This coming Friday night a Jewish Shabbat and Yom Kippur holiday occur together. While I look forward to a day of prayer and meditation, a day offline and a day of cleaner air, I confess I don’t relish the thought of the 25-hour fast. So what are the smartest things I can do to make it go easier? And which foods go down best when the fast is over?
For starters, I’m reducing caffeine intake. One scant cup a day is all I ever drink, but it’s amazing how dependent I am on it. Today and tomorrow just one-half cup. Lots of water, all day long, to detox and make the caffeine withdrawal a little easier to bear during the fast itself.
Other sensible things to do pre-fast:
- Eat normal-sized meals. No need to pack oversized portions into the body; it won’t help fasting and will make you thirstier.
- Drink, drink, drink – plenty of water, no alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates, water hydrates.
- Starting today, reduce protein and increase complex carbs in your meals. Carbs help you stay hydrated. Choose whole grains and whole-grain breads and pastas; fruit and vegetables rich in fiber. They will keep you feeling full for longer.
- Reduce sugar and salt in all your food. Tapering off seasonings conditions you and helps avoid the worst food cravings.
So what foods should you eat before the fast? Some suggestions:
Fruit with a high water content. Grapes. Melons. Oranges. They’re all full of water and vitamin C to sustain you.
Soup. Vegetable soup, or a light chicken soup.
Light proteins like eggs and soft (not salty) cheeses like cottage or ricotta. Fish baked or grilled, not fried.
Whole-wheat bread and pasta with a light sauce that includes plenty of vegetables.
High-fiber, nutrient-dense vegetables like sweet potatoes.
Grain-based salads like choumous. (Photo above.)
But no spicy curries or chili-ed tajines! Keep your seasonings on the mild side.
Foods for breaking the fast:
Of course, you’ll need to prepare a meal to have available right after the fast. But the best thing you can do when Yom Kippur is over is to rehydrate yourself. Reach for orange juice, herbal tea, almond milk or plenty of plain H2O – before you start your meal. Your body will say thanks.
Plan a post-fast menu with no meat to distress your empty stomach (although the light chicken soup won’t hurt you).
Some have the custom of breaking the fast with cake (try our honey chiffon cake) and drinks, followed by something more substantial an hour later. This makes plenty of sense. For that heavier meal, choose foods similar to the ones you ate pre-fast, allowing more generous helpings of light proteins.
- Majadra. With the refreshing ayran yogurt drink.
- Bread with dips and spreads (see below).
- Omelets or a mildly-spiced shakshuka (put the heat back in your food next day).
- Fresh veg like our Syrian Tomato Salad, with mild cheeses.
- Potatoes with Fava Beans (substitute frozen for fresh favas, which are not in season now, or frozen peas).
- Soup, again, with good bread or savory organic corn muffins.
Wishing all those fasting enlightenment and joy at the end of the day!
Green Prophet’s dips and spreads to accompany the post-fast meal:
Photo of choumous and chopped salad by Miriam Kresh. Miriam also blogs at Israeli Kitchen.