Everyone is talking about this year’s daily fasts in Ramadan being so long because sunset (the time when the fast is broken) will come a little after 8pm here in Chicago. It’s also a hot summer season. Very hot.
Fasting isn’t meant to be perfectly easy or else how could we savor the reward of building self-discipline? It’s also not meant to harm us, either. We have to do it right so that we can experience it with enough energy to get through the day, do our work and take care of other responsibilities.
I suggest the way to fast successfully is to eat as healthy as you possibly can during ‘eating hours’ and never, ever miss suhoor (the pre-dawn meal before fasting). By eating healthy, I don’t mean just eating fruits, vegetables and protein, but I mean eating all of those foods that have been grown in nutrient-rich soil, traveled only a short distance and are as minimally processed as possible.
Foods that satisfy and nourish our bodies don’t strip away our energy, leaving us lethargic and crashing by midday. Instead, foods packed with energy, made from whole ingredients and from animals that have been treated and fed well throughout their life actually give us the energy and nutrition we need to get through a long day of fasting. It’s not about the quantity of food we eat, but truly about the quality.
I like to think about eggs as a great example of how we can easily eat healthy and hearty at the same time. If you crack an egg open and it’s golden yellow, it’s full of nutrition and all the good stuff your body needs to use the vitamins and minerals in it. What that means is that whoever is raising those chickens is most likely taking great care of them- giving them great ventilation, all-vegetarian feed and allowing them exposure to the sun or outdoors. We should be eating chicken only from farmers and businesses who of course assure their product is halal, but also those that can tell us the animals have been well taken care of, are properly-fed, and are free of antibiotics or hormones.
Without that, the question is ‘what are we really putting into our bodies and how is it helping us through long days of fasting or any other time’?
To have a hearty suhoor, avoid sugary, salty or fried foods and instead eat a well-balanced meal that includes plenty of protein, whole grain and even vegetables and/or fruit. I like to go a little higher in protein than I usually do and have eggs plus beans or meat because they really help me last throughout the day. It’s much better than eating sugary cereals or overloading on carbs with typical breakfast foods like pancakes or waffles.
Parmesan & Feta Quiche
I could honestly eat some of the meaty chicken tenders by Saffron Road with this quiche recipe. They’re so lightly breaded and not at all spicy- it’s actually a quick, easy and no-mess food for suhoor when you’re generally half-awake to cook anything, anyway.
Prepare the quiche the night before by baking it in the evening when it’s cooler outside. Or, reserve the egg batter and defrosted ready-made pie crust in the refrigerator, separately then bake. If you do that, you’ll have to give yourself at least an hour for baking and cooling before eating.
Parmesan and Feta Quiche
1 ready-made pie crust
1 ½ cups vegetarian rennet-based Parmesan grated
¾ cup milk
1 cup Feta cheese
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
2 tablespoons butter (5 small pats around the top of the raw quiche)
Preheat oven to 425°.
Roll out the pie dough and place in an ungreased glass pie plate. Fold and crimp the edges as you would a pie.
Place ½ cup grated Parmesan in the center of the pie and spread around evenly.
Mix the eggs with the milk and beat vigorously until they are thoroughly mixed.
Add the Feta and salt (most Feta is generally very salty, so you may not want to add much more salt to the mix). Add the ground pepper, parsley, thyme and basil. Mix again.
Pour egg mixture into the pie plate. Add the pats of the butter all around the top.
Add the remaining Parmesan cheese.
To bake, place the pie plate on the baking sheet in case anything spills over. Cover the edges with foil to prevent burning.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the eggs are completely cooked in the center and the top is nicely browned.
Bismillah and Buon Appetito!
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