Pretzels date back almost 14 centuries to an Italian monk, who, while baking bread for Lent, twisted a roll of dough to resemble the sign of the cross. To genuflect or make the sign of the cross is a prayer posture of Catholic Christians. Pretzels have become a traditional Lenten fasting food as they are made without sugar, fat, meat or dairy. In traditional Catholic homes, all fat, dairy and sweeteners are used up on Shrove Tuesday (also called Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday) in anticipation of the “vegan” Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lenten fasting. Shrove Tuesday is also sometimes called Pancake Day because these ingredients were made into pancakes for the pre Lenten Mardi Gras feast. During Lent, Catholic Christians observe meatless Lenten fasting on Fridays. They may refrain from eating fats, oil, butter, sugar, sweets and dairy products as a spiritual Lenten fasting.
Here are vegan pretzel recipes for Lenten fasting and for little devotional object lessons for Catholic Christian children. Use pretzels as object lessons to to teach other virtues of Lent–including prayer, sacrifice and faith building. The pretzel has a unique heart shape. The crossed arms resemble arms and hands folded in prayer. The arms form three openings which symbolize the Holy Trinity, Patri, Fili et Spiritu Sancti. Children in times past were given Pretoila (pretzels) as “little rewards” for successfully learning their catechism and prayers. As pretzels contain no dairy or animal fats, they are vegan. These pretzel recipes are kosher for every day but Passover when no yeast may be eaten. But baking soda can be substituted in these pretzel recipes. Make these soft pretzel recipes for teething babies for weight loss.
For your soft pretzel recipes, start with good whole grain, multigrain unbleached flour with oat bran. This high fiber, high protein, low junk carbs flour contains oh-so-healthy unsaturated fatty acids. Dissolve 2 and 1/4 teaspoons baker’s yeast dissolved in 1 and 1/4 cup warm water. Add 1 tablespoon evaporated cane juice or honey (omit for vegan pretzels) to give the yeast something to feed on. Lenten fasting permits raw sugars, typically. You can omit yeast and use baking soda instead. Add 1 tablespoon kosher salt and 4 cups whole grain oat bran flour like King Arthur of Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain flour.
Blend all ingredients and knead dough for several minutes. Separate dough into two inch diameter balls. Roll each ball into a log about eight inches long. Holding one end in each hand, form dough roll into a circle, crossing two sides in the middle and attaching ends to edges of circle. You can also twist dough around each other before attaching to sides. Work dough ends into edges to hold firm. Place pretzels on baking sheet, covered with clean towel in a warm area and allow to rise several hours. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake on 425 degrees for 12- 15 minutes until golden brown. Optional; bake pretzels immediately but only if dough is warm.
Optional pretzel toppings or add-ins for pretzel recipes–sesame, pumpkin, poppy, sunflower or caraway seeds, Add in garlic and minced onions or cinnamon and allspice. Mix in lemon curd or vanilla and raisins (add a little more honey). Mix in wheat germ, flaxseed, chia seed, sugar-free granola or oats. Try adding Italian seasoning (rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme) to dough for pretzel recipes. Add mixed nuts and seeds. Serve savory bagel plain or with hummus, salsa or tahini and sliced vegetables. Spread with peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter or sunflower butter and add add sliced apples, bananas or berries.
Teach object lessons on world hunger, living simply and sharing. Don’t let kids eat all the pretzels they want. Let them get a little hungry. When kids are finally allowed to eat pretzels they may appreciate them more, despite being plain or vegan food. Using these object lessons, even picky eaters may find that when faced with real hunger they aren’t so picky. Use as object lessons to teach child first-hand what if feels like to live on bread and water.