Alhamdulillah we once again find ourselves in this beautiful month of Ramadhaan; an opportunity for us to strengthen the bond with our Creator by sacrificing our most primal human needs, those of food and drink for a designated period of the day. Of course, Ramadhaan is about so much more than just not eating and drinking (although judging by the frantic preparations that precede this holy month, one not knowing any better would beg to differ) this article will focus on just the nutritional aspects, Insha-Allah.
As a health fanatic with a passion for food, I am well aware that it is a some what delicate processtrying to strike a healthy balance; because let’s face it, our regular iftar menu doesn’t exactly make it to the top of the healthy foods list. And while I am working on a spiritual connection, the thought of my arteries making a connection with the cholesterol from those deep fried samoosas and springrolls is rather alarming to say the least. Not to mention all the weight we seem to pick up in a month where we literally (or at least are supposed to) reduce the quantity we consume by half. Nevertheless this love for food forces one to find alternative ways to enjoy the foods we love without any of the negative side effects; or at least ways to minimize these.
With this in mind, I share with you my top tips for enjoying your favorite Ramadhaan treats without compromising your health. I make Dua that, properly implemented, they will benefit you as much as they have me, Insha-Allah.
- 1. When preparing pastry items such as pies, sausage rolls, etc. substitute the white butter pastry with brown pastries. This will already reduce the cholesterol and fat content, while at the same time adding some nutritional value to an otherwise unhealthy choice of food. Andthey taste just as good!
- 2. Where possible, bakeinstead of fry your savouries (samoosas, spring rolls, etc.). Place them on a baking sheet, spray on both sides with a good cooking spray (preferably cholesterol free), or brush LIGHTLY with olive oil and pop them in the oven. You will be amazed at the difference in taste!
- 3. If you must fry, then opt for shallow frying rather than deep frying. Take care not to pierce the foods with a fork while still in the oil, as this allows the food to absorb more oil than it would otherwise.
- 4. Savouries that are normally dipped in egg and deep fried can still be dipped in egg and then dry-toasted (without butter, oil, etc.). A small amount of cooking spray will ensure they don’t stick to the pan.
- 5. Try to get at least 1-2 servings of fresh fruit and/or veggies in daily.
- 6. Hydrate properly with water, not coffee or fizzy drinks, between sunset and suhoor.
- 7. Take a good multivitamin daily (preferably at suhoor).Alternatively, a teaspoon of black seed honey a day is an excellent tonic.
- 8. Try to include more low GI foods into your meal at suhoor. The energy from these foods is absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly, stabilizing blood sugar levels and keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
- 9. Don’t overeat! You are not a bear preparing for hibernation. In the words of Mufti Ismail Menk, “the lighter the pre-dawn meal, the easier the fast”. Your organs need the break and will thank you for it in the long run, Insha-Allah!
- 10. Most importantly, share. Ramadhaan is a time for us to reflect on the bounties bestowed upon us by Allah Ta’ala and to learn compassion by putting ourselves in the shoes of those less fortunate. Baihaqi reported on the authority of Salman Al-Farsi (radi Allahu anhu) that the Prophet Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam delivered a sermon on the last day of the month of Sha’baan. In it the prophet Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam said, “O people!, if anyone among you arranges for iftar for any believer, Allah will reward him as if he had freed a slave, and Allah will forgive him his sins. A companion said: “but not all of us have the means to do so”. The Prophet Sallallāhu Alayhi Wasallam replied: Keep yourself away from hell-fire though it may consist of half a date or even some water if you have nothing else”.
Written by: Sister Fiyona Valli for Idealwoman.org