5 Ramadan Foods to eat and avoid during the Festival

  • March 16, 2024
Reading Time: 12 minutes

During the holy month of Ramadan, observing fast from dawn to sunset is a significant practice for Muslims worldwide. It’s essential to maintain physical well-being while fulfilling spiritual commitments. Here are some guidelines on what to eat and avoid during this sacred time:

The fasting during Ramadan holds profound spiritual and cultural significance for Muslims. Let me take you through the Ramadan Festival and its food practices.

Obedience and Submission:

  1. Fasting is an act of devotion to the commandments of Allah. Muslims are given specific instructions by the Quran to fast throughout this holy month:  “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you, that you may become righteous” (Quran, 2:183).
  2. Muslims express their submission to Allah’s will by sacrificing food, drink, and the other necessities of life.

Spiritual Cleansing and Reflection:

  1. It is a time for spiritual purification throughout Ramadan. Muslims may cleanse their hearts and minds via fasting and ask for pardon for past offenses.
  2. It encourages reading the Quran, more prayer, and insight. Muslims make an effort to deepen their bond with Allah.

Empathy and Compassion:

  1. Empathy and compassion are nurtured by fasting. Muslims are periodically reminded of the challenges experienced by the less fortunate when they experience hunger and thirst.
  2. It encourages tenderness, kindness, and giving back (known as Zakat).

Community Bonding:

  1. A meal known as Iftar, which breaks the fast, unites communities and families. During Ramadan, social connections are reinforced via meal sharing and prayer.
  2. To promote peace and tranquility, Muslims often extend invitations to friends, neighbors, and visitors to join them for Iftar.

Gratitude and Contentment:

  1. Fasting teaches gratitude for the blessings of life—food, water, health, and family.
  2. It reminds Muslims to appreciate what they have and be content with Allah’s provisions.

Seeking Forgiveness and Blessings:

  1. Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Decree) falls within the last ten days of Ramadan. It is believed to be the night when the Quran was revealed.
  2. On this auspicious night, Muslims fast and pray, seeking blessings and forgiveness.

Physical Discipline and Self-Control:

  1. Fasting requires self-discipline. Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and other desires from dawn (Suhoor) until sunset (Iftar).
  2. This discipline extends beyond only consuming; it also involves restriction from bad conduct, negative thoughts, and bitterness.

Closeness to Allah:

  1. Ramadan is a time of heightened spirituality. Muslims engage in extra prayers (Taraweeh) at night.
  2. The fast creates a sense of closeness to Allah, as believers seek His mercy and guidance.

Fasting during Ramadan is not merely abstaining from food; it is a holistic practice that nourishes the soul, strengthens faith, and fosters compassion. 🌙🤲

Ramadan Festival Prayer

Suhoor (Pre-Dawn Meal):

The term “Suhoor” holds historical and cultural significance in the context of Ramadan, the sacred month observed by Muslims. Let’s delve into its background:

Suhoor - Ramadan Festival


Etymology and Meaning:

  • The word “Suhoor” (also spelled as Sahur or Sehri) originates from Arabic, specifically from the root word “seher”, which translates to “the last part of the night”.
  • Suhoor refers to the pre-dawn meal consumed by Muslims before they begin their daily fast during Ramadan.

Purpose and Importance:

Suhoor serves several essential purposes:

  • Preparation for Fasting: It helps prepare the body for a day of fasting by providing necessary nutrients and energy.
  • Avoiding Crankiness and Weakness: Consuming Suhoor allows fasting individuals to avoid irritability and weakness caused by fasting.
  • Spiritual Significance: By following the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who emphasized the blessings of Suhoor, Muslims honor their faith and seek spiritual benefits.

Timing and Rituals:

Suhoor is eaten before the Fajr (dawn) prayer.

  • It corresponds to Iftar, the evening meal during Ramadan, effectively replacing the traditional three meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
  • In some places, dinner is also consumed after Iftar, later during the night.

Musaharati: The Dawn Caller:

The musaharati plays a vital role during Ramadan.

  • Historically, Bilal ibn Rabah was the first musaharati in Islamic history. He roamed the streets at night, waking people up for Suhoor and dawn prayer.
  • Musaharatis possess physical fitness, a loud voice, and the ability to read poems. They supplicate throughout the night to wake sleepers.
  • Although the tradition persists in various countries, factors like technology (alarm clocks) and urbanization have led to its gradual disappearance.

