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Preparing for Ramadan

Yvonne Maffei is a food writer, recipe developer and publisher of www.MyHalalKitchen.com, a blog showcasing culinary tips and healthy halal recipes. Throughout the month of Ramadan she’ll be hosting giveaways for Whole Foods Market gift cards and Saffron Road coupons on her blog. Here, Yvonne shares the purpose and traditions of Ramadan and how she celebrates this holy month. Ramadan is fast approaching, and I’m getting my kitchen ready for a month of celebration with my family and community.  In case you’re not familiar with Ramadan, it is an incredibly important holy month for Muslims. For us, it is a time of reflection — a time to develop compassion for those who live with hunger and thirst as a way of life, and to do something to help them. It’s a time to practice self-control and willpower in the face of numerous temptations; and to purify one’s self by taking time to focus on character and purpose. During the month of Ramadan, many Muslims fast between dawn and sunset. Since the fast is not for a full 24 hours, we still eat twice a day — suhoor, a meal eaten before the sun begins to rise and iftar, the meal that breaks the fast at sunset. In my home, we typically start the day with a hearty, healthy breakfast that has lots of protein: eggs, beans and meats. We avoid carbs and sugary foods since our next meal is 15 hours away, and the last thing we need is a sugar crash! The iftar often starts light, with soup or an appetizer, to transition from the fast. A cherished tradition of Muslims around the world is to break the fast by eating fresh dates. Here’s a simple way I add a fresh spin on the date tradition. I prefer to use Medjool dates because they’re thick and meaty and easy to stuff. Dates with Crème Fraiche, Pistachios and Lemon Zest

3 large Medjool dates 9 whole roasted almonds 3 tablespoons crème fraiche Lemon or orange zest Several pistachios, roughly chopped

(I show how to make crème fraiche and how to preserve citrus peels on my blog, My Halal Kitchen.)

  1. Wash and dry the dates. Make a clean cut to open the date and remove any pits.
  2. Stuff each date with 3 whole almonds and close it gently with your fingers.
  3. On a plate or platter, arrange the dates nicely in a row.  Dollup the creme fraiche on top of each one. Finish with lemon or orange zest and chopped pistachios.
  4. Serve at room temperature. Serves 3.
Whole Foods Market has been integral to the meal planning I do for Ramadan.  As a bonus to the organic and natural foods, there are so many items I feel comfortable using because they’re either halal-certified (like Saffron Road’s frozen entrees, chicken products and new broths) or they’re alcohol-free, such as some of the flavored extracts commonly used in baking. This makes my life a whole lot easier. If you’d like to try these offerings out too, every Wednesday during Ramadan (which falls right around the month of August) I’ll be giving away a $100 Whole Foods Market gift card and coupons for five delicious frozen entrees from Saffron Road on my blog My Halal Kitchen. You can also check my blog throughout the month for tips on organizing your Ramadan feast, additional recipe suggestions and more. As for me, I plan to invite some friends to break the fast with me at least once during Ramadan. I view this opportunity as an offering of food and friendship and a chance to bond at the special moment when we’re finally able to put something in our mouths and savor it with those we care about. My guests usually don’t stay long, though, as there are evening prayers at the mosque that everyone wants to attend. To eat and run after iftar is totally acceptable in Ramadan! Ramadan is a special time and we see it as a gift, not a burden. We’re happy to fast and happy to enjoy the foods we’re blessed to put on our table.  Many people like to make their family’s favorite foods during the month of Ramadan, perhaps because when one breaks the fast, the food is just so much more appreciated than any other time of year. I also think it tastes better, maybe because I’m hungry by the time I eat iftar, but more likely it’s because during Ramadan I’m reminded that food is a miracle and that nothing as sacred as food should ever be taken for granted. What’s on your shopping list at Whole Foods Market this Ramadan?

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97 comments

Comments

Rebeca says …

I always used to drive past Whole Foods on my way to Trader Joe's, and never thought twice about it. Whole Foods just earned my respect, and of course, a loyal customer. Thanks for recognizing Ramadan!

Shane says …

This is so great! Keep up the good work!

Ikram says …

Thanks so much for the great blog and for recognizing your Muslim customers. Hope to see more Halal products in your stores in the future. Keep up the great work and I'll certainly be shopping at your store more often!

servioedit says …

this is a delicious and amazing blog congratulation.

