During Ramadhan, my husband has always emphasised the importance of a healthy diet. Not least because he worries about the inevitable discomfort that comes along at taraweeh time, after having filled the stomach to the brim with greasy fried foods. Eating well all of the time is a real struggle for us. However, Ramadhan gives us the motivation to do just that and this year we hope to implement healthy eating habits all year round.
For us, Ramadhan is a month of spiritual transformation. Whilst eating a balanced diet is important all year around, It almost feels like it becomes even more important during Ramadhan. Not only does an ’empty vessel’ give us the ability to engage fully in ibadah, it also helps us to tune in to who we are and enables us to rectify our hearts. This increased awareness makes us alert to our shortcomings and helps us to take a magnifying glass to areas where self improvement is required.
I recently listened to a lecture about healthy eating during Ramadhan. In it there was a discussion regarding the need to control ourselves when there is ‘unhealthy food’ around. If a plate of brownies (or whatever your weakness may be) was in front of you, you could simply have a little and move on. Though more often, we find that not only are the brownies finished, we have finished the rice and milkshake too! This method of having just a little, is from the sunnah of our beloved Prophet (SAW) who said:
“There is no vessel which the son of Adam can fill that is more evil than his stomach, for it is enough for him to take a few bites in order to straighten his back. Yet if he is overcome by appetite, then he may fill it with a third of food, a third of drink, and a third of breath.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
With that in mind, my husband and I decided to adopt a 80 – 20 rule going forward. So we would eat well 80% of the time and the remaining 20% would be saved for controlled indulgence with the hope that this methodology will teach us discipline and self restraint.
These date recipes have also been created with that very idea in mind. For the most part they are healthy, but self control is required for the chocolate dates! It is all too easy to sit there and eat a few too many of them…
This is a Prophetic drink and as such it holds huge benefits. There are countless benefits to eating/drinking dates. Here I have listed just a few:
• Increased energy levels – Dates are high in natural sugars and therefore they are great for a quick burst of energy.
• Strengthening of bones – The minerals found in dates help strengthen bones.
• Promotion of digestive health – The fibres and amino acids in dates aid in the digestion of food.
• Great source of Iron – The reason we need iron is that it helps to transport oxygen throughout the body. If we don’t get enough oxygen in the body, amongst other things, we get fatigued. Iron is also necessary to maintain healthy cells, skin, hair and nails.
• Dates also contain a significant amounts of vitamins A and K. Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision. It also plays a role in bone growth.
Nabeez is also an alkalising drink that removes acid from the stomach, helping the body maintain its blood pH level. This is thought to help prevent illness.
Ingredients and Directions:
Simply soak the dates overnight and drink the water in which they are soaked in the morning.
Notes: Leaving dates in water for too long (especially in a warm place can cause fermentation). If you feel like it is particularly warm in your home, put your date cup into the fridge. This picture was taken just as the dates went in.
2. Date Yoghurt
This is a light and delicious breakfast option that is both filing and healthy. I love to have this outside of Ramadhan, too.
200g Greek yoghurt, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 tsp honey, 1 Tbsp mixed seeds/nuts/dried fruit, 3 dates pitted and chopped, 1 tsp cacao nibs (optional)
Combine the yoghurt, honey and peanut butter in a small bowl and mix well. Top with dates, seeds/nuts/fruit and cacao nibs.
3. Date, Peanut Butter and Banana Smoothie
I make this drink a lot during Ramadhan. Why? Because It is a real energy booster and it keeps me going through my fast. I add some full bananas in sometimes and more oats. This makes it a little thicker and I then eat it with a spoon.
1 banana, 4 dates pitted, 1 Tbsp peanut butter, 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder, 10g oats, 300 ml milk, 1 tsp honey
Blend all the ingredients together and enjoy!
4 Date Bliss Bites
These are great little truffle-style bites that keep well in the fridge for up to two weeks. They are an instant pick-me-up. Also a great snack idea for kids’ lunch boxes or indeed for the husbands’ tiffin.
(Makes 20 – 25 balls)
200g mixed chopped nuts, 3 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 420g dates pitted and soaked in just enough water to cover them, 1 Tbsp coconut oil, 1 piece of dark chocolate (around 10 – 15g).
Put the nuts and cocoa powder in a food processor and pulse. Remove the dates from the water and drain, squeezing as much water out as you can. Add the dates, and coconut oil to the blender and process until it starts to come together. Roll into 1 inch balls. Top with a little salt and grate a little chocolate over each ball.
5 Date Cereal Bars
How handy are cereal bars? At Suhoor time, a healthy snack that you can grab and have quickly is so very convienent. Here’s how I make mine. The dark chocolate is optional and the bars are delicious without it too.
(Makes 10 – 12 bars)
230g oats, 130g mixed chopped nuts and seeds, 75g dates pitted and chopped/blended into 1/2 cm pieces, 170g peanut butter, 110ml honey or agave nectar, 100g 70% or higher dark chocolate melted (optional), sprinkle sea salt (optional).
Line a small baking tin with cling film or baking paper. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients for the bars apart from the dark chocolate and sea salt. Stir well until well combined. If the mixture is dry, squeeze in a little more agave or honey. Spread the mixture in the prepared tin and press down firmly with a spatula/small glass cup, back of spoon – whatever you fancy. Pop in the fridge overnight. If using dark chocolate, top bars with dark chocolate and a sprinkle of sea salt. Cut into bars and wrap individually. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.
6 Chocolate Dates
These are a favourite with everyone and so simple to put together. They are also great to make with the kids.
Dates pitted and sliced open, dark chocolate, milk chocolate white chocolate.
I haven’t included quantities here because it depends on the number of dates you are using. To make the dates, you will need to line a tray with baking paper and after dipping the dates in chocolate, add them to the tray. Once they are covered, pop them into the fridge to set.
Stem (or Crystalized) Ginger – Place small piece of stem ginger in the middle of the date. Close the date. Dip into the dark choc and top with a piece of stem ginger.
Sesame seeds and Tahini – Put a 1/4 tsp tahini into the middle of the date. Close the date and dip in dark chocolate, Top with sesame seeds.
Peanut butter – Place a salted peanut in the date. Close the date and dip in dark chocolate mixture. Place a peanut on top.
Almond – Place an almond in the middle of the date. Close the date and dip in dark chocolate. Add ground almonds to the top.
Safira Adam is a food blogger and mum to a four-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl. You can read more of her delicious food articles at www.tiffinandteaofficial.com And find her on social media at: