Now that Ramadhan is upon us, many Muslims around the world will wake up in the early morning hours for sahur to eat and fill their tummies with food that will keep them nourished and feeling satiated throughout the day. Being a Muslim myself and having observed the rituals of fasting during Ramadhan for the last 23 years, I am no stranger to the choices that one can make during sahur and the immediate effects that can be felt during the day as a result of this choice.
When we were growing up, my father would always insist that all his children load up on both simple and complex carbohydrates and lots of protein with the understanding that the simple carbohydrates would provide immediate energy and the complex carbohydrates and protein will ‘burn’ a little more slowly throughout the day. Usually, this meant lots of rice, lots of potatoes and equally lots of meat typically beef, chicken or fish.
A full spread meal at such an early hour in the morning is not always accessible to everyone (not all of us have a live-in house helper!) nor recommended to most, especially if you intend to sleep immediately after sahur before starting your day as this can greatly interfere with digestion and the assimilation of nutrients into your body. Moreover, fasting is a powerful method of detoxification and you would not want to load up on highly processed, oily or salty food during this month. The idea is to support your body’s own abilities to remove the unnecessary toxins from your body with natural whole foods and healing ingredients. Oats can be a great addition to your kitchen this month as you will find how quick and easy it is to prepare in the morning and its ability to assist in keeping you well nourished, satiated and speeding up the removal of cholesterols from the digestive tract and arteries. High in Vitamin B1, Manganese, Selenium and Phosphorus, the multi-action of these vitamins and minerals ensures optimum brain and nerve function; an extremely useful benefit especially on days where you have multiple meetings that demand your attention and ability to make smart and effective decisions. In traditional Chinese medicine, oats are also believed to assist in building and regulating the qi energy, as well as maintaining blood sugar levels.
Overnight Oats are best made with rolled oats and are soaked in any liquid of your choice. Chia seeds expand in liquid and provide bulk and additional fibre to the concoction. As the name suggests, make it and pop it into your refrigerator the night before and they are ready to be consumed in the morning.
- 1/3 cup of rolled oats (if like me, you burn through your food very quickly and get hungry very often, add more up to ½ cup)
- 1/2 cup natural yoghurt, milk kefir, organic milk, coconut milk or any nut milk of your choice (add less liquid to produce a thicker consistency)
- 1 to 2 tsp chia seed
- 1 banana sliced or chopped into small pieces
- A pinch of cinnamon powder
- A drizzle of raw, organic honey
Stir all ingredients in a bowl and transfer into a glass mason jar. Cover tightly and place in refrigerator.
Variations and benefits
- Add 1-2 teaspoon of raw cacao nibs in the morning just before consuming for additional crunch and energy throughout the day. Raw cacao nibs contain Theobromine that can give a healthy energy boost during the day.
- For those with diabetes, substitute honey for a dash of organic and 100% natural palm sugar. Palm sugar has a low glycemic index that makes it a more suitable choice.
- Add a heaped tablespoon of peanut butter or any nut butter in the morning before consuming for texture and additional energy boost during the day.
- Substitute banana for any fruit of your choice. Be creative!
Get your organic ingredients at Greenbug Grocer.
Pitchford, P (2002) Third ed., Healing With Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, CA
Marber, I (2008) Super Eating. Quadrille Publishing Ltd.