With a focus on prayer and the opportunity to reflect on good fortune, family and community, the spiritual and mental blessings of Ramadan are diverse, And when done right, the Holy Month of fasting can also come with tangible physical benefits. For example, combining healthy food choices while fasting can help you reset your metabolism, lose some weight and lower your cholesterol.
Using the right ingredients and offering your family healthy, balanced home-cooked meals will help everyone reap some gains and prevent fasting and feasting becoming a strain on the body. Joumana Dabbagh, Nutritionist at Nestlé Middle East, has provided these six important yet simple tips on how you can prepare a healthy meal for your family.
- Break your fast the right way: The best way for you to break your fast is to have three dates then a glass of yogurt or water to restock your body’s reserves of fluids and minerals. A warm bowl of fibre-filled vegetable soup and a crisp, green salad should come next, while your main meal should include carbohydrates, like a cup of cooked rice, some protein, for example a palm-sized piece of chicken breast, lean meat or fish, and some side vegetables.
- Cook light, healthy meals: One of the best ways you can adapt a better lifestyle is to avoid frying food and use alternative healthy cooking methods such as grilling, boiling, simmering and roasting. You can easily add taste and variety to the food you prepare by tossing in a wealth of colourful vegetables, herbs like rosemary, thyme and basil, as well as spices such as cardamom, turmeric and cinnamon.
- Add pops of colour to your plate: Make sure to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, which supply all the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs during the Holy Month. As well as amping up those daily servings of fruit and veggies with soups and salads, include family favourites, whether broccoli, spinach, peas or green beans, as part of the main course.
- Keep topping up that glass of water: Don’t forget to drink plenty of water between Iftar and Suhoor every day, ideally you should aim to drink at least eight glasses divided in small quantities so you don’t end up feeling bloated. To prevent getting thirsty, you should try avoiding spicy and salty foods and munch on fruits and vegetables that provide further hydration, such as watermelon, plums, cucumbers and peppers!
- Don’t be afraid to experiment and plan ahead: While it’s tempting to cook the usual Ramadan staples, another way of keeping things simple is to build up a collection of quick and easy recipes you think can become firm family favourites. However, you should aim to choose those with ingredients that you can use for more than one meal. Plus, it’s important to involve your kids in the cooking process as research has proved that allowing children to participate in food preparation encourages them to complete their meals. For example, you can ask them to make a salad, set the table or engage in other simple tasks.
- Find time to get moving: One of the best ways you can participate in physical activity is to go for a daily walk for at least two hours after your Iftar. This habit gives you time to digest your meal.
To make sure your family gets the very best, Nestlé has prepared a full month’s worth of balanced, healthy and delicious recipes. You can find them by logging on to: www.maggime.com/en/ramadan-recipes.