The story of Lent and recipes to see you through the holy days

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Leeky Linguine with Shrimp

You may be wondering what the eating and fasting rules are for Lent and how things have evolved.  Regarding the history of Lent, according to the Catholic Education Resource Center,

"The rules of fasting varied. First, some areas of the Church abstained from all forms of meat and animal products, while others made exceptions for food like fish. For example, Pope St. Gregory (d. 604), writing to St. Augustine of Canterbury, issued the following rule: "We abstain from flesh, meat, and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese and eggs."

Second, the general rule was for a person to have one meal a day, in the evening or at 3 p.m.

These Lenten fasting rules also evolved. Eventually, a smaller repast was allowed during the day to keep up one’s strength from manual labor. Eating fish was allowed, and later eating meat was also allowed through the week except on Ash Wednesday and Friday. Dispensations were given for eating dairy products if a pious work was performed, and eventually this rule was relaxed totally. (However, the abstinence from even dairy products led to the practice of blessing Easter eggs and eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.)

The present fasting and abstinence laws are very simple: On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, the faithful fast (having only one full meal a day and smaller snacks to keep up one’s strength) and abstain from meat; on the other Fridays of Lent, the faithful abstain from meat. People are still encouraged "to give up something" for Lent as a sacrifice. (An interesting note is that technically on Sundays and solemnities like St. Joseph's Day (March 19) and the Annunciation (March 25), one is exempt and can partake of whatever has been offered up for Lent."

Whatever rules your family lives by, we thought we could help you stick to some of them with these special recipes.

Shrove Tuesday (you can still have meat at this stage, but omit the sides if you wish):

Farmer's Stack Pancake Supper

You won't go hungry with this meal under your belt before Ash Wednesday and Lent begin.

Better Pancakes

A healthier version of the original breakfast staple

Apple Flapjacks

Apples and real maple syrup make this dish a sweet crowd pleaser.

Ash Wednesday and Friday meat-free seafood suppers:

"Milk" Mac n Cheese (pictured above-photo credit Emily Wyckoff)

Inspired by the Oscar® - winning film, Rachael's Milk Mac and Cheese will be a winner in your home.

Fancy "Fake Out" Seafood Version

Wow your guests with this dish that makes it look like you went to cooking school. (Leave out the prosciutto to make this meat-free!)

Super Scampi

Shrimp never had it so good!

Cod and Shrimp Stoup with Salt and Vinegar Mashed Potatoes

This one-dish meal is hearty and super filling.

New England Pasta Bake

This is like New England Clam Chowder, but baked into a casserole

Creamy Saffron Farfalle with Crab and Shrimp

This decadent dish has lump crabmeat and shrimp

Tuna Casserole

This dish only slightly resembles the classic-Rachael has added spinach and beans to make it extra healthy.

Leeky Linguine with Shrimp (pictured)

Herb and Sesame Scallops with Orange and Fennel Salad

This dish is really healthy and mixes some of the more prominent flavors of Sicily into one plate.

To view all seafood dishes on rachaelray.com, go here

Ash Wednesday and Friday meat and seafood-free suppers:

Sloppy Veg-Head Joe (pictured above-photo credit, Tina Rupp)

Rach takes a classic and creates a vegetarian version with the same great flavor.

Pizzocheri

Use vegetable stock instead of chicken to make it a vegetarian meal.

Nutty Broken Spaghetti-Sotto

Walnuts and mushrooms make this pasta dish unique and rich.

Stuffed Peppers and Tomatoes (pictured)

Created by one of our editors, this dish is delicious and filling and would make a great appetizer or main dish with a side salad.

Falafel Burgers

These burgers are meatless yet packed with protein from the chickpeas.

Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Roasted Pepper Paste and Smoked Mozarella

This dish is part of a full vegetarian menu that will please meat lovers too!

Potato, Zucchini and Tomato Stoup

Nice and hot on a cold day.

Marsala Mushroom Ragout

This is also part of a full vegetarian menu-check it out.

See our Easter recipe section!