Ramadan filled with nutrition

Updated 10 July 2013

Ramadan filled with nutrition

Ramadan is the month in which Muslims fast in order to empathize with the less fortunate, who do not have the means to eat a proper meal. It is a time to seek spiritual rewards and strengthen one’s bonds with the Almighty. Unfortunately, however, many people have forgotten about the main purpose of Ramadan. Many people continue to fast during the holy month, but after sunset, they overcompensate with food, indulging in all sorts of fried, saturated and sugary foods.
Ramadan should be about changing our food habits and finding a healthier lifestyle. We spoke to nutritionist Jihan Abdulatif who shared with us tips on how to lose weight during Ramadan and ways to maintain a balanced diet.
“With long hours of fasting, you crave all sorts of food and your brain begins to send signals with different food urges. You can control these impulsive cravings,” Abdulatif says. “Think twice before you begin to prepare your iftar meal. Make sure your meal is nutritious and contains vegetables and fruit servings to keep you sustained throughout your fasting hours,” she adds.
Dates, fresh juice and soup are ideal for breaking the fast. “Soups are the best kind of comfort food because they are warm and fulfilling. They conserve much more of their natural nutrients, vitamins and general essence than frying or stewing vegetables and meats,” explains Abdulatif. “Soups are also great for those who want to shed weight. Make sure your soup is rich with protein, carbohydrate, minerals and vitamins that exist in vegetables, meats or beans,” she adds. It is sunnah (the way of life prescribed as normative for Muslims based on the teachings and practices of the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him) to break your fast with three or seven dates and there is a healthy reason behind it. One is that dates are rich in vitamins and minerals and they are free from cholesterol and are low in fat. “They are a rich source of fiber, vitamin and protein. Dates also enhance the digestive system as they contain amino acids,” said Abdulatif. “In addition, they are a great source of energy as they include natural sugar. You can eat them alone or add milk and make a smoothie drink that I guarantee would keep you satisfied and energetic for a long time,” she added.
Abdulatif recommends drinking plenty of fluids and water between iftar (sunset time when Muslims break their fast) and suhoor (snack before sunrise) to prevent dehydration. “Liquids such as fresh juice and water will help you preserve the fluids and maintain the balance in your body and substitute whatever was lost during your fast,” she says. “Water plays a major role in weight loss because it helps detoxify the body and makes you feel full. I recommend you always keep a bottle of water handy to drink all the time,” she adds.
Abdulatif recommends you to drink more than eight glasses of water a day especially if you are sweating. She also recommends staying away from spicy and salty dishes as they make you feel thirsty.
Abdulatif shares with our readers a healthy soup recipe for Ramadan.
1 tps olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
600ml hot vegetable stock
400g can of chopped plum tomatoes with garlic
400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
100g frozen broad beans
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Large handful coriander or parsley and flat-bread to serve
1. Heats the oil in large saucepan, then fry the onion and celery gently for 10 minutes until softened, stirring frequently. Tip in the cumin and fry for another min.
2. Turn up the heat, then add the stock, tomatoes, chickpeas and a good grind of black pepper. Simmer for 8 minutes. Throw in broad beans and lemon juice, cook for a further 2 minutes. Season to taste, then top with a sprinkling of lemon zest and chopped herbs and serve with flat-bread.
You can spice the soup with a spoonful of harissa paste. Curry lovers can swap the cumin for 1 tsp of garam marsala or for a more hearty dish, fry four sliced chorizo sausages along with the onions and celery.
“Seha w Hana” as Arabs say or in other words enjoy your meal.

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Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor

Ta’ateemah includes a variety of dishes such as dibyazah, red mish, chicken and lamb stew and bread. File/Getty Images
Updated 19 June 2018

Ta’ateemah: Giving Eid a Hijazi flavor

  • Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread
  • The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it

JEDDAH: Ta’ateemah is the name of the breakfast feast Hijazis enjoy on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr. It is derived from the Arabic word, itmah, or darkness, because the dishes served are light, just like midnight snacks.

Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al-Fitr to feast after fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. But it is called Al-Fitr from iftar, or breakfast when translated to English, which is a meal Muslims do not get to experience during that month.
The first day of Eid is a day where they finally can, and they greet the day with joy by heading to Eid prayers and then enjoying this traditional meal.
Amal Turkistani, mother of five from Makkah who now lives in Jeddah, told Arab News all about a special Eid dish.
“The most famous dish is the dibyaza, and making a dish of it is a work of art that I can proudly say I excel at. Dibyaza is made of melted dried apricots, roasted nuts, figs, peach and sugary dates to create a marmalade-like dish that can be enjoyed with or without bread.”
She revealed that dibyaza is not a quick meal — it is usually prepared a day or two before Eid with the ingredients simmered to reach the correct liquid thickness.
No one can trace the origins of dibyaza — it remains a mystery. Some people claim it originated in Turkey, while others attribute it to the Indians.
A number of women who are famous for their dibyaza agreed that it is a Makkawi dish. This marmalade dish was developed and improved, with tiny details to distinguish it.
The dibyaza is also similar to an Egyptian dish called khoshaf, but dibyaza is often partnered with shureik — a donut-shaped bread with sesame sprinkled all over it.
Turkistani said sweet shops sell 1 kg of dibyaza for SR50 ($13), competing with housewives who make their own.


“I think it is always tastier when it’s homemade because of all the love that goes into making it. It’s also a wonderful way to greet your family and neighbors with this special dish that you only enjoy once a year.”
Her younger sister, Fatin, said: “My siblings always have Eid breakfast at my place, so it’s up to me to prepare the feast. My sister spares me the exhausting dibyaza-making, so I prepare two main dishes: Minazalla, which is a stew of lamb chops with tahini and a tomato chicken stew.
“She also serves what we call nawashif, or dry food, like different types of cheese and olives, pickled lemon, labneh, red mish — a mixture of white cheese, yogurt and chili pepper and halwa tahini,” Amal said.
Mohammed Ibrahim, 23, from Makkah, told Arab News: “It always feels unique to have minazalla and nawashif during Eid, and not just because it is followed by the Eidiyah.”


What is Eidiyah?

It is money elders in the family give to the youth to celebrate Eid and to congratulate them on completing Ramadan fasting.