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A month of festivals: fasting, family, faith, feasting and fish
heartfoundation.org.au|Helpline 13 11 12

A month of festivals: fasting, family, faith, feasting and fish

12 April 2022

It’s that time of year when we start enjoying the charms of autumn like cooler nights, beautifully coloured leaves, and delicious seasonal fruits and veggies (mandarin, anyone?) If that wasn’t enough, April is also one of the most festive months of the year! Here, we highlight four cultural traditions many of us will be celebrating this month, along with some heart-healthy tips.  

Ramadan (2 April – 1 May)  

We are currently in the month of Ramadan, an Islamic holy month dedicated to prayer, reflection and fasting from dawn to dusk. The end of a month of fasting is recognised with a special celebration, Eid al-Fitr, involving traditional dishes, spending time with family, new clothes and gift-giving.  

If you’re fasting during Ramadan this month, here are some heart-healthy tips to keep in mind.  

  • Stay hydrated. Keeping your hydration levels up while observing Ramadan is important, especially if you opt not to drink anything as part of your fast during daylight hours. Remember, water is always the best heart-healthy drink option.  

  • Choose heart-healthy snacks when it’s time to break your fast. When we’re feeling hungry, it can be tempting to opt for salty, fatty or sugary foods. Why not try one of these healthy food swaps:  

    • Instead of white rice or pasta, try wholegrain brown rice, brown pasta or quinoa.  
    • For sweet cravings, opt for fresh fruits and plain Greek yoghurt instead of cakes or ice cream.  
    • Instead of using butter, ghee or coconut oil in your cooking, aim for olive, canola, peanut or sunflower oils. 
    • Instead of frying food, try baking or grilling as a healthier option.  

  • If you have a medical condition, including a heart condition or diabetes, or are taking any medicines, we always recommend checking in with your doctor to see if it is safe to fast.     

Easter  

You might spend Easter Sunday (17 April) hanging out with family, going to a place of worship or hunting for easter eggs* with the kids (and nabbing one for yourself when they’re not looking). For many of us, it’s time to get our bake on and whip up some Easter favourites. Check out our range of heart-healthy recipes, like fruity hot cross scones or Easter brunch tarts.   

What about Good Friday? Some people might choose not to eat red meat on Good Friday, or on Fridays generally. Fish is a popular and heart-healthy alternative. It’s also a great opportunity to try a new recipe! Why not check out one of our many tasty fish dishes, like Moroccan spiced fish with cous cous and raisin salad or fish saganaki (Greek-style fish)?  

Ever wonder why Orthodox Easter (24 April) often falls on a different date? Fun fact: it is based on a different calendar. Orthodox Easter follows the Julian calendar and is celebrated by people from many countries around the world including Greece, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Russia. 

It’s also a time to partake in the Orthodox tradition of cracking dyed red eggs together. The rules are pretty simple: crack your egg against another and whoever ends up with the undamaged egg at the end wins. The more complicated question is what to do with the many boiled eggs you end up with! Besides being a delicious protein-packed snack on their own, you can also include boiled eggs in our fresh Caesar salad, or add them to our roasted veggie bowl (swapping them for the poached eggs in the recipe).  

Passover (Pesach) (15 – 23 April)  

Passover, or Pesach, is a Jewish religious celebration of the freedom of Israelites from slavery. It is a time of prayer, preparing meals, singing and spending time with family. The first two nights of Passover are marked with a special meal known as the seder, where traditional prayers are spoken, and symbolic foods are eaten. Two traditional foods dipped into salt water are vegetables and hard-boiled eggs (go easy on the salt). It is also a time to eat bitter herbs, which symbolises the suffering of Israelites when they were slaves in Egypt.  The use of herbs and spices instead of salt to flavour food is a big plus for heart-healthy eating, and we’ve got you covered when it comes to spice. Search our website using the term ‘spice’ and you’ll get nearly 50 recipes!  

Happy New Year! 

Happy new year to people from Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Thailand and Sri Lanka! In these countries, the new year is welcomed around the middle of the month, with traditional foods, music and cultural rituals. If you’re one of the many people who will be bringing in the new year soon, it’s a great time to think outside the box when it comes to including exercise in your celebrations. For example, activities like dancing and cleaning the house (a traditional part of many new year celebrations) all count and are a heart-healthy way of kicking off the new year. Find more physical activity ideas here.   

See, we weren’t kidding when we said April is a festivity-filled month, and we recognise there are many other cultural celebrations happening this month too! 

At the Heart Foundation, we want to ensure everyone can access heart-healthy advice. Did you know we have heart health information in a variety of languages? You can find them here.     

*We apologise for not including any egg-cellent puns. We decided to take a different a-poach this year and spare you the unfunny yolks.  

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