go to content
Health

Here's What A Muslim Dietitian Eats During Ramadan

A day in the life during Ramadan (with recipes!).

Posted on

My name is Nour Zibdeh. I’m a functional dietitian and nutritionist, and I’m a practicing Muslim, living in Northern Virginia.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

I have a private practice where I help people with digestive conditions, autoimmune diseases, thyroid and other hormone balances, food sensitivities, and weight loss. I wrote a cookbook, The Detox Way: Everyday Recipes to Feel Energized, Focused, and Physically and Mentally Empowered, and share a ton of resources on my website.

I'm going to share what I typically eat — along with recipes! — during a day in Ramadan, the month when we abstain from food and water from dawn to sunset. Many of the recipes I mention below that don't have an accompanying recipe in this post can be found in The Detox Way.

Here we go!

We set the alarm — OK, maybe two or three alarms — for 3:45 a.m. This gives us 30 minutes to eat suhoor, the pre-dawn meal.

Columbia Pictures / Via giphy.com

Fajr is the time that marks the first twilight before sunrise. It also the beginning of the fast and the first prayer of the day. Here in Northern Virginia, Fajr on the first day of Ramadan is at 4:18 a.m., which means we must swallow our last bite or sip of water before then. After we make a short Fajr prayer, we go back to sleep. This helps me get two more hours of sleep on weekdays (more on weekends), and it makes a big difference.

A few mornings a week, we get out the skillet and make eggs with mushrooms, peppers, spinach, or other veggies.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

I'll make this omelet with white Nabulsi cheese, a sheep’s milk cheese similar to halloumi that holds its shape when heated. It’s sold in ethnic stores, but if you can’t find it, add feta cheese instead after mixing in the eggs. I don’t season with salt, because the cheese has enough and I don’t want to be too thirsty during the day.

While the eggs cook, I sip on at least one cup of water, if not two. I usually skip the bread and eat a half cup of berries or half an apple instead. I like to get my carbs from water-rich fruit, which helps hydrate my body to be ready for the fast.

We have the eggs with salsa or fresh tomato slices. I'll add a couple of tablespoons of sauerkraut on the side, which contains good-for-you live cultures (probiotics).

Here's my recipe:

Omelet With Spinach, Mushrooms, and Cheese

Ingredients

• 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

• ¼ cup Nabulsi white cheese cubes (or feta or your preferred shredded cheese)

• 1 cup spinach, chopped

• 1 cup sliced mushrooms

• 4 eggs

• Pepper to taste

Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil on medium heat. Olive oil will not go bad if used with low-medium heat for a quick sauté like making eggs. Add the Nabulsi cheese cubes and sauté until golden. Add the mushroom and spinach and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile, crack the eggs in a bowl and whisk. Season with a few shakes of pepper. Add the second teaspoon of olive oil if the skillet looks dry. Pour in the eggs and let them start to set. Tip the pan in all directions to let the eggs cook evenly. Flip the omelet, cook for another minute, and serve. If you can’t flip it, slide it into a plate, then return to the skillet with the top side down.

Sometimes we make our breakfast in advance so we don't have to deal with cooking something when we wake up.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

We might boil eggs before going to bed and have one or two with avocado slices, fruit, and some fresh veggies.

My black bean egg bake is an easy-to-heat option. And when we're not in the mood for eggs, we have muesli soaked overnight with milk (or coconut milk), a smoothie, or a cup of cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt topped with chia or hemp seeds and some fruit.

No matter what I eat, the last thing that goes into my body is more water.

The first hunger pang hits around 8 or 9 a.m.

giphy.com

That’s expected, since it’s 4-5 hours after suhoor. By this time, glucose from the meal has run out and my body is already using up its glycogen stores. On weekdays, I’m in my office helping and counseling my clients, and the day goes by very fast.

Throughout the day, no food or water is allowed. Not a single sip. Not even chewing gum. It’s tough for sure during this time of year, with long — and potentially warm and humid — days. But we do it anyway.

Do I get hungry and get cravings while I talk about food all day? You bet!

The rest of the day is like any other work or weekend day, minus the meals, snacks, or water. There are two more prayers during the day, and keeping busy helps the hours go by fast! I try to make time for a nap in the late afternoon. Everyone struggles with getting enough sleep, and a nap helps make up for the interrupted sleep.

When it comes to exercise, I definitely lower the intensity for the 16-hour fasts.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

After work, I’m chasing three kids, who keep me active. Sometimes we go to the park or do a light walk in the neighborhood. When I’m able to exercise, it’s light and closer to sunset, so I can refuel and hydrate right away.

The sun sets at 8:26 p.m., and a 16-ounce cup of water and dates are ready for me so I can break the fast.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

Maghrib marks the beginning of sunset, the fourth prayer in the day, and the green light to eat. Dates supply natural sugar that helps the body hydrate fast, as well as fiber, potassium, and magnesium. We like the large sweet medjool dates, and I limit myself to one — OK, sometimes I can’t resist and have a second.

Ahhh. I feel the water and sugar running through my veins. The feeling is out of this world.

We always have soup right away.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

My favorite is vegetable soup made with homemade chicken bone broth. Bone broth has healing nutrients that nourish the digestive and immune systems, as well as the skin, hair, and nails. I make broth before Ramadan and store it in glass jars in the freezer.

