Sehri day 1 and day 2

Asalam alaykum

Alhamdulilah the first fast has been and gone.

I have to admit I found it really difficult to wake up the first morning. The fact that I tried to eat porridge with a fork kind of says it all really!

In true Ramadan Dinners style allow me to share this Ramadan’s first sehri with you. I had: 2 x mini sehri omelette cups made with pepper and feta cheese ( 2 mini cups amounts to 1 egg), porridge cooked and cooled (I am very slow at eating sehri and find it easier to grab porridge from the fridge), fruit salad made with flat white peaches, kiwis, blackberries and chopped dates, Greek yoghurt and of course water. I worry that we won’t drink enough so gave us each our own jug of water to drink. It is easier to see how much a person has drunk. You could easily do this with litre bottles of water.

This morning saw me have pretty much the same as yesterday. The only difference being I really struggled to drink water. I only drank half the amount and hope I won’t be too thirsty by this evening.

The mini omelettes are fantastic as they contain protein and water containing vegetables, better still no oil/fat is used to cook them at all. One egg creates two mini omelettes. This recipe easily sizes up and is easily useable if you are alone. Just mix the eggs in a bowl, throw in some juicy looking vegetables, a little cheese, some herbs, be sure to omit salt as this will dehydrate you and make you thirsty.
6 Omelettes
3 eggs
1/2 pepper chopped
Feta cheese to taste
First mix the eggs in a bowl. Then place individual silicone muffins moulds (easier to take the omelette out) into a metal muffin tray (these hold the shape). To distribute the vegetables evenly I place them directly into the moulds and then put the mixed eggs on top. Bake until cooked. Normally it takes about 7 – 10 minutes in a 250 degree oven but you could easily put them in while something else is cooking. Once cooked take them out of the mould and when cool store them in the fridge.

Inshallah I pray our fasts will be accepted.

Breakfast Bars

A big issue among coeliacs is breakfast. Breakfast obviously sets you up for the day. There is never a time when this is more in important than in Ramadan. After all Sehri/Suhoor needs to set you up for something like 17 hours if you live in the UK this year. Compare that to a winter fast where the day was barely 10 hours!!

Finding food which fills you up for a long time is a major issue if you are coeliac. Foods which contain whole grain, slow releasing carbohydrates are excellent like wheat, rye, oats and barely…its just that as a coeliac we cannot eat them…not even a grain! Although my body can tolerate pure oats (oats which have not been milled with gluten containing ingredients) I still can’t eat them in large quantities and have to be careful so as such am constantly on the hunt for something which will fill me up and which is obviously gluten free.

Alhumdulilah I discovered that corn meal was really filling when I made mealie pap a few weeks ago and since then I have been experimenting to find other ways of eating it.

These breakfast bars are great, they are very filling. The corn meal is wholegrain which is fantastic for coeliacs and non coeliacs alike, it is also a complex carbohydrate which stays in the body for longer. The sunflower seeds contain magnesium which is important for healthy bones, a must for coeliacs.

When making these bars, I wanted to make something which wasn’t sweet. I appreciate the fact that everyone has different sugar tolerances and so suggest that if you have a sweeter tooth add some more sugar at the start. The sour cherries balance out the sweetness of the dates, while the sunflower seeds add texture. Inshallah this will help fill you up for the long days ahead.

Ramadan Kareem

50g pitted dates chopped in to quarters
25g sour cherries (sweetened dried sour cherries)
25g sunflower seeds
25g sugar (add more to suit your taste)
1 cup of fine corn meal

1. In a pan place ½ a cup of water (this must be the same size cup as you use to measure the corn meal) with the pitted chopped dates
2. Place the pan on a low heat until the dates are soft and the water has taken on the colour of the dates.
3. Pour the sugar into the date water and set aside.
4. Measure out 1 cup of fine corn meal and mix it with ½ of hot water to form a crumb texture.
5. Set aside a ¼ of the corn crumbs
6. In the remaining ¾ corn mix slowly a little water so that it sticks together but is still stiff
7. Add the stiff corn mix to the dates and water and keep on a low heat
stirring all the time, use either a silicone spatula or a wooden spoon.
8. When a ball forms add the remaining corn crumbs and stir
9. Add the sour cherries and sunflower seeds
10. Line a tin/oven proof dish with baking paper (the tin should be
approximately the size of a normal paperback book) and pack the mixture in. Pack it in quite well so that there are no hidden air bubbles.
11. Place in a 200 degree oven on the bottom shelf for 15 mins.
12. After 15 remove from the oven allow to cool, chop into approximately 6 logs.
13. Place the logs on a baking sheet and bake again for a further 20 mins.

