Belated Blessed Eid, dear friends! The month of fasting has passed, along with the subsequent celebration of breaking the fast. We scooted up to Abu Dhabi for our five-day weekend and delightfully ended our last day of Ramadan with very dear friends we know from the U.S. but didn’t fully bond with until sharing the expat journey together. Our last iftar meal was vegan pizza, quinoa salad, plantains, greens, and turmeric latte. Did I feel any guilt? Absolutely not. We had a strong first week of all raw food, interrupted by the epic Plant-Based in Muscat vegan iftar, and a second solid week of raw before realizing that something was off.
Our first pitfall was food prep. It felt like we were spending more time preparing less food. Of course, raw food is nutritionally dense, but we were spinning our wheels to prep so much but eat so little. Outside of Ramadan, the option of grazing and snacking all day would offset a less-than-filling dinner, but to spend the day fasting and finally tuck into a meal that wasn’t as tasty as promised, so high in fat to feel full, or very delicious but gone too soon quickly became frustrating.
Our second pitfall, I was cooking meals for the children and Muscat was experiencing a produce quality dip as the summer heat came on, so it was hard to make use of non-nut/seed protein-rich dishes by relying on greens because we had so few local greens. We had a glimpse of hope when a hydroponic farm started home delivery and enjoyed one solid week with organic spinach, bok choy, basil, and chives. The second week; however, this same farm delayed delivery until it was cancelled and has been MIA ever since. So, we were back to square one debating between plastic-wrapped, European-imported greens, or taking a chance on locally sourced greens of questionable quality.
And our final pitfall, was that my menstrual cycle was late. Not due to pregnancy but probably due to a nutritional need or the overall adjustment to fasting every day. My cycle eventually did come but knowing what I know about hormones, that was when I allowed myself to fully enjoy cooked food and replenish nutrients and minerals that a menstruating woman needs. Thereafter, it was the final stretch of Ramadan, and I was tired of thinking of food completely. I wanted to focus my attention on worship, prayer, and squeezing out the last drops of benefit I could.
In short, a high-raw Ramadan served us well. However, our most nourishing and satisfying meals were a varied combination of raw vegetables, roasted root vegetables, cooked beans and/or grains, and a moderate amount of fats from nuts, seeds, or olives. Moving forward, I will revisit cycle-syncing based on the book of Woman Code (which I would highly recommend but message me for my points of caution/critique!) which basically means adjusting your food and lifestyle choices to align with the hormonal shifts within the female body. So, basically my whole family’s meal plan is shaped by what mama needs which, I believe, is a combination of raw and cooked foods prepared with lots of love and intention and minimal stress and frustration.
Please share your RAWmadan experience in the comments. I’d love to hear them!