Ramadan, Snacks, Sweets, Uncategorized

Watermelon Appreciation


July is National Watermelon Month. I am not surprised. This very juicy fruit was hydrating during Ramadan and remains a symbol of summer. However, all self-proclaimed Foodies know that we don’t need to wait for a particular month to appreciate any food. Foodies appreciate food anytime and all of the time. If you’re allergic to watermelons or simply don’t like watermelons (like me), you can still join in on the watermelon appreciation month festivities by serving it to others. There are blessings in feeding others.

Here is a cool video on conveniently cutting that watermelon: youtu.be/LR6FNkC9U5s

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Gift Ideas, Uncategorized

Eid Gifts

The end of the month of Ramadan is quickly approaching. Eid (the Arabic word for celebration) will be the day following the last day of Ramadan. There isn’t any fasting performed on Eid. It is actually forbidden in Islam to fast on Eid. This is great news for an Allergic Halal Foodie because eating during sunlight hours can resume on Eid day. While many will typically celebrate Eid with a feast at home or in a restaurant, gift giving on Eid is customary, too. With Eid being very near, you may have begun to brainstorm about gifts.  If you’re stumped on ideas and are not sure what to get for that Allergic Halal Foodie in your life, I’ve provided some starter suggestions: 

  1. Vitamix. From making dairy-free ice cream to making nut-free butter, there are a variety of things that this powerful blade can make or pulverize. I cannot begin to explain how this has changed my Allergic Halal Foodie life. For starters, it has a self cleaning option…
  2. Touchless soap dispenser. This gadget is great for preventing cross contamination anywhere in the house. Cleaning hands is essential for food allergy safety and this type of soap dispenser eliminates that danger of spreading food allergens since one never needs to touch the pump to get soap.
  3. Spiralizer. I love how the presentation of something simple like carrots or zucchini is just that much heightened with this cool gadget. 
  4. Allergic Halal Foodie paraphernalia. What other way to celebrate and acknowledge the Allergic Halal Foodie lifestyle other than announcing it with gear. 
  5. Manual Food Chopper. This gadget is such a great and inexpensive kitchen tool if you have limited counter space or if you don’t have an electrical food processor. I do have an electric food processer, but I use this chopper for a variety of things, particularly for cutting perfectly shaped French Fries and diced onions.
  6. Restaurant gift certificate. There are several restaurants that offer gift certificates. Check their menu online or make a telephone call beforehand to see what delectable food options your Allergic Halal Foodie can enjoy.
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Dinner, Ramadan, Uncategorized

Ramadan Iftar Menu

There are a plethora of choices for the fasting Allergic Halal Foodie to eat for Iftar. Below are a few starters:

  • Dates. It is sunnah to break your fast with dates and water. Dates are a superfood and water is hydrating. 
  • Stuffed grape leaves with halal ground beef or lamb. Rice and meat wrapped in grape leaves sounds simple, yet deliciously meets the protein, carb, and veggie requirement. Make sure to use a dairy-free butter if you’re making these on your own or always inquire about the ingredients with the chef.
  • Soup. This is a easy dish with a wide range of options. Throw in water, seasoning, olive oil, veggies, and a protein of choice and you have a savory meal for Iftar. Hard pressed for ideas, here is a twist on a classic chicken soup recipe. 
  • Rice and beans. This a heavier dish than you think. It is a staple in my maternal heritage. The beans alone  provide a great source of fiber and protein, but go ahead and add your choice of additional protein like chicken or meat.
  • Kebabs. Pair with salad, couscous, bread, and even some plaintains and you’ll have a complete meal. If you’re not making the kebabs at home, make sure to ask the chef if the chicken or meat was marinated in yogurt.
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    Ramadan, Uncategorized

    The Fasting Allergic Halal Foodie

    The month of Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar.  For the entire month of Ramadan, it is a requirement for able Muslims to refrain from doing several things, particularly eating food and drinking beverages while the sun is up. The fasting Muslim eats a pre-dawn meal called suhoor. It is eaten before the Islamic dawn prayer called Fajr. Muslims resume eating and drinking (sometimes it’s often said “break their fast”) with something light at sunset, the time of the Islamic sunset prayer called Maghrib. It is Islamic tradition to break the fast with dates and water.  After Maghrib prayer, the evening meal called iftar is eaten. 

    The Allergic Halal Foodie fasts the same way as all Muslims except with the additional precautions of avoiding food allergens. The food allergens that are typically nuts, dairy, peanuts, egg, fish, and seafood tend to make its way into most of nutrient rich foods that one would want to eat before fasting. 

    Here is a sample day of fasting for an Allergic Halal Foodie:

    1. Eat suhoor before dawn. Include proteins and good fats like avocados, meat, and dairy-free protein packed smoothies. 
    2. Drink lots of water before you start fasting.
    3. Pray Fajr prayer.
    4. At sunset, break your fast with water and dates (or tea and something sweet like dairy-free pastry).
    5. Pray Maghrib prayer.
    6. Eat iftar and include proteins and good fats like quinoa, olive oil, and meat.
    7. Hydrate with water and hydrating fruits during the night before sleeping.

