Mia Kouppa Nativity Fast Meal Plan – 2020

Mia Kouppa Nativity Fast 2020

A FREE downloadable meal plan, new lent-friendly recipes

and an invitation to help support the ALS Society of Quebec


Download your FREE Meal Plan and FREE Recipe Collection here:

Please enjoy our Free Meal Plan and Additional Lenten Recipes, and DONATE to TEAM MAKOS to help support the ALS Society of Quebec. Read more about this below. To donate click the link:

https://www.imakeanonlinedonation.org/slaquebec/campaign/macollectedefonds/defi/d4bd03ab-bea9-4be3-9b68-74e258123e9a


November 15 marks the beginning of the Nativity Fast for Orthodox Christians, a period of fasting which prepares us for the Feast of the Nativity of Christ on December 25th.  This is one of four major fast periods observed during the ecclesiastical calendar and although there is an important focus on abstaining from certain drink (wine) and food (meat, dairy, eggs, fish and oil) there is equal emphasis, if not a larger emphasis, on prayer and almsgiving.

Almsgiving is the giving of alms; money and physical gifts offered to the needy or the poor.  It is meant to change the giver, encouraging us to detach from physical comforts and excesses, and it reminds us that giving is a social act, which places us in a relationship with others.  It is an act of solidarity with those who are struggling, and can be a show of support to those who are facing seemingly insurmountable odds and life challenges.

And so, this post is about giving.  The first thing that is being given is our gift to you.  We have prepared a Nativity Fast Meal Plan (similar to the Great Lent Meal Plan we shared before Pascha), complete with new, delicious recipes created for you, with the fast in mind.  Our Meal Plan is based upon the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s fasting calendar and respects the daily fasting requirements established there.  Please consider our meal plan a guide to support you during your fasting journey, the details of which are best discussed with your Spiritual Father.

In considering how we would share our Nativity Fast Meal Plan we originally considered selling it, and directing all the proceeds to charity, but that seemed a little selfish on our part.  In discussing with each other, our parents, and in prayer, we instead decided to offer this resource for free and to invite you to participate in the joy and growth of almsgiving with us.  Together, we hope to offer solidarity to a woman we feel we know (despite having never met her) and thousands of others living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). 

A few months ago, Elias Makos, a Montreal journalist and radio and television personality (and fellow Greek) shared that his mother Voula was diagnosed with ALS.  Sometimes referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a neurological disease which affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control and function.  It is an insidious disease, one that progressively robs a person of their ability to move, to eat, to breathe.  Because it is rare (thankfully) ALS research funds and programs of support for patients and their families rely heavily on donations and outreach.   Along with dedicated and exceptional medical and nursing care, it is these not-for profit organizations, like the ALS Society of Quebec, which patients like Voula rely on for the best quality of life possible, and for hope.

If you are wondering, Why this cause? Why this specific fundraising campaign?  the picture below is the answer.  This photo of Elias and his mom is the one he shared when the announcement of her illness was made public.  In this picture we saw a familiar and inspiring scene; an adoring mother’s gaze and the unflappable bond that exists between parent and child.  The smiles are strong, and hopeful, and love leapt across our computer screen.  As mothers, and as daughters, we were unable to get the image out of our minds.

Elias and his mom

Probably because Voula is a Greek mother, a first generation immigrant who raised a family in a new adopted country, we saw a kinship between her and our own mother. And then, in speaking to Elias about his mom, we realized that Voula and our mom are so similar; she could be our own mother, she could be yours!  The family values, the devotion to our faith and culture, and the love of cooking connects so many of these women who share a common history, and in turn, all of us.

Voula was born in Polydroso, a small village found on the forested mountainside of Epirus, Greece. In 1959, while she was still a young girl, she immigrated to Australia with her parents and siblings.   Her family settled in Sydney, and Voula began working in the family restaurant.  In 1961, while Voula was adjusting to a life in Australia, a young man named Dimitri, also from the village of Polydroso, came to Canada. Dimitri and Voula knew each other as children and maintained a correspondence.  A few years after each had moved away from Polydroso, Dimitri wrote to Voula to tell her that he was travelling to Australia to marry her.  Voula told him not to, Dimitri didn’t listen, and the rest is a love story that resulted in a move across the world, 3 children and 52 years of marriage…and counting!

Elias's mom
Elias's mom and dad
Married for 52 years!

