Ramadan is a month that’s meant to refresh the body, mind and soul. Choosing the right food for your Iftar or Sahur keeps you energetic, hydrated, and much happier during the day and throughout the month.
However, in our hunger we usually end up eating lots of fried foods or highly processed foods, which can not only have you put on a few extra kilos during the month , but also often will leave you bloated, thirsty, cranky and feeling unhealthy throughout the day. In order to prepare for a happier Ramadan month, we’ve put together a healthy shopping guide that helps you shop and plan your meal. So, here’s our selection of the top 10 food items to have in your shopping list. Happy Ramadan!
Dates are an integral part of this month; luckily for us, the dates found in the Middle East are among the best. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals, energy, sugar, and fibre. It’s customary to break fast with a date and it is advised to eat them at sahur. Dates might be tiny in size but pack a punch as it is able to keep you satiated for longer than you would expect and they’re also a good option for satisfying your sweet tooth. Among the many varieties of dates, Ajwa - dubbed as “dates from paradise” - found mostly in Saudi Arabia, is good for protection against heart ailments and an excellent option for both sahur and breaking your fast.
Barley is a very affordable heart-friendly ancient grain and has almost the identical components of oats. This means that it is not only high in fibre, but also rich in folate, B6 and potassium. Minerals like phosphate, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc benefits bone structure and strength. Get creative with this grain and consume it as a drink, in soups and stews and as a salad ingredient.
Soy and soy products
Vegans rejoice! Where most plants lack one or two essential amino acids, this is the only plant source, which is a complete protein as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. It’s low in saturated fat and helps lower cholesterol level by increasing HDL levels. Consume fermented soy products like tempeh and natto to boost micro gut flora.
The only debate when it comes to soy is the potential effect from the phytoestrogen, which mimics the structure and function of the female hormone, oestrogen that it contains. Feminisation and the effect on female fertility make us wary of consuming too much soy. However, studies have proven that the effect is subtle and only occurs when high amounts are eaten.
This simple dip is made out of chickpeas, olive oil, lemon juice and salt, but for some added ‘omph’ it can also be mixed with avocado, sweet potato, garlic etc. You can buy it ready-made in supermarkets but make sure you read the label to see what’s inside. Alternatively, you can make your own; we have an awesome healthy Hummus recipe here. This savoury dip is delicious and irresistible, and is easy to eat; it goes well with your wholemeal bread, vegetable sticks etc. It is packed with plant protein and good fat and dense with nutrients to help you to get through your Ramadan period easily.
Just because it’s Ramadan, doesn’t mean that you stop eating your greens. They’re packed with vitamins, minerals and plenty of fibre. Leafy greens are also very refreshing and calming for your stomach after a long day of fasting. Be creative so you don’t feel like eating a salad is a chore.
Roots are some of the most nutrient-dense vegetables in the world. While each root contains its own set of health benefits, they share many of the same characteristics. Yams, beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, yuca, kohlrabi, onions, garlic, celery root (or celeriac), horseradish, daikon, turmeric, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, radishes, and ginger are all considered roots.
Because root vegetables grow underground, they absorb a great amount of nutrients from the soil. They are packed with a high concentration of antioxidants, Vitamins C, B, A, and iron, helping to cleanse your system. They are also filled with slow-burning carbohydrates and fibre, which make you feel full, and help regulate your blood sugar and digestive system. It is great to use root vegetables for soup. Warm soup is something nice to break fast with; it warms the digestive system, and makes you feel grounded and settled.
Deep sea fish
Fish is among the healthiest foods you can eat. It's filled with good fats and protein, and has been shown to fight heart disease, boost brain health, and more. Especially deep sea fish such as salmon, trout, cod and sardines that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are excellent for the brain, the heart and various other parts of the body.
High fibre fruits
Fruits are a universal healthy food, it is high in fibre and enzyme, it keeps you hydrated, helps in digestion, prevents constipation and it is also very refreshing for your body. But be careful with the selection as some fruits are high in fructose, and may not be a good thing if overly consumed during Ramadan. So go for low fructose and high fibre fruits such as: apples, pears, pineapples, green guavas, berries, papayas, dragon fruits, watermelons, and coconuts. Avoid high sugar fruits such as mangos, grapes, lychees, and durians.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and peanuts all contain a host of healthful nutrients. Just a handful packs a powerful punch of vitamins, minerals and fats, all of which work together to affect your heart, your brain and your waistline. Just one ounce a day can diminish inflammation and provide satiating fibre, protein and immune-boosting minerals.
Consume a variety of nuts and seeds, as it gives you different flavours that can satisfy your taste buds. The good thing about nuts and seeds is you can use them in many ways; add texture to smoothies or pureed soups, or add ground flaxseeds directly to your meal, or soak other nuts and seeds until they soften and blend it with your food. Or make your own flavoured nuts and seeds for snacks by adding spices. Alternatively, use nuts and seeds as a topping for casseroles, hot or cold cereals, soups, salads or in wraps or sandwiches.
We hope that this list will help you have a healthy and energised Ramadan.