5 Healthy Menus to Spice Up your Iftar

April 24, 2019

Ramadan – the annual observance for Muslims around the world is vast approaching. Regarded as one of the essentials part of Islam, this 29 – 30 days observance is highly anticipated due to many interesting aspects of the holy month itself – historically and culturally. History had written that around 610 A.D, Muhammad received revelations from Allah through angel Gabriel, which then collected into a holy book known as Quran. In Quran, it is written that on the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, when the crescent moon arises, the annual observance Ramadan will soon to begin.
As the largest Muslim country in the world, it is safe to say that Ramadan has always been considered as one of the biggest religious events in Indonesia. Not only due to its large devotees population (220 million people), but the diversity of Indonesia’s culture and heritage also seems to add into the festivity of Ramadan in this country. Especially when it comes to its traditional food – on Ramadan you can find wide varieties of food almost on every streets and corners. Since Ramadan will greet us in less than a week, we are here to provide you with some insight on what would be the best food to choose – specifically for Iftar. We will be focusing on delicious and healthy meal, so you wouldn’t feel so guilty after eating a huge amount of it!

1.    Dates
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If we open a discussion about Ramadan and Iftar, we can’t help but thinking about this particular fruit – dates. Before we get into details about the benefits of dates for your Iftar, let’s learn a little bit about this plant. Phoenix dactylifera or commonly known as date is a flowering plant species in the palm family with a distinct natural sweetness to it. Spreading across Northern Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East, the very existence of dates can be traced back to 50 million years ago, when archeological evidence of this fruit was found around eastern Arabia. As in some religions such as Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, dates were also mentioned in each holy book – making this fruit even more relatable to religious observance like Ramadan. Apart from its close relationship with several religions, what is actually the reason behind people’s obsession over this palm fruit? Research shows that dates can provide vitality for its consumer, since this fruit is high in calories and sugar. Since we’ve lost significant amount of energy during fasting, our body will need certain type of foods to regain our energy back – thus dates are considered to be the best choice.

2.    Fruits and vegetables
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When it comes to Iftar, people will often assume that the only way for them to regain their energy back is by eating lots of food at a short amount of time. A common term like “lapar mata” becomes a staple on Ramadan, because it can perfectly describe our habits on buying unnecessary amount of food on Iftar because we feel very hungry. What makes this habit even worse is the fact that we tend to ditch fruits and vegetables out of our Iftar menu, for we feel that fried dishes are a lot tastier. Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health stated that fruits and vegetables are the most important part of our diet, because not only high in vitamins, but it can also lower the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, etc. Thus, it will be wise for us to add fruits and vegetables on our Iftar menu. For those of you who might still feeling a bit hesitated to change up your Iftar game into something healthier, then you’re in for a treat – because we’re going to provide some interesting references for you. As we all know, Indonesia is known to be one of the countries with the most diverse food range. Thus, it wouldn’t be a problem for you to find variations of food with fruits and vegetables as its main ingredients. For instance Gado-Gado or Mixed Vegetables can be a great choice for those who love the richness of peanut sauce combined with varieties of steamed veggies. Lumpia Sayuran or Vegetables Spring Roll is perfect for those who are looking for a unique version of healthy food. If you more of a sweet-tooth kind of person, add slices of fresh fruits onto your menu and you’re ready to go!

3.    Oats
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Avena Sativa or commonly known as oat is claimed to be one of the healthiest grain cereal on earth. According to healthline.com, oats are incredibly nutritious due to the fact that this grain composed of well-balanced nutrients, carbs, fiber, and protein. Not only that, oats is also rich in vitamins, antioxidant, and minerals which of course are very vital for your body. Some of you might wonder, isn’t it odd to have a breakfast menu for your Iftar and isn’t that going to be boring? Well, thanks to the internet, we can now find some of the most unique and delicious oats recipes to spice up this Ramadan. If you’re leaning towards oats’ classic recipe, you can mix your cooked oats with freshly chopped bananas or handful of berries. Overnight oats is a great option for those who like to go in a great length. You can mixed your uncooked oats with water or milk, then add other ingredients like brown sugar, vanilla extract, chia seeds, and maybe a dash of greek yoghurt on top. Healthy Iftar will no longer be boring.

4.    Pasta
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Did you know that pasta can actually be another healthy food alternative to spice up your Iftar? Because not only contain with proteins, carbs, and as many as 1% fat, pasta is also universally known to be one of the simplest and easiest  food to make – it’s a win-win situation. Before we dive into the lists of healthy pasta recipes, let’s take a quick look on the history of this beloved food itself. This might come as a shocking news to you, but many historians believed that pasta is actually discovered by Marco Polo upon his trip to China around the 13th century. He then introduced pasta to Italians in 1217 – and the rest is history. From its widespread popularity around 1200’s until now, there are probably hundreds of pasta recipes existed around the world – with Spaghetti Bolognese as the most popular one. For those of who are seeking for healthier version of this beloved Italian dish, try to keep your recipe light by avoiding excessive source of fat like meat, chicken, or sausages. Instead, replace these ingredients with source of proteins like fish, scallop, shrimp, or vegetables for vegetarians out there. If you can’t keep meat or chicken out of your recipe, try to pick ones with less fat in it – skinless chicken breast and round steak can be the perfect choices for you. Last but not least, you can also replace your regular pasta with the low-carb versions of it.

5.    Soup
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Similar with pasta, this dish can be a great alternative for those who are looking for a simple yet healthy food recipe – even though one of the downsides of soup is that this dish can sometimes be pretty boring. Thus, in order to avoid the somehow mundane nature of soup, we’re going to provide some information which hopefully can amp up your Iftar game. For those who have small amount of time to get their Iftar or dinner ready, the good ol’ Chicken Soup is an excellent choice for you. Because not only tasty and quite easy to make, the broth on Chicken Soup contains with vitamin D, potassium, calcium, proteins, etc. If you add more vegetables into your soup, you can also get plenty of vitamins which can help you regain your energy. Cream Soup can be an excellent choice if you prefer the richness of chicken broth combined with flour, milk, spices, and maybe chunks of chicken and mushroom. Needless to say, as easy as it is to make, soup is another healthy alternative for you to regain your energy back after a long day of fasting.