Mini Sehri Omelette Cups

When I was little it was quite the norm to have iftari late at night, it was high summer, and quite often those expected guests would turn into unexpected guests for sehri. Obviously there was nothing unexpected about them. Nonetheless I do have memories of my poor mother having to make fresh parathas and fry eggs very early in the morning. Now a days I just can’t stomach the thought of having to either for sehri, not to mention the head ache of handling gluten free dough!

Eggs have been in the press a lot recently. I guess more because of their change of image from cholesterol laden to near super food. Just look at what eggs contain:
1 egg contains 6 grams of high quality protein
9 essential amino acids
5 grams of fat and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat,
The only food to contain naturally occurring vitamin D
(very important for ladies who fully cover),
Contains vitamin B12, which helps keep both hair and nails healthy.

I was sold. It was simple, eggs had to feature at sehri, but how? Frying just isn’t attractive, I don’t have the co-ordination or my full senses at sehri to boil an egg! So what???

I had come across mini omelettes before on a couple of blogs including this one , so I thought I would have a go too.

I decided to fill them with vegetables as vegetables are obviously low in fat and high in water content – essential for the summer fasts! Work the veggie combinations as you please. If you have a large family these are easy to prepare in advance or if like me no one else eats omelettes these are fantastic as they are quick and easy to make. They are easy to store in the fridge for sehri. If of course you have the unexpected guest these are a must! Prepare and bake them the night before and guests won’t be able to resist while you can relax knowing it took ever so little effort.

If you’ve ever been the unexpected guest for sehri no doubt, you have tried to claim that all you eat is bare the minimum: coffee and a biscuit? I don’t think so! If your host provides you with these please absolve yourself of any guilt and feel free to tuck in!

Finally I have omitted the use of any spices and salt simply because it is going to be hot and eating spicy/salty food can make you thirstier. Inshallah don’t forget to drink lots of water at sehri

Ingredients – makes 6 individual omelettes
2 shallots
50g green pepper
50g mange tout
25g chopped cheddar
50g goats cheese
3 eggs

1. Place the vegetables in a bowl
2. Break in the eggs and whisk
3. crumble in the cheeses and incorporate
4. In a metal muffin tray line the holes with 6 silicone muffin/cup cake cases
5. Pour the egg mix into the silicone muffin/cup cake cases
6. Bake in a 200 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until the egg has set.

Strawberry bread

Neither 100% cake nor 100% a bread ‘strawberry bread’ sits half way between the two. The smell of cooking strawberries and vanilla wafts through the kitchen and leaves you clambering at the oven door waiting for it to emerge. Based on a soda bread this is an easy to make method, the sweetness of the strawberries and the edge of the soda bread create a lovely balance. The melon seeds add a needed crunch and most importantly oats keep you filled up for longer.

150g pure oats
150g gf doves farm flour
50g live yoghurt
25g isapghol seeds dehusked
75g peeled melon seeds
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 egg
25g butter or margarine
4 tablespoons of milk
1 punnet of strawberries

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

First of all toast the peeled melon seeds in a heavy based frying pan until they begin to pop and are golden in colour.

Place all the ingredients with the exception of the strawberries and the milk, in a bowl and mix together. Then pour in the milk and leave to stand for a couple of minutes. The oats will soak up the milk quite quickly.

Then wash the strawberries, trimming their leaves, chop in halves (if small) or quarters (if large) then fold into the mix trying not to squash them but making sure to evenly distribute them.

Using a silicone baking sheet to cover a metal sheet pan and sprinkle with a little flour. Then place the toasted melon seeds on top of the flour. Place the mix on top of the melon seeds. You can lift the silicone baking sheet to help shape the bread and make it look tidy but it should be stiff enough to hold a position.

Bake for approximately 1 hour. It will be ready when the bread is golden, a crust has formed and the strawberries are oozing their juices.

Cool before serving with or without butter.

Its all about breakfast

This year things are obviously going to get a whole lot harder for a whole generation of people living in the UK. Gone are the days of the 15:58 magrib (sunset) instead magrib will be at approximately 20:49 and with sehri (breakfast) being at some thing like 2 or 3 am it is going to be tough! Breakfast is supposed to be the meal that sets you up for the day and frankly, as a coeliac, even on a non fasting day I find it hard one. My ideal sehri would one that was a) filling for the whole day b) nutritious c) require little thought at 4am and d) have variety (I get so bored eating the same food).

Last year I was lucky enough to have an appointment with my hospital Coeliac Dietician during Ramadan who suggested oats were my way forward, as they are whole grain and take longer to break down in the body (for coeliacs oats need to be pure oats ie they are not contaminated during the milling process so not regular shop ones). I do however get very bored of eating the same thing again and again and so I experimented a little with oats in muffins (now they were good) and since then I have become more confident of using oats in things which aren’t porridge.

