9 Must-Try Foods to Power Up Your Pantry – and Yourself

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Some foods are more powerful than others. Get to know which ones you should have in your pantry and refrigerator this Ramadan. By Fatimah Jackson-Best.

9 Must-Try Foods to Power Up Your Pantry – and Yourself_Aquila Style
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Every good recipe starts with good ingredients. The same concept is true for having a good day of fasting. What we put in our bodies counts, so the contents of your pantry and fridge are going to be key to your success during the holy month of fasting.

All healthy foods will have good nutritional values, but power foods stand out due to their high levels of vitamins and minerals. These are foods we should incorporate into our lives beginning in Ramadan and continue to have, even when we’ve finished fasting. Dates, of course, are an obvious choice. Here are nine other power foods you should get familiar with this Ramadan.

Quinoa. Commonly thought to be a grain, quinoa is actually a seed that was domesticated in the Andean region of South America over 3,000 years ago. It is acclaimed for its high protein content and nutty taste. Use quinoa instead of white rice in your next meal to change up your routine. Just be sure to rinse it before cooking so that the bitter coating is removed.

Beans. Beans are also full of protein, but did you know they have a significant amount of fibre too? Try black beans, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, and fava beans this Ramadan as an alternative to meat. Mix them up in salads or make a chili to add some diversity to your iftar meals.

Fish. All fish is high in protein while salmon, sardines, tuna, halibut and mackerel have great levels of omega 3. In Barbados we are blessed to have different varieties of fresh wild fish throughout the year.  Check out your local fish market to see what is local and recently caught. If you are able to buy only frozen fish, stick with varieties that were caught in the wild. The same rule applies for canned fish.

Berries. Don’t let the size of a berry fool you! The bright skins of these small fruits indicate their richness of vitamins and minerals. Blueberries have been found to be natural cancer preventers, while strawberries and blackberries are rich in antioxidants. Have yours with yogurt or on top of pancakes and waffles with a drizzle of maple syrup for sahur.

Green tea. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice cup of tea? This Ramadan, switch over from black to green to take advantage of its cancer-fighting properties and speed up your metabolism. Green tea also fights against diabetes and helps to lower your cholesterol.

Oats. Oats are rich in dietary fibre – good news for Ramadan, because that means they will keep you full. Having one half to a full cup of oats at sahur will burn more slowly in your body and relieve you from hunger pangs. Add fruits and spices like nutmeg and cloves to make your bowl of oatmeal extra delicious.

Soursop. If you have not heard of this fruit do some research immediately! Soursop is common in many tropical countries and may be called other names depending on where you live. But its nutritional value is not lost in translation: soursop was recently discovered to be a great cancer-preventing fruit, and it is high in vitamins and minerals. Once peeled and pulped this bumpy fruit is great as a juice or in a smoothie.

Bananas. I love bananas for their creamy texture and versatility. They are also high in potassium and vitamin B6, which means that having them will give your body energy and keep you balanced. Slice them up over cereal or use them in baking. If you like making banana bread, decrease the sugar and increase the bananas for a more wholesome dessert.

Almonds. A handful of almonds at sahur or iftar will give you a great dose of fibre and good fats which are essential for digestion and keeping your skin looking young. Almonds can be sprinkled over a fruit platter or sliced and added to a salad for some extra crunch.

Remember: healthy living is a lifestyle, and Ramadan is an opportunity to explore different foods to increase our knowledge and wellness!

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