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Ekadasi is a special day that occurs about twice a month, eleven days after the waxing and waning moon. The scriptures describe that fasting on this day is very pleasing to Lord Krishna.
The essence of this fast is to decrease eating and sleeping so that one can spend as much time as possible for hearing, chanting and remembering Krishna. Those who fully observe this fast do not eat, drink or sleep on that day. Others eat fruit and drink milk, spending more time absorbed in chanting Hare Krishna and reading the scriptures. In India most people who fast on this day refrain from a range of vegetables including tomatoes, cauliflower, eggplant, lady fingers and leafy vegetables and do not use any spices except pepper, rock salt and cumin.
Srila Prabhupada gave us a simpler and easier formula for following Ekadasi: not eating grains and beans and increasing one’s devotional activities especially chanting Hare Krishna. Many ISKCON devotees vow to chant a minimum of 25 rounds on every Ekadasi, instead of the daily 16 rounds.
Individual devotees may choose how to observe the fast, but generally the ISKCON temples follow the standard given by Srila Prabhupada.
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What should I avoid eating on Ekadasi?
All grains, pulses and beans either whole or ground into flour: rice, wheat, chick-peas (besan), Soya, barley (lorge), millet, rye, all dahls and dried beans (gros pois etc.),
and anything that contains these ingredients : papadams
Vegetables such as green beans, corn, peas, snow peas (manz tou),
Oils made from grains: corn oil, soya oil, mustard oil, sesame oil and products that may have been fried in these. Please note that snacks fried in “vegetable oil” may be have been fried in the oils listed above.
Spices like mustard, fenugreek (methi), hing (unless it is pure).
Sesame seads (till), except on Sat Til Ekadasi.
Starches made from corn or grains and products made from and mixed with these starches like ground spices and hing , baking soda, baking powder, custard, certain yogurts, puddings, cream cheese, candy.
Take care of hidden ingredients such as Soy lecithin in milk powder.
Do not use any cooking ingredients that may have been mixed with grains, such as ghee that has been used to fry puris or spices or salt touched by hands dusted with flour.
Pseudo grains and flours that may be used on Ekadasi
Used with courtesy from Kurma prabhu.
Amaranth flour (rajgira atta): Milled from the seeds of the amaranth plant, this flour boasts a higher percentage of protein than most other grains, and has more fibre than wheat and rice. It is also higher in the amino acid lysine, which some food scientists believe makes it a more complete protein than flour made from other grains. Amaranth flour can be used in cookies, crackers, baking mixes, and cereals. Amaranth can also be purchased as a “puffed cereal” in wholefood shops.
Arrowroot flour: The rootstalks of a tropical plant are the source of this flour, often used as a thickener for sauces and desserts; the finely powdered arrowroot turns completely clear when dissolved (giving gloss to sauces), and adds no starchy flavor. Because of its easy digestibility, it is also an used as an ingredient in cookies intended for infants and young children. I use it as a grain-free substitute to corn flour (cornstarch for all US readers).
Buckwheat flour: A common ingredient in pancake mixes, buckwheat flour is also used to make Japanese soba noodles. It is available in light, medium, and dark varieties (the dark flour boasts the strongest flavor), depending on the kind of buckwheat it is milled from. You can make your own buckwheat flour by processing whole white buckwheat groats in a blender or food processor. Buckwheat groats (use only the dehusked variety) can be cooked like rice.
Chestnut flour: This tan flour is made from chestnuts, the meaty, lowfat nuts that are often served as a vegetable. The flour is a little sweet and is traditionally used in Italian holiday desserts. Italian shops sell it.
Potato flour (potato starch): Steamed potatoes are dried and then ground to a powder to make this gluten-free flour, which is commonly used in baked goods for Jewish Passover (when wheat flour may not be used).
Quinoa flour: Higher in fat than wheat flour, quinoa flour makes baked goods more moist. You can make your own quinoa flour by processing whole quinoa in a blender; stop before the flour is too fine - it should be slightly coarse, like cornmeal. Quinoa can also be cooked like rice.
Tapioca flour: Milled from the dried starch of the cassava root, this flour thickens when heated with water and is often used to give body to puddings, fruit pie fillings, and soups. It can also be used in baking.
Water-chestnut flour (water-chestnut powder): This Asian ingredient is a fine, powdery starch that is used to thicken sauces (it can be substituted for cornstarch) and to coat foods before frying to give them a delicate, crisp coating.