Turmeric Sunburst Dip (Vegan & Paleo) – And Should We Fast From Animal Products?

Turmeric Sunburst Dip

This turmeric sunflower seed sauce is bursting with flavor and nutrition. It’s perfect as a dip for wraps and raw veggies, and is a great way to get protein when not eating animal meats. Natalia is fasting from meat products as she completes a traditional fast. One thing that I appreciated about Sally Fallon’s book, Nourishing Traditions, is that although she is an advocate of the benefits of traditional foods such as grassfed beef, eggs, and saturated fats in our regular diet, she also mentioned that there could be possible health benefits to cleanse diet/ fasts, for limited time periods (another traditional practice in many cultures). Natalia is exploring that concept for herself, as she talks through that issue in this post. -Kimi 

By Natalia Gill, from An Appetite For Joy

You might guess that this dip was named for its sunflower seed base. Or for the burst of complex flavor that it brings – earthy turmeric, bright lemons and the kick of crushed red pepper. But truth be told, the inspiration for the name Turmeric Sunburst Dip is actually a little nerdy.

By now you’ve probably heard of turmeric’s unsurpassed power of reducing inflammation. Take a quick glimpse at this chart which shows the MANY causes of inflammation targeted by curcumin, turmeric’s active agent. How astounding and exciting! And it looks just like a sunburst! (Well, maybe technically a starburst. I improvised a bit.)

I’ve been dreaming up simple, healthy vegan recipes such as this one because I am currently fasting from most animal products. You might remember I was contemplating participating in the Orthodox Lenten Fast in this Buckwheat Crepes post. Well I took the plunge! Here are the guidelines.


  • The fast lasts 40 days leading up to Easter, based on this calendar.
  • No meat or animal products are allowed, with the exception of shellfish. Incidentally, shellfish happens to be an amazing source of B12 which isn’t found naturally in the vegan diet. Clams contain the most B12 of any food, surpassing even liver.
  • Olive oil and wine (alcohol) are not allowed, except for certain days – usually Saturdays and Sundays.
  • Fish is only allowed on two specified dates.
  • If someone who is fasting is invited to eat in someone’s home who is not Orthodox, it’s ok to eat whatever is served.
  • If  fasting causes undue stress (physical, mental or spiritual) it can be deviated from at any time. Some describe it with the term “Economy” or “Oikonomia” meaning to use discretionary power or to handle things to the best of one’s ability.

Fasting provides a “time outside of time” – a physical shift that leads to a perception shift. I’ve noticed that things I’ve needed to work through on a spiritual level are coming to the surface.

I’ve also been reflecting on the potential health benefits and I’d like to share my thoughts with you and raise some questions. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well.


1. Tradition

The practice of giving up meat intermittently is an ancient practice, across all cultures, religions and philosophical practices. This particular fast has been around since the 4th century. I’m most familiar with it’s place in a traditional Russian diet. Russians eat a balanced diet that includes meat, healthy animal fats and cultured dairy. But it has always been interwoven with the complete elimination of animal products.

Since we seek wisdom by looking back at “nourishing traditions” it seems that this type of fasting should be considered as part of the whole picture.

2. Detoxification

I believe grass fed beef, pastured eggs, chicken stock, etc. are healing and deeply nourishing and I include them regularly in my diet. But in the back of my mind is the nagging reality that the farther up the food chain we go, the more concentrated environmental toxins can become, some of which may unavoidable even if we source our food carefully (source).

Is there value in giving the body a rest and flushing out some of these toxins that could be accumulating in the body?

3. Variety & Rotation

It seems that our bodies were designed for a rotation diet. Eating seasonally and seeking variety are ways to rotate the foods we eat.

I’m guessing that hunter-gatherers took breaks from meat when it wasn’t available. Later, fasting became more intentional. Maybe this sort of fasting is a missing element in a “modern traditional” diet?


Without a doubt there are circumstances that would make a meatless fast challenging, stressful or even impossible. Diabetes, autoimmune disease, grain & legume intolerance to name a few.

I was concerned about doing a disservice to my digestive system as some of my healthy gut habits would be dropped. So I decided I would deviate from the fast as needed – an egg here and there, olive oil on days that it’s “not allowed”, anchovies on cheeseless pizza on a non-fish day … “oikonomia”.

And after some transition, I feel great. I sense that my digestion will be better able to receive and absorb all foods, when they are reintroduced in a couple of weeks.

