This time of year is possibly the least stressful in the life of a student – exams are not yet with us and the days are starting to get a tiny bit longer. And what makes it all the better is Pancake Day! Alternatively known as Shrove Tuesday, is on the 5th March, so it’s very important to prepare for what may be one of my favourite public holidays!
There’s something uniquely special about the unity of Pancake Day. In my experience, it’s about bringing people together to make the batter, as well as cooking and failing to flip the pancakes.
As Shrove Tuesday was the day in which Anglo Saxons would go to church to confess before Lent, the tradition stems from the fact that it was the last time to use up fatty foods and eggs before the fasting started. With Lent around the corner, you may be asking yourself what to give up. Should it be chocolate? Crisps? Meat? Last year I gave up chocolate, and the sense of reward after having done 40 days without it was phenomenal. The idea is associated with Christianity, as many Christians fast during this time in order to represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert without food. Lent this year spans from the 6th of March to the 18th of April.
However, I would like to propose an alternative to giving up these luxuries. As students, it is no secret that we are all, on some level, a total mess. I know there never seems to be enough hours in a day to balance working, eating and relaxing, but upon witnessing one of my flatmates cook up chicken 6 days out of date on more than one occasion, I had to intervene. So, in this article, I offer to you the idea that instead of giving up something food related, you could try and adopt something that improves your diet as well as improving your overall health. A new food resolution of sorts!
One way in which you can make a pact to yourself to improve your health could be to eat your ‘five-a-day’ throughout lent. This can then build the foundations for a healthier lifestyle. In reality, this is not as difficult as it may seem, and can be a lot cheaper than ready meals and takeaways. We all know why we should eat our five-a-day, however it seems like an impossible task for me sometimes! Nonetheless, there are small changes that can be made to meals cooked every day, for example, with a pasta sauce you can add loads of veggies! My go to recipe is a lentil ragù: this is a cheap and easy tomato sauce which includes enough vegetables to achieve all of your five-a-day!
Here’s how you make it:
• mushrooms (if you don’t like them that’s okay, it will only be 4 out of 5)
• an onion (sliced)
• 1 tsp of minced garlic,
• mixed Italian herbs
• stock cube dissolved in 1 litre of water
• frozen spinach
• a tin of tomatoes
• 60g of lentils per person
As for the method:
Fry the onion and garlic in oil. Add in the mushrooms once the onion has browned, followed by the lentils and give it a quick stir so the lentils are covered. Stir in the tinned tomatoes, spinach and stock, herbs (the amount you put in is up to you) and a dash of pepper. Leave for 45 minutes so the lentils soften. I think a splash of red wine in the sauce always makes it taste nicer but I know that it’s not exactly common to have cooking wine in a student house. And there you have it!
If vegetables aren’t for you, another alternative to giving something up for Lent could be to drink the recommended amount of water every day – an easier and cheaper option. I for sure don’t do this, but the goal is 2 litres (3.5 pints) per day. Water is essential for all life; the human body is roughly 60% water and it is therefore a necessity for survival as it is quite literally us, and is important for us to function correctly. Water also cleanses the body of toxins, and helps in the protection of spinal cord, joints and tissues. By drinking 2 litres every day you’ll be doing your body a massive favour and reaching a great sense of fulfilment.
Lent does not have to be done in line with religion, you can approach it as a challenge to yourself to help restrict unhealthy habits and test yourself.
Want to know how to make THE BEST pancakes for Shrove Tuesday?
Simplicity is key. Whisking together 2 eggs and 100g of plain flour with 300ml of milk and a dash of oil makes an amazing batter. Pour into a frying pan and flip, then cover in whichever topping you want; my favourite is always banana and chocolate!
By Eleanor Maunder