Sunday, February 10, 2019

Enjoy a Salt-, Oil-, and Sugar-Free Strawberry Vinagarette on Your St. Valentine Feast Table

"The best part is the dressing!" my youngest child said as helped me taste test a simple salad that I will be serving my family on St. Valentine's day. "Can you put more on?"

"Of course," I replied pouring more of our SOS-Free Strawberry Vinaigrette onto the mixed greens and herbs that he was digging into.

"I think it would be good with some more of these, too." I was rewarded by a big smile from my son as I sliced more strawberries onto our salad.

"I think so, too." My son took another bite and affirmed, "It IS good!" 

I grinned, thinking, And good for you!

Our SOS-Free Strawberry Vinagarette

I created our Vitamin C-packed SOS-Free Strawberry Vinagarette salad dressing with items that I had in our fridge and cupboards and it came out yummy. 

SOS-Free Strawberry Vinagarette 
1 cup sliced strawberries
1/4 cup water
3 T mixed vinegars (balsamic, apple cider, and red wine, because we were down to the end of the bottles on all three)
1 clove of garlic
1 T tahini 
Place all ingredients in Magic Bullet or blender and blend until smooth.

Moving Towards a More Plant-Based St. Valentine's Day

Why the SOS-Free Strawberry Vinagarette and Salad?

My family has long enjoyed putting together Saint Teas and celebrating Faith through Food. However, as you might imagine, our menus on such days are often filled with rich foods and treats.

Recently, I have decided to change that.

Due to personal health concerns, I am moving myself to a plant-based diet free from salt, oil, and sugar (SOS-Free). While doing so, I am also aiming to increase my husband and children's intake of nutrient-dense foods to balance the animal products, salt, oil, sugar, and processed ingredients that they still enjoy at times. 

Thus, I am trying to build new, plant-based family recipes to enjoy as traditions on holidays and feast days.

This was easy to do for St. Valentine's Day.

In the past, my children and I have discussed how St. Valentine was an Italian priest and doctor.  As a doctor, he likely ground herbs to make poultices and medicines.  Thus, it seems fitting that on St. Valentine's Day we serve up a large salad of greens and herbs.

Likewise, St. Valentine was known for planting seeds of love for Christ in people's hearts and for performing weddings for engaged couples during a time when marriages were outlawed by Ancient Roman law.  Thus, it seems a fruit dotted with seeds and easy to shape into hearts - a symbol of love - is a perfect salad addition.  Strawberries, it is!

A Few More Details about St. Valentine (and Our Salad)

Herbs and greens, then, can help us remember St. Valentine's vocation as a priest and doctor, while strawberries remind us of the seeds of Christ's love that St. Valentine planted and of the young couples he married.  The SOS-Free Strawberry Vinagarette, in turn, is both sweet and sour, calling to mind how St. Valentine was willing to suffer death (a very sour thing) for love of Christ (an eternally sweet choice).

St. Valentine, of course, is known as patron of love. In third century, the Roman Emperor, Claudius, outlawed marriages because he wanted young men to be soldiers without the distraction of women and marriages.  St. Valentine, however, who had a heart for God, also had a heart for young engaged couples. So, he secretly married them.

When this was discovered, St. Valentine was arrested, and, w
hile in jail, St. Valentine, continued to reach out to people with the love that he said Jesus Christ gave him for others.

As St. Valentine did so, his jailer, Asterious, became so impressed with St. Valentine's wisdom that he asked him to help his blind daughter Julia with her lessons.

St. Valentine agreed and became friends with Julia when she came to visit him. 

Emperor Claudius also came to like St. Valentine and, it is said, he offered a pardon to St. Valentine if the beloved priest and doctor would renounce his Christian faith and agree to worship Roman gods.

Of course, St. Valentine refused to leave his faith.  He also encouraged Emperor Claudius to place trust in Christ.  This enraged Emperor Claudius, who, then, sentenced St. Valentine to death - a sentence that was brutally carried out on February 14, 270.

Before going to the executioner, however, St. Valentine is said to have written a note to encourage Julia to thank her for being his friend and to encourage her to stay close to Julia. It is also said that upon opening the note, Julia's vision was miraculously restored and she was able to read it all the way down to its signature: "From your Valentine."

The story of this note may have inspired the exchange of valentines, and the story of St. Valentine as a whole - especially the memory of his loving service to young couple - has continually inspired people.

By 496, Pope Gelasius designated February 14 as St. Valentine's official feast day.

Over time, secular celebrations merged with Christian ones to make St. Valentine's Day a popular celebration among people of many faiths.

Enjoy more St. Valentine ideas and traditions like making Love Buckets by clicking through to past posts.

Love Buckets!

St. Valentine, pray for us.


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