Suhoor – the pre-dawn meal

Suhoor – the pre-dawn meal

Suhoor (سحور‎‎ suḥūr), which literally translates to ‘of the dawn’ or ‘pre-dawn meal’ is the meal that is eaten in the very early morning, yep, you guessed it, just before dawn or sunrise. During the month of Ramadan this meal replaces breakfast and even though there are some who give it a miss (like me, sometimes!), it is in fact highly recommended to wake up and at least have something small with a cup of water. Considering that suhoor is the only meal you can have until iftar (breaking of the fast time at sunset) it becomes especially important to avoid skipping. As part of this Ramadan blog series, I’ve asked Hiba Jebeile (Nutrition & Dietetics) to share with us her opinion on the benefits of suhoor, some meal tips to keep you well nourished throughout the day as well as handy recipe links. __________________________________________________________________________________________ In Ramadan, Suhoor really needs to be the breakfast of champions. While it does take a bit of extra effort to prepare meals and wake up that little bit earlier in the morning, there are many benefits to waking up for suhoor including: Providing you with the energy and nutrients for the day Keeping your metabolism going and helping to prevent Ramadan weight gain Removing the need for a second meal or late snack in the evening Modern diets tend to include processed breakfast foods such as cereals, breads or liquid drinks. Breakfast and in the case of Ramadan, suhoor, should always include a slow release carbohydrate, source of protein or dairy, plus fruits or vegetables. Here are our top picks for your suhoor this Ramadan: Something to...
RAMADAN – WEEK 1 Are you ready?

RAMADAN – WEEK 1 Are you ready?

Guess what folks, yep it’s that time of year again…Ramadan (2017 /1438 AH) is here. For those of you playing at home… Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar year where Muslims abstain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sunset. Sounds pretty tough and sure in other parts of the world where the daylight hours are longer and hotter, it may be. This year in Sweden, for example, daylight goes for 19.5 hours! In recent years, in Australia though, the fasting month has fallen on the shorter, winter days which means this year our fasting hours are approximately 11.5. So there should be no complaining from Down Under! Be that as it may, it’s really important to remember, fasting isn’t just about abstaining from food and drink. We often tend to forget the fast has a lot more to do with pressing the breaks on the ‘fast life’. Naturally, we all get caught up in the mundane rituals of everyday life. We are all so busy with family, work, studies, kids, schedules and so on. There’s always something we need to do, somewhere we need to be. The fast of Ramadan is a gentle reminder to think about what we are doing with our time and where we are heading. Ironically, we are ‘fasting’ but in natural fact the term ‘fast’, not only represents abstaining from certain things but more importantly marks a period of slowing down and reflection. Ramadan is also a time for breaking bad habits and setting goals in an attempt to increase such things as self-discipline, humility, patience & charity.  In saying that, what we call ‘iftar‘ or the breaking of the...
Sayadiah – Fish & Rice

Sayadiah – Fish & Rice

Sayadiah is a traditional rice and fish dish that is beautifully aromatic and quite common in all Lebanese households. Over the years I have tried making it a few different ways, sometimes using saffron and other times using baharat (Lebanese 7 spice). Most recently I asked the advice of my older sister Fadia and found the trick to getting that robust flavour was firstly the way you cook your onions (soft, golden and not browned) and the other being the homemade fish stock! So here is my version of her recipe. I added the use of the prawns which I think undeniably intensifies the flavours. Ingredients 1 – 1.5kg whole white fish (such as barramundi, filleted & bones reserved) 500g green prawns 2 cups long grain rice 4 tbsp cup olive oil 1 brown onion, roughly chopped 2 brown onions, diced finely 1 teaspoon vegetable stock powder 2 bay leaves 1 garlic clove 2 pieces lemon peel 1 coriander root 2 tsp salt 5 whole cloves 5 cups water 1/2 tsp white pepper 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp cumin 1/2 cup pine nuts 1/2 cup slivered almonds Method Fillet the fish, leaving bones (or most fish mongers will do this for you). Cut the bones to fit into your stock pot. Discard gills. Cut fish fillets into large chunks and refrigerate until needed. Remove heads and shells off prawns. Add shells and heads to stock pot and refrigerate prawn meat until needed. To the stock pot add one onion (roughly chopped), stock powder, bay leaves, garlic, lemon peel, whole cloves, coriander root and 1 teaspoon salt. Add 5 cups of water to the pot & bring to...
A (better late than never) #SpreadHummusNotHate Update