So this year I propose oats for sehri. I’m not sure what I will be doing with mine just yet. But a simple search on porridge opens up a whole new world. There are so many topping ideas from sweet eg dark chocolate and banana to the savoury hard boiled eggs or fried fish and vegetables!

So for the moment I leave you with this thought: Oats + liquid = endless possibilities

Basin Bread

I frequently suffer from bouts of very low iron so am constantly thinking about high iron meals. One of my favourites is basin bread with sardines. It’s a meal which is quick and easy to make.

Chick peas are a whole grain (friendly for coeliacs and diabetics) which means that it releases energy slowly making it ideal for sehri (minus the salt and chilli). Iron wise they are very high in iron for a non heme (meat) source of iron 7mg per 100mg!

Basin Bread

8oz of basin / ground chick pea flour
Ground spices ½ a teaspoon of each: garlic, ginger, coriander, garam masala, cumin, chilli, salt
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 sliced onion
Fresh sliced green chilli to taste ( I used 1)
Fresh coriander leaves (optional)
Water to mix

Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl and mix in the water to make a batter slightly thinner than a pancake batter.
Mix in the sliced onion, chilli and coriander if using it.
Leave in the fridge for 30 mins to rest.
Heat up a small frying pan
Spray ‘spray oil’ in to a frying pan and then pour in the batter. Cook on one side before turning over to cook the other.
You can either cook the entire batch in one go or you can leave the batter in the fridge for up to a week and cook as you need them. If you do this, remember the batter will get spicier as time goes on.

I served mine with tinned sardines with a little squeezed lemon juice (vitamin C helps non-heme iron absorb into the body) with a little sliced spring onion.

Sehri Bento

Gluten free Sehri
Chick peas cooked into left over shorba
½ a muffin

Gluten Sehri
Bagel with cheese
½ muffin

This morning saw us slightly more organised in the sense that we actually knew what we would have before we went to bed. However I think it is more the holiday attitude of staying at my mums house for the weekend that some how neither of us feel it is imperative to have our bentos packed before sehri despite the fact that I brought them!

Although I have pictured a whole muffin each, when it came to eating it neither of us felt able to eat a whole one so instead we shared.

Pear and Berry Sehri Muffins

My mum has a pear tree in her garden. Every year without fail we are always left with a glut of pears, wondering what to do with them. After all there are only so may pears you can eat. With a windfall of pears after the recent rain, it seemed about time to start using those that had already fallen.

125g Sourghum flour
125g Doves farm gluten free flour
2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
50g caster sugar
2 teaspoons of honey
100ml of rapeseed oil
250ml of summer fruit filling shop bought
2 eggs
4 small pears

18 blueberries or any fresh berry that is an ingredient of the summer fruit filling
50g of pure oats (suitable for coeliacs or gf non oat porridge)

1.If the pears are hard (mine were) they may need some preparation. Wash and chop the pears into quarters and then slices. Place the hard pears into a shallow frying pan cover with water and put onto a high heat, then allow to simmer gently. Once the water has evaporated and the pears are tender then add in a little more water you may need to adjust this depending on if the pears are still hard) to deglaze the pan. For hard pears add 20g of sugar at this stage and once the pears are covered seem tender and shiny take off the heat.

2.If you have fresh soft pears, wash and slice the pears, heat up gently in a frying to bring out their own sugars.

3.Heat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade

4.Line 6 holed muffin tin with muffin cases sprayed with spray oil

5.Mix the ingredients, fold quickly with a metal spoon and be careful not to over mix otherwise the muffins become hard

6.Divide the mix

7.Place the toppings on to the muffins: a sprinkle of pure oats or non oat gf porridge. Push in the berries into the muffins so that they sit firmly

8.Bake for 20 mins.

9. Store in an airtight container for a couple of days alternatively freeze.

Sehri = breakfast = actually means start fast

Twice today I was asked about the act of sehri. One question was from my (non muslim) mother in law who when asking what time the fast started went on to very confidently point out that,“ …you wouldn’t really get up at 3am and eat though…” needless to say she was very shocked to hear that YES we do get up and actually have a breakfast! Yes, I am sure we have had this very same conversation with her before!

It is very important for us to remember that time and time again, the prophet (pbuh) taught us, through his actions, to eat sehri. Syeduna Anas narrated that the Prophet (swt) said:

“Perform Sehri for verily there is barakah (blessing) in Sehri” (Muslim, book of Siyaam)

Further more the prophet (pbuh) said:

“Perform sehri, even if one sip if water for surely Allah(swt) and His angels send mercy upon those who perform Sehri” (Musnad Ahmad)

With such blessings bestowed upon the fasting person how can we not awake from the depth of sleep for sehri and begin our fast?