When you’re caught up in the emotion and spiritual energy of Hajj, surrounded by millions of other Believers all striving to gain closeness to Allah (SWT), it’s easy to forget to eat or even drink water. In many ways, this can be a good thing: toilets are often accompanied by long queues in the hot sun, and when you finally get to them, their state may leave you questioning whether you actually need to use the toilet after all. Despite these concerns, it’s important to keep hydrated during your long days in ‘ibadah during Hajj or ‘Umrah, and equally important to make sure that your body has the fuel it needs to keep you walking, praying and throwing stones as required.
If you’re a long distance hiker, many of the following snacks will probably be familiar to you – not only do they keep well, they can also be transported in small containers and are packed with fast-absorbing, fast-acting carbohydrates to provide you with the insulin spike you need when you feel yourself starting to fade. Save the foods with higher protein and fat components for your breakfasts and dinners.
Remember too that if you are planning to transport food with you into Saudi Arabia, check the customs regulations about food closer to the date of your departure.
Keeping hydrated is your number one priority for your physical body during Hajj or ‘Umrah. While regular water is great for hydrating you on a normal day, you’ll likely be sweating out electrolytes throughout the day, so something like coconut water – which contains five key electrolytes – is a great option while on Hajj or ‘Umrah. If coconut water isn’t readily available, any sports drink will also do the trick. Consider carrying a hydration bladder in your backpack with an easily accessible mouthpiece so you don’t have to keep reaching for your bottle.
Dates are plentiful in Makkah and Medina, alhamdulillah, so they are easy to source and replenish when your stocks start to deplete. Dried dates are also higher in simple sugars and carbohydrates than many other dried fruits, which makes them a great choice.
Pepitas, or raw pumpkin seeds, are great for long hikes, and are delicious to boot. Collect seeds from your pumpkins or buy them packaged from the store. You can buy them pre-toasted and seasoned, but if you want to season your own, simply preheat the oven to 180°C, toss the pepitas with olive oil, and toast for 15 minutes, stirring them every 5 minutes. When they are brown, remove them from the oven and toss with your choice of spices. Black pepper, cayenne pepper, chilli powder and cumin is a great blend if you like it hot – add some brown sugar and cinnamon to the mix for a sweet and spicy mix. Even basic sea salt goes down a treat!
Make your own trail mix by combining your choice of chopped dried fruit, seeds, cereals, toasted nuts and cacao nibs. Trail mix has a good mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats for long distance walking, and is easily transportable in a sandwich bag and popped into your mouth when needed.
• Cashews, Brazil nuts, dried mango, coconut flakes, banana chips
• Goji berries, pistachios, dried blueberries, flax seeds, cacao nibs
• Almonds, wasabi peas, sesame seeds, dried ginger, puffed rice
Granola is an excellent option for long days of energy-expenditure, and granola bars make it even easier to transport. Assuming you’re not staying with family or friends, you likely won’t have access to an oven while on Hajj or ‘Umrah, so make these at home and carry them across the seas with you!
• 2 cups quick rolled oats
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 3 cups of a mix of dried fruit, nut and seeds of your choice – toast
the nuts and seeds in the oven beforehand for greater flavour
• ¹∕3 cup peanut butter
• 6 tablespoons melted butter
• ½ cup honey
• 1 tablespoon water
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 30cm x 30cm baking pan with baking paper so the paper hangs over the sides. Grease paper.
2. Process ½ cup of oats in the blender.
3. Mix together these oats with the rest of the oats, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, sugar, spices and salt in a mixing bowl.
4. Whisk together the peanut butter with honey, butter and water. Pour over the oat mixture and mix well.
5. Pat the granola bar mix into the baking pan and pat down.
6. Bake for 35-45 minutes depending on whether you prefer your bars fudgy or crunchy. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.