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Here's What To Eat At Suhoor To Stay Energized During Ramadan

We asked a registered dietician exactly how to make your pre-dawn meal as healthy and satisfying as possible.

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Celebrating Ramadan means fasting from sunrise to sunset every day for a month, so a good pre-dawn meal is really important.

We asked Nour Zibdeh, a Muslim and a registered dietician, exactly what to eat and drink at suhoor in order to stay as healthy, happy, and energized as possible during Ramadan. Then we developed five delicious, easy original recipes that fit the bill.

Zibdeh also shared three key tips about how to make the most of suhoor. Here they are:

1. It's important to eat a substantial meal, but you may not actually need as much food as you think.

There's no universal rule on how much food to eat, since specific calorie needs depend on the individual. That said, most people should look to consume 500–600 calories at suhoor. "It's hard to eat a lot of food at 3 a.m.," Zibdeh told BuzzFeed, and "your stomach really shrinks after a few days."

Plus, your body can only process so much food at once. "Whether you eat 400 or 1,000 calories at suhoor, the reserves will empty out [after 6–8 hours] and the body will feel hungry," Zibdeh said. So there's no need to overdo it with too much food in the morning.

2. Ideally, your meal should be 40–50% carbohydrates, 25–30% protein, and 25–30% fat.

Protein and fat will help keep you full for longer, while carbohydrates are a good source of energy, and certain carbs are a good source of fiber. Zibdeh recommends high-fiber, less-processed starchy carbohydrates like oatmeal and sweet potatoes, as opposed to processed carbs like bread or pastries.

3. Always drink two glasses of water along with your meal.

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As Zibdeh previously told BuzzFeed, hydration is really important at suhoor, but juices are full of sugar and aren't the best choice. Fruits and vegetables with a high water content — like watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, and oranges — are also good for hydration and are great to eat at suhoor.

Here are five easy recipes that will keep you feeling as full and energized as possible all day long.

1. Blueberry-Flax Oatmeal

Lauren Zaser / Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

Cook oatmeal in whole milk to add more protein, then garnish with fruits for water and fiber, and nuts and seeds for healthy fats. This oatmeal takes less than 10 minutes to make, and it's voluminous enough to be really satisfying.

Servings: 1

INGREDIENTS

½ cup rolled oats

1 cup 2% milk

⅓ cup fresh blueberries

½ tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of kosher salt

Sprinkle of cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground flaxseed, divided

½ ounce almonds, roughly chopped (about 12 almonds)

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine oats, milk, blueberries, honey, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon in a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a heavy simmer (medium-low heat) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oats are soft and the mixture is thick but not gummy, 5 to 6 minutes.

Remove the oatmeal from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of the flaxseed. Serve immediately, topped with the remaining flaxseed and the almonds.

510 calories, 22.4 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 60 g carbohydrate (11 g fiber, 26 g sugars), 20 g protein, 35 mg cholesterol, 123 mg sodium

2. Protein-Packed PB&J Smoothie

Lauren Zaser / Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

This smoothie is big, but that's because it's filled with fresh fruit, yogurt, milk, and peanut butter, all of which are great for suhoor. If you can't stomach the idea of solid food before sunrise, this is your best bet.

Servings: 1

INGREDIENTS

1 cup frozen berries

½ large, ripe banana, peeled, thickly sliced, and frozen

¾ cup 2% Greek yogurt

¼ cup 2% milk

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and puree until smooth, about a minute.

If you want to make pre-portioned "smoothie packs", buy enough fruit for several smoothies, then portion it among several airtight plastic bags and store in the freezer until you're ready to blend.

488 calories, 21.4 g fat (6.5 g saturated fat), 51 g carbohydrate (7 g fiber, 30 g sugars), 28 g protein, 16 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium

3. Make-Ahead Sweet Potato and Sage Egg Bake

Lauren Zaser / Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

This healthy, filling egg bake is a great make-ahead breakfast. Cook it one morning, or the night before, then save the leftover servings to reheat later. In order to get enough carbs and fiber, we recommend eating this alongside a serving of blueberries (or your favorite fruit).

