Sweet temptation: should we resist those delicious Ramadan desserts?

Sweet temptation: should we resist those delicious Ramadan desserts?
For many people, the highlight of iftar is when the sweets are served at the end, so Randa Fahd shares some recipes you can try while watching your health. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 May 2020

Sweet temptation: should we resist those delicious Ramadan desserts?

Sweet temptation: should we resist those delicious Ramadan desserts?
  • The facts about the body’s need for sugar during iftar

DUBAI: For many people, the highlight of iftar is when the sweets are served at the end. To some extent this might simply be the result of habit. However, physiologically speaking, it is true that the body’s sugar levels drop during fasting and might still need to be replenished if the rest of the meal was not balanced enough.

Eating sugar gives your brain a huge surge of a feel-good chemical called dopamine. Natural sugars found in foods such as fruit and vegetables do not trigger the release of as much dopamine as refined sugar, which is why your brain might be telling you to indulge in a few desserts at the end of an already hearty iftar.

Is it possible to skip the sweets?

The sugar your body requires can be found in adequate amounts in grains, fruits and milk. The body digests them and uses them as a source of energy.

If you pace yourself and eat slowly and steadily during iftar, you give your body time to process the food send a message to your brain signaling satiety before the sugar-packed desserts arrive. In other words, by adopting a mindful approach to eating, you will better appreciate your food and realize when it is time to stop.

Harmful effects of eating too much dessert

Studies have linked the overconsumption of sugary sweets to depression, attention-deficit disorders and tooth decay. It is also known to cause inflammation that can affect the heart, liver and skin. Also, we are all aware that consuming too much sugar increases blood-sugar levels and causes weight problems.

Calorie counts of popular Ramadan desserts:

Knefe with syrup: 400

Mafrouke: 225

Znoud el-sit: 215

Kallaj: 335

Maamoul with walnut: 260

Randa’s tip: If you simply cannot resist your favorite sweets during iftar, then use the two finger-size rule, or two tablespoons rule, I often mention. In other words, stick to small portions based on these measures.

Of course, some people look forward to indulging their sweet tooth with a large serving of a favorite sweet once or twice a week. If you have no health problems, this is unlikely to do any harm.

Others, however, might want to try a healthier version of a popular dessert. Here are two simple recipes to get you started:

Vermicelli dessert (osmaliyeh)


· 2.5 cups milk (0% fat)

· 3 tbsp sweetener (Stevia)

· 75g mozarella cheese

· 175g halloumi light (white) cheese (1 pack)

· 1 tsp rose water

· 1 tsp flower water

· 6 tbsp vermicelli


· 2 tbsp artificial sweetener

· 1/2 cup water

· juice of ½ a lemon

· 1 tsp orange blossom water or rosewater

Garnish: pistachio raw


1. Boil the milk

2. Shred the halloumi and mozzarella, and add them to half of the milk. Boil them together until the mixture becomes thick

3. Add the sweetener to the rest of the milk and pour it into the mixture

4. Add the rose water and flower water

5. Bake the vermicelli in the oven at 180 C for 3-5 minutes

6. Put half of the osmaliyeh in the dish, pour the milk and cheese mixture over it and add the rest of osmaliyeh on top. Garnish with pistachio [*** SEE NOTE AT TOP OF COPY ***]

7. Refrigerate

To make the simple syrup:

Place the sweetener, water and lemon juice in a pot and bring to a gentle boil. Allow the mixture to simmer for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and add the orange blossom water or rose water

Number of portions: 5

Calories/portion: 207

Protein: 16.31g

Layali Loubnan


· 2 cups milk (0% fat)

· 2 tbsp semolina

· 3 tbsp sweetener (Stevia)

· 1 tsp rose water

· 1 tsp flower water


· 1 tsp crushed walnuts

· sliced seasonal fruit or dates


1. Add the milk and semolina to a pot and stir continuously on a medium-low flame till the mixture thickens (10-15 minutes) [*** SEE NOTE AT TOP OF COPY ***]

2. Pour into a serving dish, allow to cool and then place in the fridge

3. Before serving, sprinkle with walnuts and arrange fruit or dates on top

4. Rose and flower water are added at the end

Number of portions: 3

Calories per portion: 89.56

Protein: 6.93g

Ramadan Kareem.