Suhoor represents a blend of tradition, spirituality, and practicality—a nourishing meal before the day’s fasting begins. 🌙🍽️

Suhoor is crucial for maintaining energy levels throughout the day. Opt for a well-balanced meal that includes the following:

Complex Carbohydrates:

Oats, whole grains, and legumes provide sustained energy release.

Whole grains, including oats, play a crucial role in providing sustained energy during fasting. Let’s explore the elements involved:

  • Whole grains are rich in complex carbohydrates. Unlike simple sugars, complex carbs break down gradually, releasing energy over an extended period.
  • Oats, for instance, contain beta-glucans, a type of soluble fiber that slows digestion and stabilizes blood sugar levels.

Fiber Content:

  • Whole grains are abundant in dietary fiber. This fiber contributes to feelings of fullness and helps regulate blood sugar.
  • During fasting, fiber ensures a gradual release of energy, preventing sudden spikes and crashes.

B Vitamins:

  • Whole grains are a natural source of B vitamins (such as B1, B2, B3, B6, and folate).
  • These vitamins are essential for energy metabolism. They assist in converting carbohydrates into usable energy within our cells.


  • Magnesium and iron are present in whole grains.
  • Magnesium contributes to reducing tiredness and fatigue, while iron supports energy release.

Slow Digestion:

  • The fiber, protein, and healthy fats in whole grains slow down digestion.
  • This gradual breakdown ensures a steady supply of energy throughout the fasting period.

Metabolism Boost:

  • Whole grains can boost metabolism due to their B vitamins and fiber content.
  • B vitamins play a role in energy production, while fiber supports overall metabolic processes.


  • Whole grains provide micronutrients like zinc, manganese, and chromium.
  • These micronutrients are involved in various enzymatic reactions related to energy production.

High-Fiber Foods: Fruits and vegetables aid digestion.

  1. Artichokes – Artichokes are flavorful vegetables harvested from the artichoke plant (Cynara cardunculus). They originated in the Mediterranean and North Africa and are now cultivated primarily in California. Nutrient-rich: High in vitamins and minerals (potassium, vitamin C, and fiber). Believed to help lower LDL cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and manage blood sugar levels. Artichokes are used in dips, sauces, salads, soups, and more.

How To Prepare Artichokes?

  • Cut off the tips of all the outside green leaves with kitchen shears. There’s no other reason to handle them this way than to avoid getting pricked. They might be sharp.
  • With a sharp knife, trim about 1 inch from the top of the raw artichokes.
  • There are two ways to prepare artichokes. When steamed baskets are placed in a pan with a few inches of water in the bottom, they perform effectively. You may cook the artichokes in a saucepan if you don’t have a steamer basket to use.
  • One Bay leaf and four garlic cloves should be added to a big pot that has been filled with three to four inches of water. The artichokes won’t be completely submerged, but that’s okay. Now and then I also add a few slices of lemon.
  • Boil the water in the pot with the lid on. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue cooking with the lid on for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the artichoke leaves are easily removed.

What To Eat With Artichokes?

A handful of suggestions about what to eat with artichokes:

  1. Dipping sauces – Freshly cooked artichokes are typically served alongside a dipping sauce such as melted butter, mayonnaise, olive oil, or aioli.
  2. Salad – Chop up some hearts and add them to your next salad for extra texture and flavor.
  3. Vegetables – The delicious hearts pair well with asparagus, green beans tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and any other veggies you have on hand.
  4. Pasta – Artichoke hearts can be such a delicious addition to any type of pasta dish, such as spaghetti, linguine, or even lasagna.
  5. Pizza – Top your next pizza with chopped artichoke hearts for the perfect delicious dinner!
  6. Meat or fish – When steamed and served as a side dish, they accompany any main meat or fish protein perfectly.

Here are some great alternatives for this nutritious vegetable if you can’t eat fresh artichokes or cannot find them at the grocery store:

  1. BAMBOO SHOOTS – Bamboo shoots are a great alternative to artichokes when you are looking to replicate that relaxing, nutty flavor. Before adding them to any meal that requires artichokes, grill or sauté them.
  2. MUSHROOMS – In recipes, mushrooms work well as a meaty substitute for artichoke hearts because of their comparable texture.
  3. HEARTS OF PALM – A heart of palm also has a similar texture as well as a mild flavor that can simulate that of fresh artichoke hearts.
  4. BROCCOLI STEMS – Broccoli has a very different flavor from artichokes, which have a more nutty taste. When prepared, the stems have a texture equal to that of hearts, which makes them an ideal alternative for pasta or a pizza topping.
  5. CABBAGE – Any variety of cabbage such as napa cabbage can act as a replacement for this veggie once it has been cooked. It has a slightly softer texture and a similar mild taste.
  6. BELL PEPPERS – Cooked red peppers or green bell peppers have a mildly sweet flavor and comparable texture, making them one of the most delicious substitutes for a variety of dishes that use this ingredient.
  7. SQUASH – Use different varieties of squash as an alternative to artichoke hearts. Zucchini, chayote squash, and butternut squash are great options and all have a slightly sweet flavor and similar taste.
  1. Kale
Kale Leaves