    Give yourself enough time to eat the suhoor and enjoy it, too. Don’t just grab a nut-free granola bar. Make that suhoor a complete and tasty meal, as there is additional blessing in eating suhoor.

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    The Food Allergies, Uncategorized

    Organic

    Do people really know what the word organic means when referring to food? I will be honest and say that if you had asked me that question over 10 years ago, I wouldn’t know the definition of the word organic as it refers to food. Growing up as an Allergic Halal Foodie in New York City, I never saw or heard this word for food items. Actually, the first time I heard the word organic was when I was an undergraduate in New York studying organic chemistry. I never made any positive association with this word because the organic chemistry class had a reputation of being the hardest science class for aspiring medical students. I actually had an aversion to the word because of this preconceived notion. Ultimately, I receive an A- in the organic chemistry laboratory and a very bad grade in the organic chemistry lecture. I guess my Allergic Halal Foodie lifestyle spilled into my academic life as I liked synthesizing materials in the laboratory, yet despised sitting through a lecture that didn’t produce anything tanglible. 

    At the time, I did not see how this word fit into my life with food. Fast forward to today and I still don’t see how this word fits into my Allergic Halal Foodie lifestyle. However, others seem to think it is very applicable to an Allergic Halal Foodie’s lifestyle. Every time I eat outside of my home and ask about the ingredients, the first response is typically “it is organic” or somehow the word makes it into the conversation. People easily use this word and seem to associate it with allergic or halal. As if organic food satisfies the diet of an allergic person or one who only eats halal foods. Strangely, this same association isn’t made with the Foodie label. I guess folks assume that a Foodie will eat everything without asking questions. This couldn’t be farther from the truth and it is also insulting. 

    Organic food is food (or livestock) that hasn’t been grown (or raised) with modifications, pesticides, or additives. It is great for those who are conscientiously choosing to eat healthy foods. However, organic means nothing extraordinarily significant to the allergic individual, halal food only individual, or foodie individual. At the end of the day, organic milk is lethal to the highly allergic person and organic pork is haram for a Muslim.

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    Snacks, Sweets, Uncategorized

    Chocolate Rice Crispy Treat

    What happens when you mix chocolate rice cereal, dairy-free and allergen-free butter, and halal marshmallow? You get a delectable classic rice crispy treat.

    Ingredients:

    1. Chocolate rice cereal (I chose this brown rice cereal with less guilt)
    2. Halal and allergen free marshmallows (I usually use either one of those two brands) 
    3. Dairy-free and allergen-free butter

    Recipe:  

    Melt allergen-free butter and marshmallows (in a pot on the stove or microwave). Pour chocolate rice cereal into the melted marshmallows. Pat down and shape with a silicone spatula. Cool in fridge. Eat and enjoy!

    **I chose to shape these treats in a casserole dish and then I cut them into squares. I also didn’t list the quantity of ingredients used because you can tailor this simple recipe to your taste. I used less rice cereal than marshmallows because I never had halal marshmallows when I was a young girl. I really don’t need to explain how I subconsciously try to make up for lost times…**

    These were my results.

      

    You can see the excess of white marshmallows. If this isn’t your desired result, just add more chocolate rice cereal to the melted mixture before the batch hardens and before placing in the fridge.

     

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    Uncategorized

    Vegan Cheddar cheese

    There a few vegan cheese brands that exist. Daiya just happens to be one of my favorite brands.  I also think this particular brand is available in a variety of stores, rather than solely at the natural foods stores. Daiya makes block style cheddar cheese, shredded style cheddar cheese, and sliced cheddar cheese.  I use this block style if I want to cut shapes or make a fun cheese and cracker plate for the kids. Either style of Daiya’s cheddar cheese melts nicely and tastes great for that dairy and nut free cheddar cheese craving. 

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    Uncategorized

    Hybrid Halal?

    When you’re in the mood to eat out, you never know what to expect. Whether it is a long wait to be seated or nothing appealing on the menu, your eating out experience can be unpredictable. Additionally, as an Allergic Halal Foodie, your menu options seem limited (fish or vegan, please?). However, I like to give every restaurant the benefit of the doubt. I don’t rule out the eatery until I check out (i.e., scrutinize) the menu. My scrutiny paid off when I found a local restaurant that had seafood, vegetarian, and halal meat! In addition to the beautiful view and ambiance of the restaurant, I was delighted to see that there was a halal lamb burger and two other halal meat menu items. Be careful of being presumptuous because the other lamb dish on the menu wasn’t halal lamb. I had to ask the restaurant staff to confirm whether it was a typo or not. So, yes, halal and not halal meat offered on the same menu in a non-halal restaurant . I never saw nor expected to ever see this phenomenon.

    Is it possible to be an Allergic Halal Foodie at a non-halal restaurant? Apparently, yes it is very possible. Check out the menu of the venue prior to visiting. Instead of looking for the typical fish or vegan menu items, look (or ask) for halal meat options. 

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