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Jun 25, 2013 12:22 AM

High-calorie, nutritious meals for Ramadan nights, and tarawih snacks

Where I live, the fasting day is 18-19 hours long this year, so I'm looking for some good ideas for meals that can keep up my energy level during the day. Also, I'm still breastfeeding, though not exclusively (baby is 10 months old and eats a few small solid meals per day). Before anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim asks, yes, I am allowed to break my fast if it affects my milk supply, or if there are any symptoms of dehydration, or if I'm dizzy, and yes, I will do so.

Also, we're temporarily overseas in a bare-bones one-room apartment with no oven, only a cooker (but feel free to post "oven" ideas for others' benefit!). Iftar (the time we break the fast at sunset) is right at the baby's current bedtime, so I want meals I can eat quickly and then put her to bed. We're not big meat eaters in our family, but we have meat sometimes. So far I'm thinking wrap sandwiches (can supplement with snacks later); pastas with tomato, cheese, and vegetable sauces; beef stroganoff; biscuits and gravy; plov (my Tajik husband's national dish - made from rice, carrots, and meat).

Also looking for small snack ideas to eat during the night (without waking up the baby), especially between tarawih cycles (special prayers during the night in Ramadan). So far I'm thinking of cheese; leftover salad from iftar; trail mixes; Greek yogurt; cereal; chicken salad (I already eat a lot of fruit when I break my fast). If there are no healthy snacks available in the house, I will eat junk food, which I don't want to do.

For suhur (pre-dawn meal, last food before the fasting day), I usually eat whole wheat bread with peanut butter and/or cheese, some fruit (usually a banana), a boiled egg, a glass of whole milk, and water.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. In addition to peanut butter - I highly recommend adding nuts of your choosing. I don't know if you'd want to top the plov with almonds or anything - but definitely just adding nuts to snacks will provide extra good fat.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cresyd

      I'm all for adding nuts to absolutely anything! Thanks.

      1. re: musicalchef

        Another idea for snacks - I don't know if you have access to tirmis (Egyptian snack) - but those are another great option. Also, if you are going to have hummus, topping it with ful or pine nuts are other good ideas to beef up calorie/fiber count.

        Another egg idea would be shakshuka (North African egg dish of eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce) - if you serve that with some labne or yogurt - another good protein dish that avoids meat.

    2. Excellent thread for this time of year! My husband is Muslim, but I am not, so I tend to start thinking about now about what I'm going to feed him for Ramadan.

      The husband comes from Sri Lanka, so culturally, he's used to rice and curries, so when we're in the same house as his parents, his mother cooks rice and curries for breakfast, but the husband takes too long to eat rice in the morning (and who wants to get up any earlier than they have to?), so I have to find foods that are much quicker for him to eat. He does better with plenty of protein in the morning.

      In the past, I've made him, for lack of a better term, open faced sandwiches on naan. Western loaf bread is too insubstantial and takes too long to eat, hence the naan, which he prefers anyway. I make a batch of 6 or 12 and keep the rest in the freezer - they keep very well that way.

      I'm considering making gozleme this year, provided I can get it right. Gozleme is a Turkish dish which is basically an enclosed sandwich that you make with the dough, then fry it stuffed to cook it.

      Either way, meat (boneless and shredded, everything I can do to make it easier for him to eat fast...) is always included. Then vegetables of some sort. I also have, in the past, made larabars, which he enjoys. Larabars are a sort of energy bar made with dates, other dried fruit, nuts, coconut, whatever you like. They're quite tasty and easy to eat quickly.

      For breaking fast, he always gets soup - he doesn't do well eating solid food for the evening meal. Or, if his parents are in town, his mother will make a savory porridge with red rice (the Sri Lankan version of brown rice), chicken, green chillies, garlic, onion, and a green chilli sambol (green chillis, coconut, garlic, onion, I think). There are other types of porridge (buckwheat with beef, for example), but the rice and chicken one is the one his mother makes.

      Following soup/porridge, he'll have some short eats, which is the Sri Lankan way of saying small deep fried things, like spring rolls or patis or that sort of thing.

      I'm really curious to hear about other suggestions. :)

      3 Replies
      1. re: LMAshton

        I'm not much of a soup fan, but that rice porridge with chicken sounds good! I might have to try that some time.

        1. re: musicalchef

          Savory porridge was a foreign concept for me. In my culture, porridge s are always sweet. But I tried it - I nearly always try everything new just on principle - and found it delicious. For me, the green chilli symbol really makes it. I think I'll have to make some this year since the mil is in another country, so I won't be able to have hers. :)

          1. re: musicalchef

            Have you tried jook? It's the Chinese version of the same thing, savory rice porridge with other stuff, often including meats.

        2. Salaam- wishing you a felicitous Ramadan!

          Definitely things with healthy fat, like nuts, will help keep you sustained for as long as possible. So will sources of protein and fiber.