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS

2 large sweet potatoes (about 450g), peeled and cut in 1-inch cubes

Nonstick cooking spray

1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt

12 large eggs

2 teaspoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 10-ounce package frozen broccoli, thawed

¼ cup fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 375°F and spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Steam the sweet potatoes. In the microwave: Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a microwave-safe container with a lid. Add 3 tablespoons water, cover the container, and microwave on high for 9 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are soft and cooked through. On the stovetop: Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a medium pot with a lid. Add ¼ cup water water and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the sweet potatoes are soft and cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Drain the cooked sweet potatoes, then transfer them to a medium mixing bowl and mash them with two forks or a potato masher. Some lumps are OK, but the mixture should be thoroughly mashed. Let the sweet potatoes cool for at least 10 minutes, then add the Greek yogurt and stir to combine.

In a separate large mixing bowl, thoroughly beat the eggs with a whisk. Add the salt and the sweet potato mixture and continue to whisk. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk just to combine.

Pour the mixture into the greased baking dish and cook in the preheated oven until the egg is cooked through, the edges are golden brown, and there’s no liquid left on top, 30 to 35 minutes. Take the dish out of the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes, then cut the egg bake into 4 rectangles. Serve warm, or let the egg bake cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.

To reheat the egg bake: Microwave for 1 minute on high, or reheat in a 375°F oven for 5 minutes, just to heat through.

1 serving of the egg bake: 415 calories, 24 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 25 g carbohydrate (5 g fiber, 10 g sugars), 26 g protein, 583 mg cholesterol, 271 mg sodium

1 serving of the egg bake with 1 cup fresh blueberries: 496 calories, 24 g fat (10 g saturated fat), 45 g carbohydrate (9 g fiber, 25 g sugars), 27 g protein, 583 mg cholesterol, 281 mg sodium

4. Make-Ahead Cheese and Tomato Strata

Lauren Zaser / Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

This strata calls for sprouted grain bread, which Zibdeh prefers over regular bread. Chickpeas add fiber and even more protein, while the goat cheese makes this extra delicious. Bake ahead of time, then reheat a serving in the morning.

Servings: 4

INGREDIENTS

10 large eggs

½ cup 2% milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

4 slices sprouted grain bread, cut in rough 1-inch squares

1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

¼ cup basil leaves, roughly chopped

4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and salt. Add the bread and toss so that all of the bread is saturated with liquid. Refrigerate the mixture and let it sit for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

When you’re ready to bake the strata, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Take the egg and bread mixture out of the fridge and add the tomatoes, chickpeas, basil, and goat cheese to the mixing bowl. Toss everything together to thoroughly combine.

Heat olive oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Swirl the oil to coat the bottom and at least an inch up the sides. Pour the combined ingredients into the skillet, then use a spatula to spread everything evenly over the skillet, pressing the bread into a flat, even layer.

Bake the strata in the preheated oven until the eggs are completely set and the edges are golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Take the strata out of the oven and let it sit in the pan for at least 15 minutes. Flip the cooled strata out of the pan and onto a cutting board, then slice it into four portions. Eat immediately, or let the strata cool completely before storing in an airtight container in the fridge.

To reheat the strata: Microwave for 1 minute on high, or reheat in a 375°F oven for 5 minutes, just to heat through.

518 calories, 24 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 45 g carbohydrate (9 g fiber, 7 g sugars), 32 g protein, 481 mg cholesterol, 646 mg sodium

5. Watermelon and Cottage Cheese Parfait

Lauren Zaser / Andrew Richard / BuzzFeed

Cut up a whole watermelon one day and you'll have enough to make several parfaits throughout the week. Also, if pretty layers aren't really your thing, feel free to just throw everything into a bowl and devour.

Servings: 1

INGREDIENTS

1 cup watermelon, cut in ½-inch cubes

1 ounce pistachio nuts, crushed

1 cup cottage cheese, 2% fat

¼ cup low-sugar granola

INSTRUCTIONS

Layer the ingredients in a tall glass however you like!

535 calories, 22 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 53 g carbohydrate (5 g fiber, 33 g sugars), 35 g protein, 23 mg cholesterol, 874 mg sodium

This piece is part of a series of posts and essays celebrating Ramadan. Click here to read more!

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