Happy New Year, y’all! I am so excited about this year. So many things have already happened or are in the works and I am so grateful to be able to share it all with you very soon. #NewYearNewMe is a big thing right about now so I’m bringing you something tied to that. Each year, my church completes the Daniel Fast, which is based on scripture found in the book of Daniel–specifically Daniel 1:12 and 10:2. It’s essentially a plant-based diet with a few further restrictions.
This year, we aren’t starting the fast until March but I know that lots of you may be participating in the Daniel Fast or another type of diet and lifestyle change or challenge around this time of year so I thought now would be a good time to share the tips and recipes that have been helpful to me in successfully completing it. In this Daniel Fast survival guide, I’ve included and denoted some recipes of my own that are already Daniel Fast compliant or can be with minor tweaks as well as resources from around the internet. These tips are applicable to many other diet and lifestyle changes such as Whole 30 or just getting into a more healthy, intentional eating and cooking routine. Let’s get into it!
First things first…
“I, Poppa” “Rest in Peace, Uncle Phil.” What is the Daniel Fast?
The Daniel Fast is a partial fast typically lasting 21 days and done for a variety of spiritual and physical reasons. For me, it is a faith exercise and demonstration that has benefits in all areas–including the waistline! During this fast, I only drink water (sometimes with a slice of lemon) and only eat fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes. Generally, this means no processed food, which is not a huge deal for me as I tend to shop the perimeter when I hit the grocery store anyway.
No sweeteners, meat, fried foods, refined grains, or dairy are allowed. And, if y’all know me then you know that sugar is the HARDEST thing for me to avoid. I’ve seen people do the fast different ways: for shorter or longer lengths of time, with or without salt, drinking non-dairy milks and vegetable juices. Some do not use any oil. You just have to determine what is right for you. For example, the first time around, I used this date honey recipe as a sugar substitute but now I’m just fine without it.
Helpful Daniel Fast Resources
Daniel Fast Compliant Recipes – No Changes Needed!
- Homemade Oatmeal Mix
- Easy Roasted Root Veggies
- Baked Sweet Potato Fries
- Garlicky Green Beans & Mushrooms
- Ginger Curry Carrots
- Glowing Skin Sweet Green Smoothie
- Simple Roasted Carrots
- Summery Lemon Garlic Potatoes
- Zesty Lemon Squash
- Dodo (pan-fried plantain)
- Post-Workout Smoothie (tastes like a Wendy’s Frosty!)
- Almond Breakfast Smoothie
- Pasta Skillet Dinner (be sure to use whole wheat or brown rice pasta)
- Cherry Pineapple Ginger Smoothie
Daniel Fast Friendly Recipes – Slight Modification Required
- 2-Step Healthy Breakfast Cookies (omit maple syrup)
- Alternative Baked Potatoes (omit turkey)
- Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing (omit raw honey)
- Apple Cinnamon Overnight Oatmeal (omit maple syrup)
- Baked Breakfast Potatoes (sub olive oil for butter)
- Banana Nut Oatmeal Muffins (omit maple syrup)
- Best Breakfast Hash (omit turkey sausage)
- Chopped Southwestern Salad (omit chicken and cheese)
- Creamy Crunchy Avocado Chicken Salad (sub tofu or your favorite veggie for chicken)
- Crunchy Kale Salad (omit crisps and use a fast-friendly salad dressing)
- Dark Chocolate Chai Baked Oatmeal (omit maple syrup)
- Grain-Free Apple Cinnamon Granola (omit maple syrup)
- PB&J Smoothie Bowl (omit raw honey and make sure peanut butter has no added sugar)
- Pina Colada Oatmeal Muffins (omit maple syrup)
- Pumpkin Maple Baked Oatmeal (sub coconut oil for butter and date honey for maple syrup)
- Pumpkin Walnut Oatmeal Muffins (sub coconut oil for butter and omit maple syrup)
- Rainbow Soup (omit turkey and sub veggie broth for chicken broth)
- Sheet Pan Power Bowls (omit chicken)
- Sheet Pan Roasted Dinner (omit chicken)
- Spicy Chipotle Skillet Meal (omit ground turkey)
- Tropical Green Breakfast Smoothies (omit greek yogurt–you can add more banana for creaminess)
- Veggie Noodles Three Ways (sub olive oil for butter and omit parmesan)
***Many of these recipes call for maple syrup for sweetness. Use the date honey recipe linked above and/or cinnamon instead.
Tips for Success with the Daniel Fast
- Set a goal. Go into this fast with intention and talk to God about what it is you hope to accomplish or understand through the experience. The first time I did this fast, I was waiting to hear back about grad school admissions and wanted to demonstrate commitment. I received an acceptance letter on the first or second day but continued and it was so rewarding!
- If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail. Meal-prepping is an absolute must during something like the Daniel Fast. You can’t run to a restaurant for lunch or buy something from a vending machine as easily. (Although, if you find yourself at Chipotle, you can get a salad bowl with lettuce, beans, corn, brown rice, and ALL the salsas!) On that topic, here are my secret to building better salads at home.
- Whether or not your diet change is spiritually linked, you’ll need some structure to stay on track. I used this devotional the first time around and it was so helpful. It is full of recipes, tips, and a scripture-based starting point for each day. You can also utilize online meal planners or worksheets. Google Sheets is good for that because you can access it on all of your devices.
- Make sure you have an accountability/prayer partner. You might mess up…and that’s ok! The first time I did the fast, I accidentally popped a peppermint into my mouth when I was in a meeting. I spat it out and felt so bad but had to bounce back. Calling up my sorority sister who had introduced me to the fast was beyond helpful. She was like “Girl. Get over it!”
- Stock up on fresh lemons (not bottled lemon juice) for your water if you’re used to drinking juice and other things. Just add a slice or wedge to your glass or bottle and you’ll be good to go.
- Oatmeal is a good catch-all dish. You can make it sweet or savory. I sometimes cook mine in unsweetened apple juice to add flavor right off the bat then mix in fresh fruit, cinnamon, nuts and other spices. Here are a ton of oatmeal recipes in every shape and form.
- Let your friends and family know about this change…and expect to have to remind them a couple of times, haha! There’s no need to make a PSA but you’ll want people to understand why you’re turning down certain foods or outings.
- Ease back into your regular diet. At the end of the fast, you might want to continue it (slightly likely), incorporate more plant-based foods on the regular (likely), or dive headfirst into a margarita and queso (highly likely). Try to go easy on your body. Just as it might have been a shock to your system in the beginning, there will probably also be an adjustment period at the end. I had this plus turkey bacon, cheese eggs, and OJ for breakfast the day after my first fast and, while I felt fine, I have friends who totally gorged themselves the first moment they could and felt sick.
My encouragement to you is to use this time to explore. Rather than thinking of everything you can’t eat (which will be hard until about three days in) think about all the variety that lies within what you can! Experiment with different spices. Try new fruits and veggies. Be thankful for the opportunity to try something new. I hope this Daniel Fast survival guide is helpful to you in any kind of diet change. Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d love to hear about your experiences with the Daniel Fast, Whole 30, or anything else like that. Thanks for reading!