A (better late than never) #SpreadHummusNotHate Update

This post is long overdue! I know! I’ve been wanting to post an update for some time now since starting the #spreadhummusnothate campaign back in September 2016 (you can read full post here) but just haven’t had a chance to sit down and have a real good think about and reflect on what has taken place since. The campaign itself received a lot of traction and overall it was positively received by not just all of you, my followers, but the general public too. I was pleasantly surprised to see a write up by my local paper The St George & Sutherland Shire Leader, followed by a story via SBS and a number of other online news outlets. I wasn’t expecting this kind of coverage to be honest. In fact, I wasn’t too sure what to expect. What I did know was I didn’t want this to be a political or religious movement. What I was hoping though was to connect people, not online, but in real world situations. We all see many things go viral online and forgotten after a day or two. So considering the constant negative rhetoric that seemed to be developing especially in the social media sphere, I really didn’t feel that a solely online campaign would be beneficial in our day to day lives. This needed to go offline. I wanted to encourage real human interaction between people from different walks of life. To build bridges, rather than burn them. To drown out some of that negative clatter. I wanted an acknowledgement, respect & celebration of our differences. I wanted people to admire the beauty of our diverse land (with respect for it’s...
Let’s talk about that paste – that Hummus

Let’s talk about that paste – that Hummus

So let’s talk about ‘that paste’, that Hummus. Everyone loves it. Don’t they? Well, slight exaggeration, maybe not everyone (my daughter, as example number one!), but most people I would say. Many regions around the world try and claim hummus as their own but the fact of the matter is hummus is the Arabic word for chickpeas, and although it is now globally synonymous with the dip or spread, the earliest recipe for hummus takes it right back to Ancient Egypt. For the Lebanese, hummus has been a regular and genuine part of their kitchen for generations. There isn’t a household that doesn’t embrace it. In fact I’d be suspicious of any Lebanese restaurant that didn’t serve it! You can buy hummus pretty much everywhere now, from corner shops to large chain supermarkets. But let’s be real. That store bought stuff (and I’ve tasted a few) are nothing but sly impostors, disguised and presented as the authentic thing. Nowadays when I see it in the dips section of my local supermarket I can’t help but remember the GoRemy ‘All about that paste’ parody. “You said you get your hummus down at the corner shop. You know that dish ain’t real habibi. Make it stop!” It’s really funny. I posted a snippet from it on my Instagram recently. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here ‘All about that paste’. On a serious note, I’m sure we’ve all bought hummus from the supermarket because it is just so convenient. There are a couple of particular brands that I don’t mind the taste of when I’m really desperate (ask me if...
Lebanese Cucumber & Yoghurt Salad 

Lebanese Cucumber & Yoghurt Salad 

Although this recipe may sound like a dip, it’s actually not. Growing up, my Mum made this (Kh’yar wa Laban, as it’s known in Arabic) often and we loved eating it on its own like you would a salad. It was perfect on those summer days when a warm meal just couldn’t be tolerated! You can of course serve it as a side with other dishes or as a condiment. It’s great with a rice or even as part of a BBQ spread. Here’s the very simple recipe for you! What you’ll need: 2 cucumbers 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves 2 cloves garlic pinch of salt 1kg tub yoghurt (I prefer Greek) 1/4 cup water Method: Crush garlic cloves with a pinch of salt. Slice cucumbers in half, lengthways. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard seeds. Finely dice cucumbers into 1/2 cm cubes. Chop mint leaves. Add yoghurt to a medium sized bowl. To the yoghurt, add the garlic, salt, diced cucumber, mint & water. Mix until well combined. Serve with rice or meat. Or just enjoy it on its own!  ...
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