FAST FOOD FOCUS
So while the other scholars focus on the intellectual , spiritual aspects of Ramadhan, I intend to nourish you with some information on how to maintain good physical health during this month.
Fasting has many health benefits for the system but it needs to be supported by healthy eating habits throughout to maintain motivation and consistency for the 30 days of worship.
Allah created us with perfection in mind, body and soul. We need to maintain that good physical health as it complements the functions of a healthy heart and mind.
A holistic approach , meaning taking into consideration the mind, the body and the heart as one interdependent unit is essential for success in this month, inshallah to take our eman , our deen on to a higher level, closer to Allah.
Ramadhan is a great month for implementing new patterns of behavior as the Shatan is locked away .Inshallah Allah will see the sincerity of our prayer and help us make these changes into positive lifestyle actions long after Ramadhan has passed.
So let’s use this month to implement some better eating habits and not only re-educate our tongue from back biting, swearing and lying and positively learning some more Quran but also re-educate our tongue to better more healthy tastes in food choices.
Ramadhan is no excuse to over eat junk foods in the evening to compensate for fasting all day, you are not doing your body any favours by behaving in this way, you are in fact counteracting any good work done in the day.
Ramadhan is also no excuse for having a banquet in the evening and showing off how many rich dishes you can make to impress your iftar guests, you would benefit them by serving a creative salad, marinated grilled meat or fish and herbal tea with a good quality honey. Too many of us think quantity over quality, let’s turn that around.
QUALITY PLANNING AND PREPAARTION
Planning is important, “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail,” so as of now cut out tea, coffee and fizzy drinks, especially those drinks that proclaim to give you extra energy; they are mostly full of toxins . Tea and coffee are diuretics which means they make you loss water through passing urine and dehydrate you. They deplete the body of valuable vitamins and minerals. You may experience headaches and tiredness as you cut them out but better now, than when you start fasting.
Clean out your fridge and buy some plastic food containers to prepare small meals in advance if you are busy and working.
Buy honey, dates , protein powder and even long life milk, great staple foods when fasting and little time.
Buy acidophilus tablets or constant supply of yogurts like Biogarde or Yakut, buying the tablets are easier but more expensive in the short term but long terms you don’t have to keep going out for those particular drinks and can have a tablet with your pre-dawn Suhour meal.
The stomach is one of the most important organs to consider while we are fasting, it sterilizes, identifies and breaks down food. In Islamic medicine and conventional medicine, the stomach is considered an important organ and home to many of the good bacteria that support the immune system. The growing trend in milky yogurts with added bacteria is not just part of a fashion in nutrition but is based in fact.
I take acidophilus tablets, before I eat, which can be bought on line or in health shops to maintain the balance of natural bacteria in my stomach , I have a very sensitive stomach and am wheat allergic and I really find the acidophilus works, Alhamdulillah.
Digestion is very important so a few simple thing can make a positive difference like drinking lots of water and chewing slowly,eating calmly and not rushed. Plus the Sunnah of eating while sitting down.
NUTRIONAL BREAK DOWN
Okay, let’s get to the food bit. As the fasting hours now are at the longest we need slow digesting, fibre containing foods which include simple, unrefined carbohydrates that can last up to 8 hours in the body rather than refined carbohydrate which burn up after 3-4 hours. People with irritable bowel syndrome and other illness should consult their doctor or nutritionist for personal diet plan
GROUPS OF SLOW ENERGY RELEASING FOODS
Grains and seeds like barley, wheat, oats, millet, beans, lentils, whole meal flour, unpolished rice, brown rice.
FIBRE CONTAINING FOODS
include bran-containing foods, whole wheat, grains and seeds, an amazingly highest fibre foods like avocado, beans , chick peas, garbanzo beans, lima beans broccoli,brussels sprouts,cabbage,carrot, eggplant, greens — collard greens, kale, turnip greens,green beans, peas, okra, marrow, spinach, and other herbs like methie, the leaves of beetroot (iron-rich), fruit with skin, dried fruit especially dried apricots, figs and prunes, almonds.
GROUPS OF FAST ENERGY ENERGY BURNIGN FOODS TO AVOID
The foods that give you a quick energy high but also bring you down fast and have little nutritional value are white sugar, white flour, white rice.The prophet ,salah la alaihi wa salem NEVER ate white flour.
Narrated Abu Hazim: I asked Sahl bin Sad, “Did Allah’s Apostle ever eat white flour?” Sahl said, “Allah’s Apostle never saw white flour since Allah sent him as an Apostle till He took him unto Him.” I asked, “Did the people have (use) sieves during the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle?” Sahl said, “Allah’s Apostle never saw (used) a sieve since Allah sent him as an Apostle until He took him unto Him,” I said, “How could you eat barley unsifted?” he said, “We used to grind it and then blow off its husk, and after the husk flew away, we used to prepare the dough (bake) and eat it.” Sahih Bukhari and Tirmidhi
White bread, pancakes, roti, pitta, semolina, cous cous, “normal” pasta are all made from white flour, replacing them with whole meal alternative will benefit you in this life and the next inshallah.
