Healthy Ramadan Snacks
Simple pleasures are the last healthy refuge in a complex world, says Oscar Wilde. Usually when we imagine simple and healthy, regarding food, we don’t consider it synonymous with delicious and fun. Changing lifestyles all about changing mindsets. A vast number of natural foods are both tasty and healthy, and don’t need to be processed or modified to be made appetizing, colorful or versatile. Eating whole foods is simple – imagine Nature’s gifts unprocessed. When you avoid processed foods, it means swapping out granulated sugar for naturally sweet fruits and vegetables. Dates and figs are two such natural candies that are highly nutritious and provide ample satisfaction for sweet tooth cravings.
Eating Healthy In Ramadan
It’s absolutely essential to make healthy eating a lifestyle which means staying mindful of what we eat and drink round the year. But even the most disciplined among us struggle with staying on track during festivals and special occasions. Ramadan or the Muslim month of fasting is when I find myself struggling most against my cravings for processed carbs and unhealthy comfort foods. After a long day of abstaining from all food and drinks, including water, a chilled bottle of coke or deep fried samosa pastry stuffed with spicy potatoes look specially tempting, right! So that’s exactly when we need to provide our body with nutritious but attractive alternatives. Dates and figs are two such fruits that are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber which makes them an ideal starter for Iftar in Ramadan (breaking the fast).
Dates Health Benefits
Dates or Khajur (as called in Urdu) is a rich, delicious and nutritious fruit. Dates being the sweetest fruit with natural sugar content is a great substitute for processed sugar and reduces cravings for unhealthy sweet products. Dates are known to reduce cholesterol, help manage weight and produce disease fighting antioxidants. They strengthen bones, especially improve post-menopausal bone health, as high potassium intake protects bone mass by reducing the amount of calcium excreted through the kidneys. Dates diluted in warm milk solve the insomnia problem. They are also helpful in promoting brain health and reducing inflammation. Regular consumption of dates can ease constipation ( one of the biggest issues while fasting).
I’ve stuffed the dates with almonds and pistachios, you can use mixed nuts of your choice. Walnuts, pistachios, cashews, pine nuts, pecans would do wonderfully well. Want to make them a bit more indulgent? Try mixing a little cream cheese or paneer with the nuts stuffing. Be innovative and add some peanut butter or coat the stuffed dates with dark chocolate.
Figs Health Benefits
DRY fruits, in general, are great energy foods that are loaded with essential nutrients like minerals and vitamins. Anjeer or fig is one of the most popularly used dried fruit in the Middle-eastern and South Asian cuisines. This heart healthy fruit helps keep junk and fried food at bay. Choosing figs for a light snack keeps you feeling full for a longer time in a healthy way.
Figs Soaked in Syrup
Figs soaked in honey and apple cider vinegar syrup taste amazing – little soft pillows, filled with mildly sweet and a touch sour syrup. If you are soaking the figs to reduce sweetness, then skip adding honey. Soaked figs first thing in the morning work wonders for digestion. I’ve mentioned two methods of making these – by briefly boiling or by soaking overnight.
Ingredients for Stuffed Dates
- 16 soft dates, pitted
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1/4 cup pistachios
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 cup fresh cottage cheese or paneer
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
This Is What You Do
There should be no grit on the dates. Make sure to clean. If you don’t have soft dates, soak the hard ones in warm water for 15 minutes. Remove stones.
Dry roast almonds and pistachios till they are lightly toasted. Chop or crush into coarse bits.
In a bowl mash up cheese/paneet into a creamy paste. Add salt and mix. Add crushed nuts and mix.
Fill about 1/2 teaspoon of cheese and nuts mix in each date. The dates will look like little boats filled with the delicious mix. Enjoy!
Ingredients for Soaked Figs
- 8 dried figs
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 cup water
This Is What You Do
Heat water in a saucepan, add all the other ingredients.
Cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes.
Turn the heat off and cover pan till figs turn soft and swell up.
Or mix all the ingredients in a bowl and soak figs overnight or till they swell up.
Serve chilled in syrup.