It should probably go without saying that The Halal Guys serves tasty, halal food. However, I just had my first experience with this eatery with my husband and kids. I was amazed that my kids with food allergies could eat almost everything on the menu. The food allergens that we avoid are egg, dairy, nuts, seafood, peanuts, and fish. We were recently in Southern California and we stopped into The Halal Guys. We had to ask our typical rundown of questions (i.e., what type of oil do you use? what are the ingredients used to make that dish? etc…). I was pleasantly surprised that peanut oil wasn’t used and there was only one item (other than the obvious off limits baklava) that was off limits due to the egg yolk content. Even though I am from NYC and live in the SF Bay Area, which are both full of The Halal Guys locations, I had never been or tasted their delicious dishes. If you’re in the mood for tasty, quick, and halal (and food allergy friendly) food, check out a location near you. Always ask about your food allergens as each location may have a slightly different menu. Bon Appetit!
What do you do when it is your turn to provide classroom snack at your kid’s school? You might choose to run the other way when the Room Parent tries to sign you up for the snack duty role. You might even sign up, but then ask yourself “how do I feed a bunch of other people kids?!?!”. Throw in the many dietary restrictions that could exist in a classroom of hungry kids and your role may now seem like an impossible feat.
Don’t fret. I have snack duty every five weeks at my youngest daughter’s school. Because she has food allergies and eats only halal food, I like to make my snack duty day fun and inclusive. I don’t have anything against the parents who bring those notorious fish shaped cheese crackers, or gummy snacks, or cheese sticks. Those are super convenient snacks that you can easily find in bulk. I just know that I always have to pack my kid a snack from home everyday so that any allergic reactions at school snack time can be thwarted.
Your snack duty day does not have to be dreadful or stressful. Kids like having a break from school work and having something good to eat. So are you stuck for snack ideas? Here are some quick and yummy ideas for that inevitable snack duty day. Please note that these are nut-free, seafood and fish-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and halal snack ideas. If there is an allergen listed below that exists in your kid’s classroom you can adjust accordingly and or make sure to keep separate from the other food items to avoid cross contamination.
1. Carrots, apples, and pretzels with a nut-free dip
2. Popcorn (plain, olive oil, or salted), pumpkin seeds, and raisins
3. Bagels and dairy-free cream cheese (or dairy-free butter), cucumbers, and blueberries
4. Mini quesadillas with dairy-free cheese, carrots, and grapes
5. Graham crackers, applesauce, and carrots
6. Nut-free butter pinwheels, celery, and bananas
7. Corn chips, guacomole, and beans
It is really typical to have a day (or week) when you do not want to cook. As an Allergic Halal Foodie, you might feel like it is your obligation to cook, but it isn’t the whole truth. There is always a way to eat good food cooked by someone other than you. I like to remember when I was a little girl in New York City, my mother would have a night when she didn’t cook dinner, rather she ordered takeout food. For us it was Fridays, but takeout food day can any day you choose. The first thing I would suggest to do is to pick a cuisine and call up those places. Tell them about your food allergies and ask if they can make accomodations (like cook without peanut oil or hold of on the grated cheese). Also ask if them for their meat and chicken supplier. Then you can check on your own time if their supplier is halal. Many restaurants may serve halal meat and chicken, but may not put a visible halal sign or may not obtain halal certification for a variety of reasons.
I like the Hot Shop located in Albany, CA. I found it unexpectedly while driving througn the town. This eatery is a family friendly and family owned place. It is a popular place to eat and all without a website. I walked in and loved that I can see the whole kitchen. This is helpful to ensure that my order is correct and there isn’t any cross contamination. The food is Mexican cuisine and there are some specialty dishes including one with an Afghan cuisine flavor. At the end of the day, we all found something to eat and their food is delicious. Try these tips at your local Mexican cuisine place and enjoy your “takeout food day” at your convenience.
There are always great finds at Costco. Even though I shop at various grocery stores to complete my grocery shopping list, the bulk (literally and figuratively) of the items on my list are at Costco. What does an Allergic Halal Foodie need that isn’t from a health food store and doesn’t break the bank? Well, take a peek here at July’s Costco haul.
- Organic Raisins. Two huge bags of organic raisins for your delight are available at Costco. I like to put them in my couscous, oatmeal, and homemade dairy- and nut-free trail mixes.
- Nature’s Path Organic Cereal Flakes. How do you take grains like spelt, barley, and more and make it into a very tasty cereal? Nature’s Path successfully found a way. Plus this cereal has a great amount of protein. Add the organic raisins that you just purchased from Costco and you will have a high protein and healthier “Raisin Bran”-ish cereal. I also add these flakes to a homemade trail mix.
- Organic Blueberries. Blueberries are so great and nutritious. My kids loved blueberries since infancy. There is a good size list of things to eat with your blueberries. If you are not sure where to start your blueberry path, here is a dairy- and egg-free recipe for blueberry muffins.
