In Latin America and to Hispanics in the US, Holy Week (the week that precedes Easter Sunday) is a sacred time marked by, among other things, giving up meat and eating seafood or vegetables. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

In Latin America and to Hispanics in the US, Holy Week (the week that precedes Easter Sunday) is a sacred time marked by, among other things, giving up meat and eating seafood or vegetables. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Latin recipes for Holy Week

Lent. It’s the Catholic season of prayer and sacrifice that culminates with the Easter celebration, coming this Sunday. The final week of Lent’s 46-day period (40, not counting Sundays) is called Holy Week, which started yesterday and is the commemoration of the Passion of Christ. It’s the holiest time of year for Catholics, many of whom commit to fasting or “giving up” certain foods or luxuries as a form of penance.

The most common concession is meat. Many Catholics abstain from eating beef as well as chicken during the entire Lent period, others during Holy Week, still others just on Good Friday. For that reason, throughout Latin America, seafood, beans and vegetable dishes are go-to meals this week in particular. Today, we’ve rounded up some of our favorites of each, which happen to be as good for the body as they are for the soul.

Seafood recipes

Shrimp tacos (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Shrimp tacos (Photo/Betty Cortina)

There are estimates that indicate a whopping 40 to 50 percent of the seafood sold annually in America is sold during the Lent period. Even McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish sandwich gets extra attention during this time, with special promotions and advertisements running on television. But to keep things healthy, and to really focus on the point of giving up something during this intensely spiritual period (because heading to the decadent seafood buffet would kind of miss the point) try making one of these easy recipes at home: shrimp tacos (pictured above), roasted red snapper (pictured at top of page) or Veracruz-style fish.

Bean recipes

Lentil salad (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Lentil salad (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Lentils and Lent. You might think they’re connected. In fact, they’re not beyond than that, historically, the poor who couldn’t afford to eat seafood during Lent would forgo meat for simple beans instead. Lentils, one of the longest cultivated legumes in history, were a popular choice, as were other humble bean dishes. Here are three flavor-packed bean recipes to break up the seafood monotony of the week: warm lentil salad (pictured above), Oaxacan black bean soup, and garbanzo and kale stew.

Vegetable recipes

Spinach empanadas (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Spinach empanadas (Photo/Betty Cortina)

If you’re looking for a way  to slip more veggies into your diet, Lent is the perfect time. Of course, this time of year coincides with spring, which ushers in a beautiful bounty of fruits and vegetables so you’ll have plenty to choose from. Here are three vegetable recipes that would fit the bill: spinach empanadas, vegetable flautas, and potato, swiss chard and mushroom tacos.

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