CurlyHairDay says …

I enjoy learning about religious and cultural traditions, and the food angle is unique in that we can, fairly easily, try out new customs. Very interesting article. Appreciating food is vital for all of us and the author's tone is reverent while remaining accessible.

RA says …

Thanks for suggesting a refreshing new twist on some age old Ramadan traditions. I am really excited to try some of your halal food options. Thanks for all the great ideas on this Ramadan blog. Please keep up the good work!

Sarah says …

I will have to visit Whole Foods more often now that I know I can buy Halal Food. Thank you for making it easier for us :)

Zaufishan says …

This is great! Always a fan of halal recipes and eco-blogging, I really enjoy Yvonne's take on multicultural celebrations and food. I tried the medjool dates with orange zest: l-o-v-e-d it! Ramadan blessings to all viewers and Eid Mubarak from England. The Eco Muslim (:

R H says …

Salaam! Juat loved your article and so happy to be celebrating Ramadan with three Whole foods in our Area. As a member of the board of the local mosque and Eid festival organizer, I have requested Cupertino Whole foods to be part of our Ramadan and Eid celebrations. We will be posting your article and our local store info on our list to go support them. Let's encourage our multicultural community members from WVMA, www.wvmuslim.org to share their favorite Ramadan food recipes with you!

Debra Zafarullah says …

I've always loved Whole Foods, but now I love it a million times more. Yvonne, I cant wait to try out the recipe, THANKS! I fell in love with your blog as well:)

Tam says …

Great idea and marketing campaign for Whole Foods. Looking forward to visiting this blog during the month of Ramadan. Insha-Allah. Thank you!!!

Sara Soltan says …

I just did my Ramadan shopping at Whole Foods. It's so important to me to get organic, sustainable, and if possible also halal options. I get something from all of these categories at Whole Foods. Thanks!

Jenny says …

This is awesome. I'm a christian and don't celebrate Ramadan, but I totally appreciate what it stands for and love the way you explain it. Also, those dates? I'm hungry just looking at them!

Aya says …

Soup, samosas, dates (of course), milk and your delicious tilapia and shrimp! Thanks for a great post and for the Ramadan campaign, makes me want to go to Whole Foods right now!

Maria says …

Beautiful article...I love Ramadan! Thank you Whole Foods for introducing us to such great halal products during Ramadan.

Amin Aaser says …

Whole Foods, you've created a new customer for life. Born and raised in a country that prides itself in its freedom of equality irrespective of gender, race, or creed, living in the United States as a Muslim-American has been more challenging now than at any point in recent history. Your recognizing me, and joining into one of the most celebrated times of the year, means more than any amount of product that I could purchase. Thanks. You've earned a customer for life out of me. Amin

abida says …

wonderful...the date recipe looks delicious. thanks.

N Castillo says …

I am a fan of Halal, and you can't find that at an average grocery chain. I love that Whole Foods Market celebrates so many cultures and values by welcoming such products and articles!

Mansoor says …

Very timely article - thank you Whole Foods for promoting Ramadan! You gained a customer today.

MZ says …

Thank you for a great article. Now we have an additional reason to go to Whole Foods! Thank you Whole Foods for celebrating Ramadan with us!

Meme says …

Love this article

Kismet says …

As a young upper-middle class professional female with a small child at home(i.e. an interest in organic/healthy living and the means to do so) - I fall into a demographic that Whole Foods is after. I am also a Muslim and let me just tell you how EXCITED I am that Whole Foods is participating in this campaign. Thank you for the recognition for this community and this holiday. Although I typically favor my locally-owned grocers, you've now earned yourself a loyal customer in me. I greatly look forward to the possibility of an expansion of this campaign in the future - perhaps to include in-store promotion as well?

Margaret says …

NO meantion of Easter, Christmas or any Christian holiday...Passover and Fourth of July?????? Come on folks...give the Christians a break. Respect the MAJORITY of your customers.

Mohamed Abd El Aziz says …

Great article, I LOVE It. I live in Redmond, WA area, and I pass by whole food at least once a week. It is a must-stop visit for me now whenever I'll pass by it:)

CS says …

After reading about your email to your stores which stated in part ""We should not highlight Ramadan in signage in our stores as that could be considered 'Celebrating or promoting' Ramadan.", I will no longer support Whole Foods in any way. I do not support the racism and anti-Muslim direction of your company.