- Organic Quinoa. Typically expensive for a small box, this huge bag of quinoa is the best deal around. The amount of protein along with its health benefits makes this item always on the Costco list.
- Organic Ketchup. What else goes well with sweet potato fries, halal chicken bites, and meat patties? Ketchup and lots of it! You get a twin pack of big organic ketchup bottles at a price that is unmatched elsewhere.
At some point, an Allergic Halal Foodie may experience not being in the mood to cook. Although it is the safest and most assuring option to cook your own meals, it is a completely normal sentiment to not want to cook. It is essential to not feel restricted because of your dietary restrictions. To assist with this potential dilemma, I’ll post takeout food options on Tuesdays.
This Tuesday’s Takeout Food is Saffron Road. Frozen food for an Allergic Halal Foodie?!?! Yes, frozen food is an option. Who says takeout food has to come from a restaurant? My definition of takeout food is prepared food that is eaten outside of the place where it was prepared. Saffron Road is 100% halal and has a variety of products for people with food allergies. Their takeout frozen food products have the ingredients clearly listed as well as highlight the common food allergens. Also, check out their website for product details and locations. Don’t be surprised to see that some of the product locations include the whole gamut from specialty grocery stores to the big chain supermarkets. If you really want to maximize your takeout food experience, have the groceries delivered to you from the grocery store. Many stores offer same delivery. Enjoy your takeout food!
When I first heard of the big box stores that sold bulk items, I immediately thought that those stores existed only for business owners or rich people. Then I moved to California when I got married. I became my husband’s plus one (+1) to his Costco account. Since you only get one extra Costco membership card without any additional fees, I felt honored to have access to this store. I couldn’t wait to see what products were sold and what was the big deal (literally and figuratively). Once inside I immediately noticed how there is something for everyone in this huge store. If you are newbie shopper or a frequent shopper at Costco, it can get overwhelming. I want to spotlight some items that you may not have noticed.
1. Organic non-dairy milk. As you know, an Allergic Halal Foodie is dairy free. Most likely you will drink non-dairy milk when eating your cookies. There is a lot of allergy safe cookie eating in an Allergic Halal Foodie’s life, so why not save time and money by buying your dairy-free beverage at Costco. It has a long shelf life, too.
2. Organic dates. With Ramadan this month, this item is a handy addition to your Costco shopping list. They’re organic and delicious. It is sunnah for the fasting Muslim to break their fast with dates and water. Not interested in sunnah practices of breaking your fast with dates, you have plenty of ways to eat dates like this homemade Twix bar that uses the dates for the caramel. Yum!
3. Organic maple syrup. The uses of maple syrup is vast. In addition to using it to drizzle onto homemade dairy free Belgian waffles, I like to use it for quick allergy friendly barbeque (equal parts of ketchup and maple syrup) and teriyaki (equal parts of soy sauce and maple syrup) sauces. Yes, it is really that simple to make those 2 sauces.
4. Halal Lamb Roast. Sometimes you can’t or don’t want to make an extra trip to your halal butcher. Alternatively, Costco has halal meat! It doesn’t get any sweeter than that…
5. Organic pasta. Most “gourmet” pastas have egg. Costco has an organic pack of pasta that is egg-free. True foodies know that there are endless options with pasta meals.
The pre-dawn meal called suhoor is eaten before the Islamic dawn prayer Fajr. In addition to this meal being mandatory before one starts fasting each day during the month of Ramadan, there are blessings just in eating it. Make sure to load this meal with protein, fiber, fruits and vegetables, as well as hydrate yourself with water. So don’t skimp on this meal as it provides you with blessing and feul for your day.
- Fruit and protein wrap. Take a flatbread and spread nut-free butter of your choice (I use this soy nut butter because of a nut allergy). Slice some fruit and place on top of the nut-free butter. Sprinkle some cinnamon then roll it up to eat it as a food wrap or fold it in half and eat with a knife and fork. If you don’t have any flat bread, you can use any slice bread. Cut off the crusts of the bread slices and then use a rolling pin to make flat.
- Bran muffins are a great source of fiber that you can easily make dairy-free with this recipe or buy them at the store.
- Oatmeal is a healthy suhoor staple that is easy and filling. You can prepare your oatmeal and toppings in advance and just add your dairy-free milk and heat when ready to eat. Here are some DIY oatmeal packet ideas.
- Smoothies are a great way to get in protein, fruits, veggies, and liquids. The picture is an apple, spinach, and ginger smoothie. Super easy and delicious. Add your dairy-free yogurt or dairy-free protein powder and you’ll have a quenching pre-dawn fiesta in your mouth.
- Water. Simple, yet essential for suhoor. Make sure to include at least 2 cups of water before you start your fast. Not a fan of water, try drinking it room temperature or try putting some fruit slices for flavor.
