Ramadan Mubarak fellow Muslims! Muslims around the world celebrate the month of Ramadan in which the Holy Quran was revealed and observe the “fast” from dawn to dusk. Refraining from food and water during this time is an obligation of every muslim and is one of the essential pillars of Islam.
For Vancouverites, the fasts are almost 18 hours long. Breaking the fast with fried foods such as samosas, pakoras and even sweets is customary however, this usually leaves a sugar rush as our cells are starved for energy. This will lead to fatigue afterwards. Heartburn may also follow as fat is not as easily digested and our stomach acids may be excessively produced to deal with that. Something most people forget is that excessive salt intake will make you more thirsty during the fast. Limiting salt will prevent dehydration during the day.
Having a nutritious “Iftar” (post-fast dinner) and “Sahoor” (pre-fast breakfast) is essential in keeping you full and healthy during these long days. Here are a few of my favorite recipes to give the nutrients your body needs, keep you full and energized during the day. Happy fasting everyone!
Sahoor of Champions! Try to pair some whole grain carbs with protein, fruit and dairy!
- Avocado Toast. Avocado contain more potassium than a banana! They are also high in Vitamin K, folate and Vitamin C. Half an avocado will also provide approximately 7 g of fibre–something we often lack in the Month of Ramadan. Try 1/2 of a chopped avocado on your favorite whole grain toast with sliced boiled egg. You may sprinkle with a little salt and pepper or paprika. A sprinkle of pine nuts could also add a nutrient boost. This meal would contain all the essentials of a good pre-fast breakfast. Pair with a glass of milk or a fruit smoothie.
- Overnight oats. Let’s face it, who has time? This is one of my all time favorites because I can make and store for 2-3 days ahead of time. These can be stored in Mason jars in the fridge for a quick grab and eat. Great to make on Sundays for the upcoming week’s Sahoor. So easy to make too! Take 1/2 cup of quick oats, 2 tbsp of chia seeds, 1/2 cup Greek Vanilla Yogurt or Almond milk (other dairy is fine too!), 2 tbsp of peanut butter (or any nut butter of your choice) and mix. Top with fruit such as frozen or fresh berries, bananas. I like to sprinkle some cinnamon and nuts as a wonderful topper. This breakfast contains all essential nutrients including protein, calcium, folate and iron and fibre. It’s eaten cold like a dessert! Pair with 1 boiled egg for added protein.
- Hot oatmeal. Make this traditional favorite but add some zip to it for added energy through out the day. Adding flax seeds or chia seeds with nuts, fruits such as dried dates and raisins, cut up apple, berries or banana will add a boost this cereal. Make with milk to ensure you get enough calcium.
4. Breakfast Burritos. This is a great all in one, easy to grab and eat. Scramble a couple of eggs. Try to use less oil or no oil at all! Season with a dash of paprika, pepper and salt. Add to a tortilla with additions of your favorite toppings such as chopped avocado, mushrooms, spinach, onions, tomatoes, cheese, sliced olives and salsa. Grill for an extra crispy burrito. Pair with a bowl of fresh fruit and nuts. This is full of protein, Vitamin C and essential minerals. This is a great alternative to the typical Indo-Pakistani “paratha”.
Iftari of Champions!! Don’t forgot to eat your vegetables and refrain from fried foods.
- Curried peas. Family favorite. In my family we call it “Gugnee”. Peas contain just about all the basic vitamins and minerals you need including a whooping 8 grams of fibre in a cup! They are also rich in polyphenol oxidants providing extra health benefits such as fighting cancer and reducing the metabolic stress on your cells. They are an excellent source of plant based protein and help manage blood sugars given their low glycemic index. To make Gugnee, all you need is 1 medium onion (thinly chopped), 3 cups frozen peas, 1-2 tsp cumin seeds, 1-2 green chili (chopped), 1 tsp black pepper, salt, dried red chilli flakes (the kind you may put on top of pizza), 2 tsp minced garlic. Brown the onion in 2 tbsp oil, add peas with all other ingredients. Modify spice/salt as needed. Serve on it’s own! You may garnish with sliced boiled eggs. Picture courtesy of IndianRecipesinHindi.com
- Have days when you go light and away from the heavy appetizers. Try pita bread with hummus, cucumbers, feta cheese and olives to break your fast. BBQ chicken such as tiqqa or kabobs would be a good addition to complete your meal. Adding Lassi (yogurt smoothie) may be a good calcium rich thirst quencher.
- The thing about DATES. Dates are the Islamic traditional food for breaking your fast. Dates contain many nutrients such as fibre, potassium, magnesium and copper. They are also the richest in disease fighting antioxidants such flavonoids, carotenoids and phenolic acids which help prevent heart disease, cancers, Alzheimer’s, Macular degeneration and much much more! My ultimate favorite date recipe is Powerballs!! These mini energy balls contain all the goodness of dates and a variety of flavours so you don’t get bored of “dating”! (haha!) You could also use Powerballs for Sahoor with a fruit smoothie to complete your pre-fast meal.
- Haleem also known as Harissa (Arabic) is a one-pot phenomenon with an amazing history. It’s origin date back to the 10th century. The medieval Andalusian Jews ate it on Saturdays, a day of Sabbath for them. The Lebanese and Syrian Christians make harissa to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption. And in Iraq, Lebanon and the subcontinent, Shia Muslims made it to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain at Karbala in the month of Muharram. Although not traditional to Ramadan, this delicious elite dish is a winner as it combines high quality low fat protein (beef stew and lentils) with the goodness of fibre (wheat and lentils). It’s a perfect marriage of healthy carbohydrates and protein and will keep your stomach full (although your heart may keep wanting more!). Find the recipe and more history of Haleem at https://images.dawn.com/news/1178529. Serve with condiments such as fried onions, lemon, mint, chat masala, radishes.
To conclude, do fast, do feast, do flourish by keeping hydrated and eating healthy. I wish you all spiritual growth this Ramadan. Do leave some comments of some healthy recipes you’d like to share with me. For those of you that don’t fast (my non-muslim friends), these recipes and ideas are also great for keeping you satiated and satisfied. So do try them!
With prayers (duas) and lots of love always,