Food

Introducing the Healthy Ramadan recipe makeover series!

“In America, one person in three dies of cancer, one in three suffers from allergies, one in ten will have ulcers and one in five is mentally ill… one out of five pregnancies ends in miscarriage and a quarter of a million infants are born with a birth defect each year… Americans spend one dollar out of every fourteen for medical services… We have almost forgotten that our natural state is one of balance, wholeness and vitality.” [Fallon, 2001]


Autism, autoimmune disorders, adult onset diabetes in children, Alzheimer’s and Chronic fatigue syndrome are all new diseases in our vernacular. Never before have we been plagued with so many non-communicable diseases. This rise in degenerative disease, especially the rise of Autism has lead Dr Mary Meagson to assert that we have altered the human genome. These changes greatly have to do with the foods we eat and do not eat. The work of Weston A. Price greatly highlights this connection.

Harvard medical school professor, Dr John Abramson in his book Overdosed America, stated that the rates of cancer and heart disease were both reduced with simple lifestyle changes, like dieting, and only after that, considering any medical intervention. Yet, most people look for a pill to solve their ills instead of at food choices. It is easier to pop a pill than to change your diet.

Most of the food choices people make are the types of diet mistakes that are causing our epidemic of lifestyle diseases. They are diet fads that change more according to the commercial food industry than due to science. Recall that we all were supposed to consume margarine instead of butter and it turned out that we were all better off consuming butter because margarine can cause heart disease, diabetes and cancer?

Saturated fat is not bad for us; it is the man-made hydrogenated oils that are causing the rise in degenerative disease. Most of the studies that conclude that saturated fat is bad used hydrogenated oils and not butter, lard or coconut oil. One animal study that did attempt to discredit the use of coconut oil had one group of rats consume coconut oil while the control group did not (they followed a low-fat diet). The researchers went a step further and injected the rats with high levels of cholesterol as if that will happen in nature and at the end of the study the control group was still fatter. Both Dr Abramson and the former New England Journal of Medicine editor, Dr Marcia Angel, asserts that “much of the scientific data today is manipulated.” The Framingham Study that is most often cited as a reason for lowered cholesterol and fat actually showed that the higher the intake of cholesterol, the healthier the person was.



The intake of calories is not the issue in weight loss or gain, the issue is that people are consuming too many calories that are not nutritious and not consuming enough of the right kind of calories. Caloric restriction is not the “gold standard” of any healthful program. It is the food choices that we make that will determine our health or degeneration. It is more important to eat an abundance of healthy calories than it is to be a human calculator.

In these recipes, I have taken the principles of healthy eating as determined by various researchers, doctors and nutritionists and applied them to some popular Ramadan favourites. I have made a number of changes to the original recipes to accomplish this:

  1. Replaced “unhealthy” cooking oils, like canola, corn and other vegetable oils with healthy oils, butter and coconut.   Here I am talking about cooking oils, you cannot heat olive oil. Not only do these oils cause inflammation, they cause oxidation, all clinical markers for autoimmune disorders, cancer, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
  2. Replaced unhealthy cooking methods with healthy methods. Overcooking meat and vegetables make them very difficult to digest because all of the enzymes are “cooked” out. Most of the nutrients are also cooked out as well.
  3. Replaced white rice and pasta with brown rice and brown rice pasta. White pasta and rice are also inflammatory which is important to reduce in conditions like autoimmune conditions, which are the fourth largest cause of death after cancer, heart disease and strokes. White rice is also a substance high on the glycolic index and should be avoided by people suffering from hypoglycemia, Syndrome X and both types of diabetes.
  4. Add in sea salt, seaweeds and astragalus to cooking water to make them extra nutritious. I have included them in many of these recipes.
  5. Cut out the soda, black tea and the coffee, they are diuretics.
  6. Say bismillah, do dhikr/tasbih or duaa as you prepare your food and fortify your food with the blessings of Allah.

 

Keep your eyes peeled for the first installment!


Sources

Angell, Marcia. The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It (Random House: 2005).

Abramson, John. Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine (HarperCollins: 2004)

Fallon, Sally. (2001) Nourishing Traditions. (New Trends Publishing: Washington D.C.).

Megson, Mary. “All About Autism.” Designs for Health Professional Resources.  March 29, 2006

Price, Weston, A. Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. 6th edition (Keats Pub: 2003).

Anisa Abeytia is a published author and poet. Her work is translated into over 12 languages and covers wide-ranging topics from science to art. After earning her B.A in Creative Writing from the University of Southern California, Abeytia started her career working for one of the producers of the “Godfather Trilogy.” She later attended graduate school at Stanford University and holds a Master’s of Art and Science. Over the last four years she was active in advocating for the Syrian cause and most recently for refugee rights. She is the director of “Anywhere But Home,” a documentary following the journey of Syrian refugees to Norway. She is also the producer of “I Am My Homeland,” a film that documents the experience of Syrian-Americans and Syrian refugees in the U.S.

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