Ramadan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and also the holy month of fasting is currently being observed by Muslims all over the world. This period is marked by prayer, inner reflection, charity, patience and kindness. During Ramadan, meals are eaten twice a day Suhur (predawn meal) and iftar (meal eaten after sunset).
There are categories of people exempted from fasting and these include pregnant and lactating mothers, menstruating women, travellers and sometimes sick children. Healthy people with the ideal nutritional status and nutritional requirements are capable of undergoing the fasting season..
Due to the amount of time spent fasting in a day, the right proportion of essential nutrients is required – 60% energy (carbohydrates and fats), Proteins (15 – 29%), vitamins and minerals (7-11%). This is to ensure that your body is meeting the nutritional requirements for the day.
Now that we have established that quality of food is key, let us look at Ramadan protein options to include on your plates this period.
Soybean is one complete plant protein that can be consumed during the Ramadan observance. Soybeans can be used to make tofu, soymilk and soy yoghurt. Soybean and veggie sauce and soybean salad are other simple recipes that one can follow to enjoy this awesome protein-rich food. Soybeans and its derivatives are great Ramadan protein options for you and your family.
Another excellent source of protein is eggs. This protein-rich food is a powerhouse packed with numerous nutrients such as calcium, iron and other vitamins that are beneficial to the human body. Fried eggs paired with energy dense foods such as bread can be eaten at Suhur.
Eggs can also be boiled and diced into a healthy-looking bowl of salad with vegetables of your choice. Moreover, eggs are filling, capable of keeping one energized. When thinking of Ramadan protein options to have on your plate, think eggs.
Examples of lentils include beans, pigeon peas, green pea and chickpea. Among these examples, the most popular one in our part of the world is beans. Beans, apart from being cooked as porridge, can be used to make local delicacies like akara (bean balls), moi moi (bean cake) and ekuru (white moi moi). Other dishes made from beans include ewa agoyin (mashed beans) and Gbegiri (bean soup), which is added to ewedu (jute) and paired with amala (yam flour). All these are great Ramadan protein options for meal time.
Vegetables and Fruits
Daily consumption of vegetables and fruits is essential as they help keep the immune system in a great shape. Vegetables also help lower cholesterol, maintain a healthy weight and lower blood pressure. Leafy greens such as spinach (efo riro), water leaf, amunututu, eggplant leaves, bitter leaves, ugu, afang, etc. should be on the list of Ramadan protein options to have this time and always. These vegetables can be made into soups served with boiled, grilled or steamed chicken, fish or meat. Leafy greens also aid free bowel movement because of their fibre content.
Fruits, on the other hand, should be served with all meals to increase the boost needed by the body. Fruits are best served whole and fresh. Cut them only when you are ready to eat. This will prevent volatile nutrients like vitamin C from escaping from the fruit and vegetable.
Non-fat yoghurt and Greek yoghurt are not only filling but also rich in protein. These delicious dairy products can be paired with granola, dried fruits, dates, walnuts and other protein-rich nuts like cashews.
Apart from consuming protein-rich foods and other nutritious foods, there are coping strategies that can help Muslims in Ramadan. When breaking the fast, rehydrate first and refrain from taking fluids that are high in fruit acids on an empty stomach so as not to erode the stomach walls. At iftar, keep away from fried and greasy foods as they take longer time to digest. Going to bed when digestion is incomplete is likely to cause a bloated stomach and discomfort. Generally, eat little at a time and gradually introduce other solid foods. As you spiritually observe this sacred month of Ramadan, remember to stay nourished and healthy.
Eneh Veronica Ejembi is a digital content professional and public relations executive.