Do you think that a grater is just for grating cheese? Well, that is just one of the many things in life that couldn’t be be farther from the truth in an Allergic Halal Foodie’s world. Chances are a dairy and nut allergic person will not even consider a grater to be useful. However, there are quite a few great allergy free foods to grate and I just wanted to spotlight a few.
Chocolate. Grate some dairy-free and allergen free chocolate pieces over ice cream, dairy-free whipped cream, hot cocoa, or directly into your mouth and you won’t be disappointed. Only have chocolate powder in stock or don’t have the time to make a quick stop at the market for that tasty allergen-free chocolate? Don’t fret. You can easily make your own solid chocolate. Recipe is here.
Bananas. Yes, you can grate bananas. Frozen bananas. A positive result of grated frozen bananas is dairy-free ice cream. When you grate the frozen bananas, top it with some of the chocolate you just grated, too.
Veggies. Carrots, zucchini, beets are just a few of the vegetables that will be quickly cut and ready for consumption with a hand grater.
Garlic. Instead of mincing this flavorful seasoning, try grating it. I have a garlic press which is also very helpful, but I personally always feel like a little bit of garlic remains in the garlic press compresses section and that always gets wasted. Try sticking the garlic clove with a fork and then grate without making your fingertips bleed. Nothing beats quick and fresh cut garlic and odor free fingers.
Onions. This always helpful if you don’t have a food processor, tend to use fresh onions frequently, or if you just hate chopping onions.
So go ahead and purchase a grater for that foodie in your life (maybe it is you).
Sometimes you don’t want to make something from scratch. Macaroni and cheese is one of those dishes that is typically made from scratch and has a distinct homemade taste. This distinct taste of this classic dish can be made dairy-free without skimping on the deliciousness. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. In this case, you can have both. Justifiable if you want to cheat a little bit, but not with the flavor or risk of eating something that tastes horrible.
Here are the various “not-from-scratch” dairy-free Mac & Cheese options that exist and meet the Allergic Halal Foodie standards:
Daiya Macaroni & Cheese. This is a great option because you don’t have to melt the cheese. This mac & cheese box includes the uncooked pasta and cheese sauce packet. The cheese sauce is extremely cheesy, eliminating the work of adding dairy-free butter, dairy-free milk, and any other extra cooking steps. Just boil the pasta and add the cheese sauce and you’re done! You do have the option to use their elbow pasta included or swap it out for your own preferred pasta shape. Decisions, decisions…
Earth Balance Macaroni & Cheese is a nice choice for boxed mac and cheese. You can use their dairy-free butter, too, for the recipe.
Amy’s Frozen Macaroni & Cheese is great because all you need is a microwave and patience of about five minutes. It makes it to the top of the list because of pure convenience. They also use Daiya cheese, which is a plus and adds to the familiar great taste. The extra special bonus with frozen dairy-free mac and cheese is that you can quickly turn it into baked dairy-free mac & cheese by putting it into the oven in an oven safe dish. Dare to sprinkle some bread crumbs on top beforehand and you might be amazed with the quality results.
Annie’s Macaroni & Cheese is a product in their line of products that is vegan and dairy-free. It comes with an already cheesy sauce included with the uncooked pasta. This line includes a gluten free option, too.
For some variety you can cook some halal ground beef with tomatoes or in a marinara sauce and add it to your boxed dairy-free mac and cheese of choice. It will become your beef and cheesy mac, beeferoni, mac and cheese with beef, beef chili mac and cheese without the beans, etc (or whatever is your preferred name for the dish). It all adds up to tasty halal food for the allergic foodie.
Eid ul Adha is synonomous with several things, but it is most notably associated with lamb. Eid ul Adha literally translates into the celebration of the sacrifice (referring to the sacrifice that Ibrahim a.s. almost made with his son). If you have celebrated this holiday, you will have purchased a whole halal lamb that was slaughtered the day of Eid. Presumably you have given a third of the lamb meat to the needy, a third of the lamb meat for friends and extended family, and the keep the remaining third of the lamb meat for yourself. Wherever you get your 1/3 lamb, that portion is still a nice amount of lamb.
Lamb meat not going away anytime soon? Want to diversify the menu while not quickly getting tired lamb? Here are some lamb dishes (dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free, seafood-free) to add to your menu while your lamb supply is high:
Lamb and chickpea curry – This recipe uses dairy-free coconut milk.
Dibi sogo – This simple lamb meat and onions meal is without the yogurt marinade and can be paired with anything or eaten alone.
Lamb chops ratatouille – This classic lamb chop recipe is made to look like an expensive restaurant style meal at home.
Rosemary and garlic lamb shoulder with mashed vegetables – Make sure to check out how to make dairy-free mashed veggies.
Parsi salli boti – This recipe doesn’t skimp on the variety of spices and the nice surprise is the dried apricot!