August 16, 2011

Eating and Drinking during Ramadan


Believe it or not, the most difficult thing I find about the Ramadan is not the fasting, the hunger or thirst, the sometimes zapping exhaustion of not eating for so long, the lack of sleep/rest from praying at night or even working while fasting. The most difficult thing about the month of Ramadan, for me personally, is actually eating and drinking. Yep, you read that right, eating and drinking is DIFFICULT. For someone who loves to eat. I’m purely of the belief that Allah absolutely has a sense of Humor and this is one of those ironic things that He would find funny, if He Laughs. I don’t know.

Moving along, I don’t know why, I just don’t want to eat or drink anything. But I know I have to, as my cognitive and physical function definitely decreases if I don’t adequately eat or drink. Maybe my throat is just so used to being closed? I don’t know. It’s a good thing, in part, since we’re learning to curb our desires but I still need to consume nutrients, right? So during the month of Ramadan, when time is definitely a premium commodity, is when my culinary creativity comes out. Go figure. Maybe it’s one of the miracles of Ramadan, lol.

What am I looking for in a meal? Something that combines all the things you need to have for the day and can be eaten as breakfast or dinner. I usually only eat two meals during the days/nights of Ramadan, suhoor (meal eaten before fasting for the day commences) and iftar (meal that breaks the daily fast). I may graze on fruit, candy or water during the night before I go to sleep. The meals I make need to have protein, fiber and carbs. I need food that will give me energy quickly but not cause me to crash (which is why dates are so great). It also needs to be hefty without being heavy, if that makes sense, so that the food will burn off slowly and sustain me during the fast. If I can fit dairy in there, score. Round out the meal with fresh fruit or veggies, we need our chlorophyll.

The recipe I’m sharing is one I spied on the back of pack of shredded mexican cheese by kraft. It’s called Santa Fe Enchilada Bake and it’s DELICIOUS and really fits the bill nutrition-wise and keeping-me-satisfied-wise. I’ll paste the recipe below and then describe my tweaks, cuz of course I messed with the recipe.

What You Need

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1   each large onion and green pepper, chopped
2 cups salsa
1 pkg.  (10 oz.) frozen corn, thawed, drained
12 corn tortillas (6 inch)
1 cup  BREAKSTONE’S or KNUDSEN Sour Cream
1-1/2 cups KRAFT Mexican Style Finely Shredded Four Cheese

Make It

HEAT oven to 400ºF.

COOK and stir chicken, onions and peppers in large nonstick skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat 10 min. or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in salsa and corn.

ARRANGE 6 tortillas on bottom of 13×9-inch baking dish; cover with layers of 1/2 each chicken mixture, sour cream and cheese. Repeat layers; cover with foil.

BAKE 40 min. or until heated through, removing foil after 30 min. Let stand 5 min.

Ok, back to me. So, I magically didn’t have green pepper, even though they grow in my garden (along with evil crabgrass) and we buy them every week. Shrug. Our garden and groceries yielded long, skinny Japanese eggplants, so I used that instead. And I wanted this to be really filling and 1 lb of chicken is not enough, in my humble opinion. So I dumped in a can of black beans as well. It was just a happy family of foods. Also, 1 cup of sour cream is a ridiculous amount of sour cream. So I used half a cup and put little teaspoonfuls of sour cream when it was time for sour cream. I also didn’t feel like measuring out 1-1/2 cups of shredded cheese, so I just used one 8 oz bag and called it a night. And of course I added spices to the chicken, I can’t believe they didn’t specify anything. The travesty.

In conclusion, an awesome meal that I (and my family) have been having for suhoor and iftar. It refrigerates and microwaves well and is great as an entree or a side. Love. Will remake.

Photo time! This is my first time with photos, so please bear with me. I’ll try to incorporate them more nicely (ah, proper English) in future posts.

Chicken, eggplant and onion mixed together with spices.

I couldn’t take a not-gross photo but I tried. It looked better in real life. I don’t remember what spices I put, but I was going for a “Mexican” feel. From memory (or if I was doing this again), I’d put salt, black pepper, chili pepper powder, garlic powder, cumin and coriander. I put a bouillion cube, too, but it wasn’t necessary. Next time, I’d add fresh cilantro in here, too.


Look at everything all plopped on top of each other!Everything all mixed together.

I couldn't find a pan. So I lined a springform pan. Enchilada cake =).Look at the pretty tortilla flower I made! I love patterns.Don't you just love it when you get to sprinkle cheese on top?

Finished enchilada bake! Yummmmm!!!!!
Please excuse my messy counter and crappy photography skills. I was trying not to make my precious new phone too cheesy. The aspect ratio of the phone’s photos is kind of elongated, no?
Anyway, back to the recipe, I sprayed the aluminum foil covering with PAM so that the cheese wouldn’t stick to it. I’d never done that before and I have to say, it worked like a champ. I’d say it took me about 30 min to prep, including cooking the chicken and chopping stuff up. Next time, I’ll add the pepper, more salsa (due to the added beans) and maybe more fresh stuff. Maybe zucchini, another eggplant, spinach? Shredded carrots? Just really beef up the veggie quotient. I’d also use ground chicken/beef instead of pieces of chicken. Hmmm, instead of more salsa, maybe a can of tomato sauce, just to make it a little liquidy as the flavoring of the salsa is pretty intense as is. I could also see serving this with eggs for brunch for triple protein power – chicken, beans and egg (and little from the cheese, too!).
Hope you enjoyed this recipe, I’ll try to post more, eventually.
All photos courtesy of yours truly, HijabEng.


  1. I love your site, I’ll definitely stop back.The info is right on, some of the comments are way off though.

    Comment by Damion Namm — August 18, 2011 @ 11:08 am | Reply

    • Thank you! WordPress and I are in a fight right now, arguing about how to properly insert photos and caption them. I’ll try to fix it.

      Comment by hijabeng — August 18, 2011 @ 12:56 pm | Reply

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