Here's how I make it:

Vegetable Soup With Homemade Chicken Bone Broth

INGREDIENTS

• 1 tablespoon olive oil


• 1 small onion, chopped


• 4 garlic cloves, chopped

• 2 celery stalks, chopped

• 2 large carrots, chopped

• 1 large zucchini, chopped

• 1 cup kale or spinach, chopped

• 2 tomatoes on the vine, chopped

• ½ teaspoon sea salt

• ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

• ½ teaspoon ground allspice

• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon

• ¼ teaspoon turmeric

• 4–6 cups chicken stock

• ½ cup parsley, chopped, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pan on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots, and sauté for 1–2 more minutes. Add the zucchini, kale, and tomatoes. Season with sea salt, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, and turmeric. Add 4 cups of chicken stock or water and simmer on low heat for 20–30 minutes. Check often and add more water if needed. Garnish with parsley right before serving.

After the soup, we take a short break and pray Maghrib. Then we continue with the iftar meal.

The stomach shrinks after a 16-hour fast, and it’s normal to feel very satisfied from a date, a glass of water, and a bowl of soup. Because I need to nourish my body to carry on with the fast the next day, I make sure that every bite counts.

I start with a salad. This one is a Middle Eastern parsley salad with tahini dressing.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

Here's how to make it:

Middle Eastern Parsley Salad With Tahini Dressing

INGREDIENTS

• 3 tomatoes

• ½ cucumber

• 1 bell pepper

• 2 cups parsley


• ¼ cup tahini sauce


• 3 tablespoons lemon juice

• ½ teaspoon sea salt


• ¼ teaspoon black pepper

• 1 tablespoon water

Dice the tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper. Finely chop the parsley. Combine in a bowl. To make the dressing, combine the tahini sauce, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and water in a small bowl or glass jar or cup. Mix well until smooth. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss.

I rotate a few salads throughout the month to keep things interesting.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

The salads above are arugula and fennel salad with orange vinaigrette (top), chopped kale salad with almond vinaigrette (bottom left), and detox cauliflower salad (bottom right).

The main dish is something balanced with protein, some vegetables, and a small portion of carbs.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

It’s important to replenish carbohydrate stores while balancing the carbs with protein, healthy fats, and fiber. If I'm making rice or potatoes, I limit myself to a half cup.

I like casseroles that don’t need a lot of last-minute prep work, like this baked chicken fajita casserole. It’s very easy to assemble, and I like it with some beans on the side and few slices of avocado.

Here's how to make it:

Baked Chicken Fajita Casserole

INGREDIENTS

• 3 bell peppers (any color), cut into wide slices

• 1 onion, yellow or red, cut into wide slices

• 3 large tomatoes, cut into wedges

• 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

• 1 small can green chiles

• 1½ pounds chicken breasts or tenders, cut into strips

• 1 teaspoon chili powder

• 2 teaspoons cumin

• 2 teaspoons coriander

• ½ teaspoon sea salt

• ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

• 1 tablespoon oregano, dried

• 1 tablespoon basil, dried

• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

• Freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice (optional)

• Fresh cilantro (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place peppers, onion, tomatoes, garlic, green chiles, and chicken strips in a baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, oregano, and basil. Rub the chicken and vegetables with the spice mix. Drizzle with the olive oil. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked.

To serve, top with fresh cilantro and lemon or lime juice. Serve with guacamole, fresh salsa, and beans.

I rotate other simple-to-make entrees throughout Ramadan.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

Above is my detox shepherd's pie (left), chicken and greens over sweet potato (top center), lemon garlic shrimp (top right), and Middle Eastern lamb stew with green beans (bottom).

Then comes my beloved cup of coffee while enjoying my beautifully decorated living room!

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

I don’t give up caffeine during Ramadan. Coffee has antioxidants, so it’s OK in my dietitian-nutritionist book. Each person has a different reaction to caffeine, so do what feels best for your body.

The fifth prayer in the day is 'Isha, followed by a long voluntary Ramadan-specific prayer called Tarawih.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

Between 10:30 and 11:30 p.m., my 24-ounce water bottle is next to me to sip on.

And then it's time for this concoction of dried fruit, nuts, and rosewater called Khushaf. It's light and satisfies a sweet craving.

Courtesy Nour Zibdeh

The fiber helps you go, and that’s always important.

This recipe serves four. Here's how to make it:

Khushaf

INGREDIENTS

1 cup dried apricots 


1 cup dried fruit (choose from prunes, raisins, prunes, figs, or dates)

½ cup nuts, like slivered almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, shelled pistachios, or pine nuts 


2 tablespoon orange blossom water 


1 cup water 


Chop apricots into quarters. Chop all dried fruit into a similar size. Place in a medium-sized bowl. Roughly chop the nuts and add to the fruit. Add the water and orange blossom water. Combine well. Store in the fridge for 2–4 hours before serving.

Bedtime is a little after midnight.

whitetrash.tk

I drink 16 more ounces of water before going to sleep. All three alarms are set, and we’re ready for the next day, which, unfortunately, starts in just a few hours. That's why I love my Ramadan afternoon naps.

Good night!

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!

Dismiss