Diet, food & cooking

Ramadan Kareem!

It’s again the best time of the year, where we give the soul and the body a chance to cleanse, heal and revitalize.

For you to be in perfect shape and health during this holy month, you need to choose your food wisely. It is ideal in Ramadan to have 3 daily meals: Iftar, Sohour and a snack between them.

Iftar is our main meal during the holy month and it needs to have some criteria to be healthy and at the same time delicious.

Best thing is to follow our Prophet and break the fast with dates. (Yummy!)
They help you break your hunger slowly and prepare your stomach for digestion.

Do you ever feel heavy after Iftar?
That’s probably because you don’t give your stomach a chance to prepare for digestion and start instead with the main dish at once. Another item that serves as a stomach liner before the main dish is soup. It can never go wrong with soup.
Always incorporate salad in your meal. You can go all creative with your salad plate, from plain green salad to Greek salad, Fatoush, Quinoa or Rocca salad. Sprinkle with a hint of lemon for better iron absorption and avoid unnecessary salt on your salad. For a richer taste add some olive oil or vinegar.
Bake, grill or air-fry your food instead of deep frying to eliminate extra calories. All delicious oriental dishes like Katayef or Sambousak can be baked instead of being fried.

For a low fat diet you can cook using sunflower oil or small amounts of natural ghee (Samn Baladi).

And always remember to chew well, eat slowly and do not overeat.

Sohour is a blessing so try not to skip it

Sohour is a blessing so try not to skip it and try to have it as late as you can to help curb your hunger and avoid weakness and fatigue throughout the day. Getting creative with Sohour is fun, so aside from beans (foul) there are other healthy varieties.
One of my favorite Sohour snacks is Fruit and Yoghurt Parfait.

Want the recipe? OK 😉

Combine oats, yoghurt and fruits like banana, berries, pomegranate or apple and leave that mix to sit in the fridge overnight. You may then add on top some raw nuts, fresh fruits, honey or peanut butter. That’s it, super easy and super tasty.

Another favorite is oatmeal pancakes.

1 cup quick cooking oats, 1 tablespoon sugar/ honey, 2 teaspoons baking powder, a pinch of salt, 1 egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 3/4 cup milk.
Blend the ingredients together until smooth.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat.
Pour the batter onto the pan. Brown on both sides and serve hot with the topping you desire.

Sweets at Sohour are not a smart choice, since they make you feel hungry quickly.
Also salty foods would trigger your thirst, so better avoid them. It’s important, though not as easy not to sleep directly after Sohour.

Try to read or pray for some time before going to sleep to avoid improper digestion and constipation.

Ramadan is famous for delicious desserts that are hard to resist

I know. I don’t want you to completely restrain from sweets, but try to eat them in moderation, since they are high in fat and sugar. Dry cakes (without toppings), rice pudding, jelly, oat biscuits, dark chocolate, fruits and other ghee-free sweets can successfully substitute Arabic sweets.

For a quick, light snack a couple of hours after Iftar there’s a wide range of healthy options like raw nuts (almonds, walnuts... etc), popcorn, sweet potato, toast filled with light cheese or just a cup of fresh juice.

Water in an essential element for the body

It is advisable to drink 2-3 liters of water per day to compensate the fluid lost due to fasting and due to the high temperatures we will be experiencing this Ramadan. Other drinks as fresh juices or hot drinks are included in the recommended daily liquid allowance, but do not overconsume caffeine, since it counts as diuretic and causes more fluid loss.

A tip for you: Drinking lukewarm water at Iftar aids digestion, so better avoid cold water.

What about physical exercise?

We need to remain active in Ramadan to stay healthy, but when is the best time for a fasting person to work out?
You may exercise at daytime, preferably right before Iftar, but it shouldn’t be longer than 60 minutes of cardio exercises like running, jumping rope or Zumba and it should not include strength exercise or weight lifting, since it’s possible that your body will then start losing muscles.
Remember to drink sufficiently after you break your fast to replenish the salt and fluids lost during exercise and make sure your Iftar meal contains protein and carbohydrates to speed up your recovery after training. Always listen to your body and take a break whenever you feel dizzy as this may indicate low blood sugar.
After Iftar you may perform any type of exercise, but first better wait 2-3 hours to ensure the food has been fully digested. Here are a few healthy post-workout snacks: Fruit smoothie, low-fat chocolate milk, protein bar or simply a sandwich preferably with whole grain bread.

I wish you a healthy, peaceful Ramadan. May all our prayers are answered and our devotions rewarded and may Allah grant us peace, health and prosperity during this holy month.