This leafy green vegetable falls to the brassica family, which also contains cauliflower and broccoli. It has lots of vitamins and fiber, just like any decent brassica. It can be eaten raw or cooked.

How To Prepare Kale?

To use Raw

After cleaning, pat dry, and tear kale leaves into little pieces. The stems can be saved for later use or burned. Alternatively, you can finely chop or shred the raw leaves, stems included. You’ll have a lot of chewing to do if you leave the stems in. Before dressing and serving raw, I like to dip the leaves in a little salt and lemon juice and let them soften for about thirty minutes.

To Cook

Rinse with cold water, but do not let the skin dry. Just like with raw kale, you can slice or rip the leaves depending on whether the stems are present. Slicing is the quickest method, but I prefer to shred the leaves and thinly slice the stems when I have the time. To cook, I first sauté the stems for approximately ten minutes, or until they are tender, in a covered skillet with a small bit of oil and a few tablespoons of water. Lastly, I add the leaves and boil until they are soft and wilted, perhaps five more minutes. Regardless, add a lot of salt since it lessens the bitter taste of the kale.

Here are some great alternatives for this nutritious vegetable if you can’t eat fresh Kale leaves or cannot find them at the grocery store:

  1. English Spinach – In contrast to kale, English spinach, frequently referred to as spinach, has a more verdant, “spinachy” flavor. Also, the leaves are far more delicate and sensitive. However, spinach, in particular defrosted frozen spinach, makes a fine substitute for kale if you simply want to add some cooked greens to an already existing recipe.
  2. Baby Spinach Leaves – Baby spinach is your best alternative if your recipe asks for raw kale or baby kale leaves. Keep in mind that baby spinach is more sensitive, so you probably won’t need to dress it as much or massage it.
  3. Chinese Broccoli – Chinese broccoli tastes similar to kale while having smaller leaves and much thicker stems. Stems are quite thick, hence they aren’t used for raw kale meals.
  4. Turnip / Kohlrabi Tops – Slightly different in flavor to kale, these green tops of fellow members of the brassica family can be used instead of kale. If the leaves are young and tender they can be used raw like kale leaves.
  1. Sweet Potato
Sweet Potato

During Ramadan, incorporating sweet potatoes into your meals can provide essential nutrients and sustained energy.

Here are some ways to enjoy sweet potatoes during this holy month:

Baked Sweet Potatoes:

  • Baking sweet potatoes is simple and nutritious.
  • Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes, then prick them with a fork.
  • Bake them in the oven at around 375°F (190°C) for about 45-60 minutes until tender.
  • Serve them as a side dish or as part of your Suhoor or Iftar meal.

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes:

  • Bake sweet potatoes as mentioned above.
  • Slice them open and create a pocket.
  • Stuff them with black beans, salsa, and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
  • The combination of flavors is irresistible.

Sweet Potato Curry:

  • Prepare a flavorful sweet potato curry with Indian spices.
  • Sauté onions, garlic, and ginger in oil.
  • Add diced sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and spices (such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, and chili powder).
  • Simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  • Serve with rice or whole-grain bread.

Sweet Potato Chaat:

  • Chaat is a popular Indian street food.
  • Boil or roast sweet potatoes and cut them into cubes.
  • Toss them with chaat masala, lemon juice, chopped cilantro, and pomegranate seeds.
  • Enjoy this tangy and spicy snack.

Remember to include sweet potatoes in your meals mindfully, ensuring a balance of nutrients and hydration during non-fasting hours. 🌙🍠

  1. Beets:
Beets Hummus - Ramadan Festival

Here are some ways to enjoy beets during this holy month:

Beet Salad :

  • Prepare a refreshing beet salad with boiled or roasted beets.
  • Slice or dice the beets and mix them with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and fresh herbs.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.
  • Serve it as a side dish for Iftar.