A newly married Voula arrived in Canada in 1968 leaving behind her family, including her twin sister, and beginning her own, new life with the love of her life.  After working for a while alongside Dimitri in a casse-croûte (for those of you not from Quebec, that’s a snack bar) she became pregnant with her first child in 1969 and then stayed home to raise her children, her first born-son, a daughter, and then Elias, her baby.

As a stay-at home mom Voula was able to devote her focus to her family, and this of course included feeding them good Greek food.  When asked about her cooking specialities, Elias listed all the classic Greek dishes we would expect a mom of Voula’s generation to be preparing; moussaka, and pastitsio, and avgolemono soup and makaronia me kima, and pites…so many pites!  The cuisine of Epirus is known for its pites and so it’s no surprise that Elias remembers his mom preparing trays and trays worth of pites for all sorts of family functions. 

Elias describes his mom as an “old-school classic Greek mother” and if you have one as well (lucky you! lucky us!), you know exactly what he means. Traditional, no nonsense and at the same time independent, strong and rather remarkable. Imagine leaving your family behind in Australia while travelling across the globe to a new and foreign country, unsure of when you might see your parents and siblings again. Ultimately, she did travel once back to Australia, a trip she took with Elias in 2009, during which she got to spend time with her sisters and their families; a trip they are both so grateful to have taken.

Cooking has always been important to Voula, and a part of her identity. How fitting then that we, as a Mia Kouppa community that is centered around food and family, come together to offer Voula and her family support.

Cooking class at Appetite for Books
Cooking class at Appetite for Books

The kitchen was the hub not only of food, but of family and of joy.  In fact, when asked how his mom was doing these days, Elias considered her level of well-being against her ability to cook.  One of the last things she made was a kotopita (chicken pita) a few weeks ago; recently she has been a little less active in the kitchen.

And so it is with ALS.  This vibrant, energetic and active woman, who first began experiencing unexplained symptoms last fall, was diagnosed in June with the disease that has robbed her of some independence and mobility. What it has not done however is dampen her spirit, her faith or her positive attitude.  She, along with her family, friends and community, is maintaining hope for a future which is full and of quality.  As we enter into this blessed period of the Nativity Fast, we are humbled to play a small part in supporting this.

Voula, and so many like her, benefit from organizations like The ALS Society of Quebec.  These not-for profit organizations provide resources, help and information to patients and families and help to further research into the disease.

Please consider joining Team Makos and making a donation; no amount is too small and all efforts are appreciated.

You can make a donation by clicking here: https://www.imakeanonlinedonation.org/slaquebec/campaign/macollectedefonds/defi/d4bd03ab-bea9-4be3-9b68-74e258123e9a


About the Mia Kouppa Nativity Meal Plan:

The Mia Kouppa Nativity Meal Plan begins with a few Helpful Hints to help you use it to its maximum potential; please take the time to read through it.  We created the Meal Plan with real life in mind (no big prep meals on a Tuesday evening for example!) and balanced nutrition.

A few other things to know:

  1. Most menu items have a link which will take you directly to the recipe post. Hover over the name of the menu items which are written in blue and are underlined, and double click to get to the recipe.
  2. Some menu items are followed with an asterix *; this means that the recipe is new and was created specifically for this Meal Plan. You will find these recipes in the downloadable document entitled: Mia Kouppa Nativity Fast Recipes.
  3. We have taken into account leftovers. So, for example, you may have Yemista one day for supper, and you’ll see that we suggest you have Yemista the next day for lunch.
  4. We realize that many of you (like us) work during the day, so suggested lunches are items which can be reheated or enjoyed cold or at room temperature.
  5. Finally, we have more Lenten (Nistisima) recipes available than we could list on the Meal Plan, and we will be building upon what we have during the coming weeks. You can consult our Recipe List, scroll to the bottom for the category “Nistisima”, for all the recipes available. This list will be updated every time a new recipe is added.

Download your FREE Nativity Fast Meal Plan and your FREE Recipe catalogue here:

And please, don’t forget to contribute what you can to the Elias Makos fundraising campaign for ALS!

You can make a donation by clicking here: https://www.imakeanonlinedonation.org/slaquebec/campaign/macollectedefonds/defi/d4bd03ab-bea9-4be3-9b68-74e258123e9a

xoxo

Helen & Billie

Mia Kouppa Nativity Fast 2020

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