So back to this delicious dip! A true representation of the joy that lies within a fast.

I love it alongside lettuce wraps filled with rice, mung beans, cilantro, jalapeno and green onions. Drizzled with a squeeze of lime, this was such a flavorful and satisfying lunch! You’ll find both recipes below.

Turmeric Sunburst Dip


What do you think? Is the traditional practice of fasting animal products an important piece of the puzzle?

Turmeric Sunburst Dip
Recipe type: Sauce, Condiment, Salad Dressing
Serves: 4
This turmeric sunflower seed sauce is bursting with flavor and nutrition. Perfect as a dip for wraps and raw veggies.
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ⅓ cup sunflower seed butter (preferably made from roasted seeds without added sweeteners)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, freshly grated (can sub ginger)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon tamari (I use reduced sodium)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  1. Blend ingredients together. Taste & add water if a thinner consistency or lighter taste is desired. Garnish with cilantro, green onion, crushed red pepper and sunflower seeds.
Try this sauce with mung bean lettuce wraps! In a Bibb lettuce leaf, wrap soaked & cooked rice and mung beans, cilantro, green onions, jalapenos and lime.



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Hello! My name is Natalia and I live in the “City in a Forest” (Atlanta, GA) with my husband and two children. I’ve been drawn to nutrition and natural healing since I was a child, growing up in a Russian and Dutch home. I remember my dad theatrically convincing me to love head cheese (with horseradish and lemon!) and learning to make herbal tinctures with my mom. Formerly a project engineer in corporate, I've been working in health and wellness since 2001 as a Pilates and yoga teacher, content developer for a functional MD and nutritional consultant for "The 21-Day Belly Fix". You can follow me at AnAppetiteForJoy.com


  1. Nikolia says

    Wow! I didn’t expect to ever see anyone try the Lenten fast for health reasons. Thanks for this post. As an Orthodox Christian, I’ve been participating in the Lenten fast since a kid (started off easy, of course, no meat on certain days, then worked up to the full fast as an adult). This year, I’ve just had a baby, so have oikonomia to eat what I need to keep us both healthy. I just also want to point out another health benefit of fasting, which is increased discipline. It’s easier to say no to foods that I know are unhealthy because I am used to saying no to foods which fall outside the fasting guidelines (which also apply on Wednesdays, Fridays, and 3 other fasting periods during the year). My husband’s been enjoying big salads and lots of hummus (with the occasional Daiya shred pizza).

    • says

      Nikolia, congratulations to you with your new baby!

      And thank you for sharing your experience with the fast. It is interesting to get a glimpse into your experience as a child. My father is Orthodox Christian, but he only fasted occasionally when I was growing up (and when he did I thought he was a hero!)

      As I started looking at the parameters form a health standpoint I grew more and more delighted with the grace and support offered within the fast (shellfish, oil & wine on weekends, oikonomia…) And given that is is a longstanding tradition with spiritual roots, I believe it is timeless and a great paradigm for traditional foodies to consider if they want to begin incorporating cleansing, but don’t know where to start.

      I agree that the self-discipline that is cultivated throughout the fast is a huge benefit. And for me, it makes me more thoughtful and appreciative when I eat animal products. I’d like to start fasting Wednesdays and Fridays as well and your comment is encouraging me to give it a try. And yes, I am eating lots of hummus too! 🙂 Thank you!

  2. Sarah L says

    Cleansing is a definite necessity in today’s industrial complex. I have heard that a change in diet can send you into a healing “crisis” or just give the body a kick-start/wake up call. For instance a change from meat based to whole grain vegetarian can cause a cleansing reaction in the body, and vegan diets can be extremely cleansing, even purifying. The thing to keep in mind is moderation. For a period of time the body will use it’s reserves of fats and certain other essential minerals, vitamins, etc. but during stress, or in someone who has a weaker system, fasting may not be wise. Sometimes to me it looks like those on a vegan diet, have put themselves on a long term fast. I always want to say, yes, but be careful of your health. Fasting too long may not benefit your body.

    • says


      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I totally agree with what you are saying.

      It’s wise to make sure the body is strong first before moving into a cleanse. So many people are desperately eager to cleanse cleanse cleanse, but if they are “overfed and undernourished” what they probably need is to nourish first and then cleanse (moderately).

  3. says

    That’s a great discovery I learned today from your blog … that shellfish is one of the greatest source of B12 which you won’t even find in natural veggies. It’s particularly important to me as Doc says I need a lot of B12.

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