SUHOUR – the pre dawn meal
1 acidophilus tablet with a glass of water
Karimah’s Bircher Muesli
Muesli is not something common to Arab or Asian culture, it’s something that us European reverts are used to and interestingly it’s packed full of Allah’s natural energy, especially when it’s made my way mashallah. I used to eat this food most days on my way to work when I lived in Zurich, I was working as a fashion model and this was healthy food on the run, not every Islamic to run while eating food though. This naturally sweet dish combines fruits, nuts and oats to provide delicious and yet healthy effect. Created by Dr Bircher-Benner in the 1890s for the patients in his Swiss clinic, it’s the ideal breakfast on warmer days before the porridge season kicks in. This dish can be prepared the night before or even made in bulk for three days supply, it’s great for Suhour as you just get up open the fridge and stick it in a bowl .I have added some spicy eclectic Karimah touches to bring this muesli into the new millennium
He who eats seven ‘Ajwa dates every morning, will not be affected by poison or magic on the day he eats them.”
Sahih Bukhari 7:65:356
150g /6 oz/ 1/2 cup rolled porridge oats
75g /3 oz /¼ cup dried sultanas or raisins
235 ml /8 oz/ 1 cup milk
15ml/ ½ oz/1 tbsp desiccated coconut
100ml/1/2 cup natural yogurt
25g /1 oz/ 1/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted
150g /6-7 oz /1 1/3 cups Blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, figs
5ml/1 tsp ginger
5ml/1 tsp cinnamon
7 dried dates
15ml// ½ oz /1 tbsp Clear honey
15ML.1/2 oz/1 tbsp flax seeds
15ml// ½ oz /1 tbsp black seeds
- Place the oats and sultanas in a plastic container that has a lid
- Cut the dates open and check to make sure there are no insects inside and chop again and add to oats and sultanas
- Add the spices; cinnamon and ginger
- Into the oat mix, stir in the coconut
- Add the milk and make sure it well mixed in to the oats
- Wash and drain the apple and berries, chop the apple into small pieces and add to the oats immediately otherwise the apple will go brown, take any green bits off the berries, black berries or raspberries add them in and strawberries half or quarter them. Some people add the fruit at the last minutes but proper Swiss muesli has a lovely pink colour as the juice from the berries has infused while soaking into the oats.
- Cover with an airtight lid and place in fridge overnight
- Take out of fridge when ready to eat and place quantity you want in bowl
- Pour yogurt over the top
- Drizzle with honey
- And sprinkle with black seeds…up up and away!
A vegan multi vitamin and mineral tablet ……And more water
Etiquette of breaking the fast
By Dr. Gibril Haddad
The Prophetic etiquette of breaking fast: three rutabs (moist dates), or else tamr (dry dates), or else water, mentioning Allah, using the right hand, stating the du`a that fasting was for Allah and breakfast with his rizq (provision), and asking Allah aid in fasting, night-prayer, lowering the eyes, and guarding the tongue in Ramadan. The invocation (du`a) upon breaking fast is answered.
The following two du`as should be recited after breaking the fast:
اَللّهُمَّ لَكَ صُمْتُ وَعَلى رِزْقِكَ أَفْطَرْتُ
Allahumma laka sumtu wa `alaa rizqika aftartu
O Allah! For You have I fasted and upon Your sustenance have I broken my fast. [Abu Dawud]
ذَهَبَ الظَّمَأُ وَابْتَلَّتِ الْعُرُوقُ وَثَبَتَ الأَجْرُ إِنْ شَاءَ اللهُ
Dhahab az zamaa’u wab tallatil urooqu wa thabat al-ajru Insha-Allah
The thirst has vanished, the veins have been wetted and the reward is established – Insha-Allah. [Abu Dawud]
after eating dates and water or milk, we pray magreb and normally we eat. Rehan Jalali C.S.N. top Muslim certified sports nutritionist and practicing brother, guest blogger for Suhaib Webb, recommends after dates and water and a protein shake, pray then do some exercise before eating, even 10 minutes stretch would be better than nothing.
ORANGE AND PEACH SOYA SHAKE
Some of us are lactose intolerant and so soya is a great alternative to milk. If you are clogged up with cold it’s often a good idea to avoid diary and meat for a few days as well.
[According to the book “Medicine of the Prophet” by ibn Qayim al Jawziya, within Islamic medicine it’s not healthy to mix dairy and citrus fruits, so I came up with this soya alternative. This is also a nutritional principle in Ayurvedic medicine.]
2 oranges, peeled chopped , you could use loads of alternative fruits
150ml / 5 oz /2/3 cup Soya milk
1 tablespoon of soya protein powder from health shops
3 peaches. alternative fruits
1 handful of ice cubes
Cocoa powder for decoration
Add all ingredients except the cocoa powder to the blender and turn on for 15 seconds till fruits and ice are combined, serve in tall glasses and using tea strainer of small sieve sprinkle with a 1/3 tea spoon of cocoa powder.
