'Fast' food with purpose

The right way to fast, feast, keep with tradition and stay healthy during the Holy Month

By Rhonita Patnaik

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Published: Thu 29 Apr 2021, 5:45 AM

Last updated: Thu 27 May 2021, 7:52 AM

The Holy Month of Ramadan is a time of giving, self-discipline and awareness. This is also a time that families come together to break their fast every day during Iftar. Iftar and Suhoor hold a great deal of significance among the Muslim diaspora as well as being celebrated by the multicultural residents in the UAE.

Hearty food is an important part of the Ramadan experience, with a wide variety of Middle Eastern and international cuisines traditionally enjoyed at sunset or in the early hours of the morning before the daily fast begins. Add to that a mini break, and you have the perfect opportunity for fasting and non-fasting residents and visitors alike to find complete relaxation during the Holy Month.

This is the time that Emirati heritage, with the main focus on food, comes to the fore. Dubai is a foodie's paradise. That said, there is an extensive range of set menu offers this Ramadan. You can enjoy the perfect Iftar and Suhoor with your friends and family throughout this month of contemplation and prayer with an array of cuisines and offers that are sure to satisfy the most discerning palate.

A typical Iftar and Suhoor

Iftar: When first breaking fast go for plenty of fluids, low fat, fluid-rich foods and foods containing some natural sugars for energy (avoid consuming a lot of food or drink with added sugars).

. Drinks - water, milk, fruit juices or smoothies - water provides hydration without any extra calories or added sugars. Drinks based on milk and fruit provide some natural sugars and nutrients - these are also good to break the fast but avoid drinking a lot of drinks with added sugars after breaking the fast as these can provide too much sugars and calories.

. Dates - traditionally eaten to break, dates are a great way to break the fast as they provide natural sugars for energy, provide minerals like potassium, copper and manganese and are a source of fibre. You could also try other dried fruits such as apricots, figs, raisins or prunes, which also provide fibre and nutrients.

. Fruit - fruit provides natural sugars for energy, fluid and some vitamins and minerals.

. Soup - A light way to break the fast that provides fluid. Traditional soups are based on a meat broth and often contain pulses, like lentils and beans, and starchy foods like pasta or grains, providing energy.

Suhoor: Choose fluid-rich foods to make sure you are well-hydrated for the day ahead and go for starchy foods for energy, choosing high fibre or wholegrain varieties where possible as these can help keep you feeling fuller and can aid digestion and prevent constipation. We suggest:

. Starchy foods like rice, or couscous - you could try rice pudding with fruit or experiment with couscous or other grains with dairy or fruit. If you go for savoury dishes at Suhoor then it's a good idea make sure these are not too salty or they may make you very thirsty during the fast.

. Yogurt - this is a good food to include at Suhoor as it provides nutrients like protein, calcium, iodine, B vitamins and also contains fluid. You could combine it with cereal and fruit.

. Breads - go for wholegrain options as these provide more fibre, for example, wholemeal toast or chapattis. Avoid combining bread with salty foods like hard cheese, or preserved meats. You could try nut butters (without added salt), soft cheese, or a banana.

Make sure you have lots of water before going into the next day.

Stay healthy, fit and safe during this Holy Month.?

Ramadan Kareem!

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