a section about biblical recipes that are accessible through the internet. Most recipes were updated to fit the modern man’s kitchen supplies.
Biblical recipes for Lent
If you’re observing Lent and trying to cut down on meat and meat products, here are some biblical recipes that will not just fill your tummy—it may also take your faith on a different level.
JACOB’S LENTIL STEW
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro (coriander), divided
3 celery stalks, including leaves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups dry red lentils
1/4 cup pearl barley
2 qts. vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp hyssop or parsley
1/2 tsp sumac (optional)
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté onion in some olive oil ‘til translucent. Add garlic, carrot chunks, and celery and continue to sauté. Add red lentils and barley and mix well. Add 2 quarts of broth and bring to a boil. Add cilantro, cumin, hyssop or parsley, sumac, and bayleaf. Stir well. Reduce heat to simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
ST. PETER’S FISH WITH PARSLEY SAUCE
1 cup fresh parsley
1 clove garlic, chopped
4 Tbsp. water
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp. flour
6 St. Peter’s fish, bass, or trout, filleted
½ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. onion, chopped
Blitz parsley, garlic, and 2 tbsp of water in a food processor until smooth. Add 2 more tbsp. of water if needed to thin it out. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Season flour with some salt and pepper. Coat fish fillets with flour and fry until golden brown on both sides. In the same pan with half the oil, sauté the onions until caramelized. Add some flour and stir until light brown. Add the parsley mixture and stir for another 2-3 minutes.
Serve the fried fish fillet with parsley sauce.
1 pound (3 cups) pitted dates, finely chopped
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
For the filling, boil dates, brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water in a sauce pan. Simmer until dates are soft, which is about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl combine flour, baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, mix butter and granulated sugar until creamy and light colored. Mix in oats. Add flour mixture alternately with 1/2 cup warm water and mix well. Best to use your hands to mix.
Roll dough on a floured surface to make two 10-inch squares. Transfer one square to baking sheet and spread date mixture evenly to the edges; cover with the other square. Cut into 2-by-3-inch pieces. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.