Small pieces often give us a false impression of ‘small’ calories, but just like this post on sweets shows how wrong we can be about size – today’s post will talk about how to enjoy some of life’s tastier bites without worrying about calories.
Samosas (سمبوسه), fried meat balls? (كبة مقلية), or just regular French fries are constant staples during Ramadan or pretty much any Lebanese feast. It’s hard to just settle for one, seriously hard. Rejoice, for this is not an all-or-nothing scenario! It’s possible to enjoy them (in moderation) without compromising taste!
1- Invest in an air fryer. I recently got a Phillips air fryer and now I use nothing else for my ‘fried’ sweet potatoes. It takes a little getting used to, but your heart will thank you for it. The fries can be lightly sprayed with olive oil and air fried – imagine you end up having fries not soaked in oil, and ready in 5-7 mins! It also works equally well for spring rolls. Only downside is that this appliance works for small quantities only so if you’re cooking for more than 2-3 people, you will need to cook in batches.
2- Oven baked meatballs (كبة) tastes just as good as the fried with HALF the calories. You read that correctly. One piece of fried kebbeh is 300 calories, yet an oven baked one is only 125 calories! Enjoy 2 for the price of 1!
3- Learn from other cuisines. There are other appetizers out there that are NOT fried or sugar laden. I know the Mediterranean ‘diet’ is well known for being healthy, but it’s also a bit superfluous. Between the hummus and 8 types of appetizers, followed by 3 main dishes and finally topped with fruits and dessert – we really are not doing ourselves any favors. So let’s try to cut down and mix it up a little. This appetizer, for example, is incredibly delicious and made entirely out of vegetables! I made these Vietnamese vegetable spring rolls a few weeks back and they are super easy, healthy, filling and are paired with a out-of-this-world dipping peanut sauce! Try replacing Samosas this Ramadan with a couple of vegetable spring rolls and your waistline will thank you! Double tip: get your children to help you in the process and gain points for quality time!
4- Don’t skip the salad and soup! This is one Ramadan tradition that I highly encourage. Break your fast with a date or 2, then once seated on the dinner table – make sure to start with the soup, then salad BEFORE letting your hand wander off to the smaller bites (read: fried goods). The soup helps hydrate you, and the salad helps make you feel fuller faster – maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to leave the table with the pants unbuttoned. Bonus tip: Avoid “cream” based soups and always opt for clear broth soups instead. Also, nothing beats making soup from scratch when you can (you can make these in large batches and freeze for rainy days) because most ready-made soup are heavily salted.
Small tips, try one at a time, in whichever order that works for you. As always, feel free to mention your questions in the comments below! Maybe you have a tip that helped you keep your waistline in check, then please share away!