Beetroot Hummus:

  • Blend cooked beets with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.
  • Enjoy it as a dip with whole-grain pita bread or vegetable sticks.
  • Beetroot Soup:
  • Make a hearty beetroot soup by simmering beets with vegetable broth, onions, and herbs.
  • Garnish with yogurt or fresh herbs.

Beetroot Smoothie:

  • Blend cooked beets with yogurt, banana, and a touch of honey.
  • It’s a nutritious and filling drink for Suhoor.
  1. Beet Greens:

Green beets, also known as beet greens, are the leafy tops of the beetroot plant. These vibrant green leaves are often overlooked, but they offer a wealth of benefits, especially during Ramadan:

  1. Turnip Greens

Turnip greens, also known as beet greens, are the leafy tops of the beetroot plant. These vibrant green leaves are often overlooked, but they offer a wealth of benefits, especially during Ramadan:

Incorporating these high-fiber vegetables into your diet supports overall health and digestion. 🌿🥦🥕

  1. Proteins: Eggs, cheese, yogurt, and lean meats support muscle maintenance.
  2. Hydrating Foods: Cucumbers, watermelon, and other water-rich fruits and vegetables help minimize thirst during the day

Iftar (Breaking the Fast):

Iftar begins with eating dates and drinking water, following the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad.

Iftaar - Ramadan Food

Focus on balanced nutrition with the following components:

Nutritious Foods to Eat During Ramadan:

  1. Dates: Traditional for breaking the fast, dates provide natural sugars and energy.
  2. Water: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water during non-fasting hours.
  3. Fruits and Vegetables: Rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  4. Whole Grains: Opt for brown rice, whole wheat bread, and oats.
  5. Lean Proteins: Chicken, fish, lentils, and beans.
  6. Dairy: Yogurt and low-fat milk.
  7. Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and chia seeds.
  8. Herbs and Spices: Use them to flavor your meals.
  9. Hydrating Vegetables: Cucumbers, lettuce, and other water-rich veggies.
  10. Herbal Teas: Chamomile, mint, or ginger teas can be soothing and hydrating12.

Foods to Avoid During Ramadan:

  1. Caffeinated Beverages: Coffee, tea, and sodas can increase thirst and dehydration1.
  2. Highly Salty Foods: Processed foods, pickles, and snacks high in sodium1.
  3. Rich Foods: Herring, sardines, fish, turkey cheese, and pastrami can raise blood pressure and increase thirst3.
  4. Fried Foods and Processed Snacks: These are often high in unhealthy fats, sodium, and preservatives, leading to discomfort during fasting hours4.

Physical Activity and Exercise During Ramadan

Keeping up a regular exercise regimen during Ramadan is beneficial to general health and can assist with regulating energy levels and body weight. To accommodate your fasting schedule, workout timing, and intensity should be modified. The topic of “Ramadan Food: When And What To Eat” in this part addresses recommendations for safe and sensible physical activity throughout the fasting month. It offers guidance on how to coordinate your exercise regimen with your dietary and hydration practices—which are emphasized in our thorough guide on eating during Ramadan—to maintain a balanced approach to health maintenance and to maximize the advantages of your spiritual and physical journey.

Best Times for Physical Activity:

  • After Iftar: Walking after dinner enables you to stay fuelled and hydrated. Since you may drink more water and have more energy after consuming food, it’s an excellent time for more physical activity.
  • Before Suhoor: One may take part in mild to moderate physical activity, such as stretching or walking, before the pre-dawn meal. After exercising, you may hydrate right away because it’s cooler.

Meal Planning and Prep Tips

Advance Meal Preparation: Meal prep in advance will help you save time and decrease the amount of decision-making you have to do when fasting. In order to make sure you always have wholesome options available, think about cooking and freezing meals for Iftar and quick, nourishing options for Suhoor.

Balanced Diet: Aim to cover as many nutritional bases you can with your meal plan by using a range of foods. To guarantee a balanced nutrient intake, include sources of lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, and an abundance of fruits and vegetables.

Hydration: Although not fasting, make sure you drink enough water. To help sustain fluid balance, incorporate hydrating foods like fruits, vegetables, and soups in your meals in along with drinking water.

Scheduling: Determine the best times for your meals based on prayer times and your schedule. Planning your meals around these times can help you maintain a consistent eating pattern throughout Ramadan.

Trust the sanctity of meal timings and thoughtful food choices to act as your compass throughout this Ramadan, leading you through a month of sincere prayer and spiritual development. May the teachings of self-control, awareness, and well-being continue past this holy month, becoming ingrained in your everyday routine and shedding light on the way to a contented, well-balanced life. 🌙🤲

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