Ramadan is a holy month observed by Muslims worldwide. If you aren’t familiar with it, here is some insight into the special celebration.
The month lasts 29–30 days based on the sightings of the crescent moon. Fasting is obligatory for all those who are able (the sick, elderly, and children may refrain). After learning or revisiting the basics of Ramadan, check out healthy food swaps for Ramadan for more ideas.
Fasting for Ramadan
The fast lasts from dawn until sunset, and during this time Muslims refrain from consuming food and drinking liquids. Followers of Islam believe that fasting teaches patience, modesty, and spirituality. Food and drinks are served daily, before dawn and after sunset, referred to as suhoor and iftar, respectively. The end of Ramadan is called Id al Fitr and is a day of feasting and celebration.
Ramadan is a special time when families come together and working hours are often shortened. It is a great opportunity to bond over the iftar meal and involve the whole family, especially the children, in helping to prepare it!
What do the Ramadan meals contain?
Both the suhoor and iftar meals should be hearty and healthy. They are usually comprised of bread, cheese, fresh fruits, vegetables, halal meats, and a sweet dessert. Ideally, with good meal planning there will be plenty of nutrients and fiber through healthy whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans. Choosing balanced meals with the key components above and lean protein will help provide longer lasting energy for the full day of fasting. When Ramadan falls on a hot month like this year, special attention should be given to hydrating foods and less salt to help with thirst and hydration. Here are two easy and fun recipes that children can help to prepare.
This can be served during suhoor or the pre-dawn meal.
Makes about a dozen kabobs
Ingredients: (feel free to swap out for local and seasonal fruits – that is always best!)
- 1 cup grapes
- 1 cup watermelon, cut into cubes
- 1 cup honeydew melon, cut into cubes
- 1 cup cantaloupe, cut into cubes
- 1 cup strawberries
- 1 cup mango, cut into cubes
- kabob sticks
- Make sure all fruit is cleaned and washed.
- Cut the melons and mango into cubes and leave the other fruits whole.
- Have the kids create colorful kabobs with a variety of fruits on each one.
- Keep in the refrigerator until ready to eat. This is great to serve with a yogurt dip!
Iftar, the breaking of the fast in the evening, always begins with a couple of sweet dates, then a glass of water. This is often followed by a bowl of soup, a salad, and then the main course. Aiming to keep the courses balanced and light can be part of practicing a healthy iftar.
Finger Food: Delicious Date Nut Energy Balls
Here is a fun snack that kids can eat at the beginning of iftar or even for dessert.
Makes about 20 energy balls
- 1 ½ cup almonds, or other nut/seed of choice
- 3/4 cup shredded coconut
- 1 ½ cup soft Medjool dates, pitted
- 5 prunes, pitted
- 2 tablespoons vegetable or coconut oil OR almond /peanut butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a food processor, process the almonds and coconut until well blended.
- Add in the pitted dates, prunes, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt, and process again until the ingredients are well mixed.
- Take large spoonfuls of the batter and form it into balls with your hands (kids love this part!).
- Roll in extra coconut flakes or in cacao powder, then freeze for about an hour.
Getting kids involved in iftar and suhoor makes them more enjoyable and special for the whole family. Let us know if you try these yummy and fun recipes!