          Beans are a great choice- I like making a chickpea salad with a tahini yogurt lemon dressing, lots of chopped fresh parsley and cilantro, a variety of vegetables (I've added cucumbers, tomatoes, red bell peppers, cooked cubed sweet potatoes, and steamed snap peas.) Just make sure you drink plenty of water to keep the GI running smoothly. :)

          Hummus is another good quick option, because of the fat protein and fiber in it.

          A simple tuna salad or egg salad may be nice to add into the rotation, along with the chicken salad.

          Speaking of eggs, they are great, quick nourishment. Toss is a couple of chopped leftover vegetables and bits of cheese to make an omelet. Fritatta can be good even leftover and cold.

          Sometimes I'll make a batch of peanut noodles with lots of chopped vegetables and small pieces of protein- leftover meat, shrimp, or tofu. They keep well for a long time and it's also fast to prepare, especially if you mix up the peanut dressing is advance. This recipe looks close to what I make up off the top of my head at home:

          If you have a blender, pureed soups are good for quick, one-handed nourishment out of a glass or mug that give extra hydration. Cold ones, like yoguert, cucumber and dill are is gazpacho (red or white). Nice amounts of olive oil are great in both of these for flavor and satiety. If you don't mind heating up things, dahl and other lentil/bean soups can be satisfying and nutritious.

          Try making whole grain choices when you can- pasta, pitas, breads, grains.....they may take longer to cook, but they usually store well, and can be a part of nice filling cold salads, like tabbouleh.

          Good luck! I hope you are finding the guidance and strength you need.

          7 Replies
          1. re: 4Snisl


            Yes, we're trying to get used to whole grain pasta and brown rice. The peanut noodles sound good, I might have to try that! We're also in the habit of making big batches of whatever we're eating and then having leftovers, so that makes things easier.

            1. re: 4Snisl

              "I like making a chickpea salad with a tahini yogurt lemon dressing, lots of chopped fresh parsley and cilantro, a variety of vegetables (I've added cucumbers, tomatoes, red bell peppers, cooked cubed sweet potatoes, and steamed snap peas.)"

              That sounds fantastic. The salad I can figure out, but for he dressing, would you mind providing a more specific recipe?

              1. re: LMAshton

                Let's usually to taste, but here's an estimation. Stir together:
                -1 cup plain greek yogurt
                -1 tsp minced fresh garlic soaked in 2 Tablespoons or fresh lemon juice (the lemon takes the raw harsh edge off the garlic)
                -1/3 cup tahini paste (add about 1/4 tsp of sugar to balance the flavor if your tahini has a bitter edge)
                -Dash of favorite hot sauce (lately I've been using a habanero one)
                -Salt to taste

                Hope you enjoy!

                1. re: 4Snisl

                  Excellent! I can work with that. Thanks! :)

                  1. re: 4Snisl

                    I made this today with a couple tweaks for our taste buds. I added 2 teaspoons chilli powder (like cayenne pepper but hotter and NOT the spice blend) and a couple tablespoons chopped cilantro.

                    We love it. The husband, who is a fan of neither yoghurt or tahini, licked the spoon. Thanks!

                    Oh, I didn't make the chickpea salad. I made the dressing to go with our tandoori chicken. :)

                    1. re: LMAshton

                      Wonderful! Thanks for the update. I'm glad the dressing/sauce has lots of uses and variations. The chili powder and cilantro sounds right up my alley- I love both! Other variations I've done include chopped mint, chopped parsley, fresh minced chilies, chipotle pepper get the idea.

                      1. re: 4Snisl

                        Oh yeah, I'm totally on board with all of that. But cilantro was what I had, so...

                        I also used it as my salad dressing. I'm not a fan of bottled dressings and their multisyllabic mystery ingredients, so this was perfect. :)

              2. Thanks for all the suggestions! We're getting a used toaster oven soon, so now i can make small pizzas, focaccia, and casseroles.

                We usually break our fast on dates, and something I do every once in awhile for a treat is to stuff the dates (these should be "plump" dates like medjools) with roasted almonds and saute them on medium heat with a little oil for a few minutes, just until the skins are smooth and they are nice and hot. Then, sprinkle them with a little sea salt and maybe a bit of lime juice, and eat them while they're still hot. Very tasty, and kind of an impressive presentation if you have guests!

                2 Replies
                1. re: musicalchef

                  I know you don't eat much meat, but I wonder if dates stuffed with makanek and served with goat cheese and lavender honey might be a halal version of the popular chorizo-stuffed dates.

                  1. re: JungMann

                    For some reason dates stuffed with meat,especially sausage, just don't sound too good to me. I like them stuffed with various nuts, sometimes a bit of citrus zest and/or coconut too.

                2. For keeping up your energy - you might want to try some sort of coconut. coconut fat keeps you going for long periods of time! My husband runs half marathons and he couldn't do it without coconut water and coconut bars. Maybe you could add some coconut to your trail mix, yogurt, or suhur meal. (we use the unsweetened kind from the health food story, BTW)