PRAY MAGREB SALAT, SLOLWY IF POSIBBLE AND SUNNAH ADDTIONAL PRAYERS.
Then salad followed by grilled or steamed salmon or chicken breast with brown rice and high fibre vegetables is an excellent iftar meal.
The fish and meat can be marinated using my recipes that inshallah will be available soon in a book called Heavenly Bites, Kube Publishers. Marinated meat can be left in the fish for up to 1-3 days maximum, fish for 24hours.
Ingredients 5 cloves
1 teaspoon/5ml of cumin powder
1 teaspoon /5ml of cinnamon powder
2 tablespoons/30ml fennel seeds
3 teaspoons/ 15ml black pepper
1 teaspoon/5ml of Cornish sea salt or any good sea salt
handful of fresh rosemary or 1 tea spoon/5ml of dried rosemary
5 bay leaves
1 teaspoon/5ml of thyme
1 whole bulb of garlic
zest peeled rind of an orange/lemon using finest side of grater
5 teaspoons/5ml of smoked paprika
1 cup /240ml of balsamic vinegar/apple cider vinegar
juice of 1 orange/lemon
3-5 green fresh chilies optional
½ cup /120ml of honey or golden syrup
2 cups /480 whole bottle of organic ketchup or 5 tablespoons of tomato puree
½ cup /120ml olive oil.
- Grind all the dry ingredient together; cloves, fennel, cinnamon, cumin, bay leaves,thyme,black pepper, salt and smoked paprika, use a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.
- Add to smoothie maker or jug processor. Break garlic bulb by hand and place all of it except internal stem into jug blender
- Add lemon/orange juice, ketchup/ puree and vinegar and turn the machine on for 1 minute to make sure garlic bulb has broken down and blended.
- Add honey/syrup to jug blender and pulse turn machine on for 30 seconds
- Add olive oil and blend again for 30 seconds
- Pour in an air tight bottle and store in the fridge until needed, will keep a couple weeks in the fridge.
- To use, pour over cleaned meat and toss so that all meat is covered with mixture, place in plastic container and cover with lid or wrap well with clean film making sure no mixture is outside the container, when you work clean there is less risk of nay infection from uncooked meat juices.
- Leave to marinate for at least 3 hours in fridge, then roast grill or BBQ.
- Chicken wings take about 20 minutes on BBQ or 40 minutes in oven preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Chicken thighs take 50 minutes in oven or 25 minutes on BBQ or grill, breast takes 30 minutes without bone to roast and 15 minutes to grill or BBQ, so as you can see grilling or BBQ is a quicker method of cooking
- Chili Marinade
- This marinade has a Mediterranean vibe about it with a kick of chili for good measure
- 1 tea spoon chili
- 1 tablespoon minced shallot or red onion
- 1 tea spoon minced/crushed garlic
- ½ cup coriander
- 2 tea spoon dry oregano
- 1 tea spoon cumin
- ½ cup lemon
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 tea spoon salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- Mix together all ingredients and pour over lamb chops or chicken pieces, cover with foil, cling film or in plastic container and leave in fridge till ready to grill, fry or BBQ
- Pineapple Teriyaki Marinade
- 8 oz fresh or tinned pineapple and juice
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 table spoon crushed fresh ginger
- 2-3 ml of 5 spice powder
- 2 oz organic cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon black pepper ½ tea spoon salt
- Mix together all ingredients, pierce holes in chicken using sharp knife or skewer and pour over chicken pieces or sea food like prawns cover with foil,
- cling film or in plastic container and leave in fridge till ready to grill, fry or BBQ.
- Moroccan Marinade
- This marinade is a staple in the fridge of any Moroccan women who lives cooking
- 1 bunch of coriander danyia
- 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
- 1 bulb of garlic
- ½ cup of olive oil Moroccan is beast for this
- 1 tbsp of coarse sea salt
- Wash and rain herbs, I do this by hanging them upside down from hooks after washing and placing rubber band back on
- Using a food processor, coarsely chop the herbs, peel the garlic and place all ingredients in processor and blend
- Place in glass jar with lid and store in fridge.
- Can be used to marinate meat in Karimah’s Moroccan lemon chicken, or spices add top make kofta kebabs and sauces
For those of us who are prone to losing weight or seriously training or going tom taraweeh another protein shake after ishr prayer would be good.
It’s not easy to make some of these changes and believe me I have not mastered them all yet but I am in the process of practicing them. Islamically our body has rights over us, when we are sincere in our prayer through the blessed coming month, we can ask for Allah’s help to purify our bodies as well as our hearts and minds, May Allah make it easy for all of us that struggle throughout this month, ameen. May Allah accept our fasting , ameen. May we remember the poor and give generously in our zakat and sadaqaa, ameen. May we keep the prisoners and those in war torn countries in our prayers, ameen. May Allah bless with us with greater eman throughout this month, ameen and may we come out of this month better Muslims than we went in , ameen.
All recipes and more International recipes from the Muslim World; wonderful ideas for Ramadhan meals, Islamic health tips and more are from my book, Heavenly Bites, published by Kube Publishing