Moiz says …

Just when I thought Whole Foods was Muslim friendly... its not: http://blogs.houstonpress.com/eating/2011/08/whole_foods_we_should_not_high.php

Bobby H says …

Hi everyone, We’d like to address the many comments regarding the promotion of halal products in our stores. We are still carrying and promoting halal products for those that are celebrating Ramadan this month. We never sent a communication from our headquarters requesting that stores take down any signs or remove any part of this promotion. We have 12 different operating regions and unfortunately, one region reacted to some negative online comments by sending out directions to promote halal certified foods and not specifically the holiday of Ramadan. We’re extremely excited about offering a selection of halal products for our shoppers and we stand behing them AND our promotion of them.

Ron says …

Wonderful article!

nalini says …

Great article, sorry to read some negative comments to Whole Foods. I'm am not muslim, yet I appreciate that a major food chain has taken the lead on this. This is America and we live here among so many different cultures. Born and Raised here, I learned that being civil,respectful and tolerate has always been core value of our nation. Other food chains recognize the Christian and Jewish holidays and LINE the aisles with sales and commonly used products. Those of you that shop during the holidays experience the rush and chaos in many stores. We know how difficult it is working and maintaining a family as you try to follow your traditions and culture. Most of you probably appreciate that you have access to a store that caters to you by bringing in extra stock, special items and in some cases they fill a entire aisle with certain foods for the occasion. So why not respect Whole Food for doing the same for others. I see it as a convenience for their customers to find the items they use and need for the occasion. We see the same done for 4th of July, Memorial Weekend and Thanksgiving which is non denominational, yet all of us no matter what religion will run to the stores for all these sales. We are Americans and should honor that by acting with tolerance and support. Thank you Whole food for taking the lead on tolerance and support. Happy Holiday to all. PS whole food, I haven't seen anything yet for Hindu's for Diwali and Holy yet,maybe that is to come soon.

Mary Bohm says …

Thanks for letting us understand this important ritual. It is no stranger than meatless Fridays and Lent in my Catholic tradition. Peace

Richard says …

Very Interesting. Thanks for the education on this topic.

Sabiha says …

Great article, Yvonne!

Kari says …

This is great! Finally a major retailer has recognized it's Muslim customers! We will drive an extra 5 miles for groceries to shop at Whole Foods due to this effort on their part. We appreciate this!

wood turtle says …

Excellent article! And yummy. My favourite date combo is with sharp cheddar cheese.

Ayse says …

Certainly will try the date recipe...

Fareha says …

Wonderful article! Thanks Whole Foods for including Ramadan in your blog!

Ameenah Muhammad says …

Yvonne what a wonderful article! I will try this date recipe it sounds delicious. It is wonderful to see retailers such as Whole Foods embracing The blassed month of Ramadhan and their Muslim American Neighbors.

Matthew says …

<strong>Answered by CQ-jj</strong> I am shocked to hear that the executives at Whole Food has succumbed to the demands of few bigots who have no tolerance for other cultures. The actions your executives have come to take in regards to pulling down Ramadan promoting signs from your stores is a pure indication that your executives do not have the strong character to hold such positions and is an indication that they belong to the opposite end of the moral spectrum. Whole Food will lose a large market share of Muslims and Muslim supporters due to your unethical and bigot conduct. I, myself, will ensure that Whole Food suffers the consequences of your bigoted decisions by ensuring that all people boycott your store and products. Thanks to the social networks that have made such task an easy one. I will be visiting Whole Food stores tomorrow, not to shop, but simply to look for Ramadan promoting signs and failure to find any will mark the beginning of an ugly marketing battle against Whole Food. I am extremely disappointed by the weak response and atrocious decisions your executives have taken by pulling "Ramadan" promoting signs.

MRK says …

I went out and bought the Saffron Road entree when I first found out Whole Foods was carrying this halal product last year. It was actually very good! I am a regular whole foods customer (i buy raw honey from Whole Foods, which has the biggest selection of raw honey). I want to commend Whole Foods for stepping up and recognizing a holiday celebrated by a quarter of the world's population! Thanks!

salwa says …

I am so appreciative of Whole Foods supporting halal and organic products! I have been in search of halal chicken broth for years- I will absolutely go out of my way to go to whole foods from now on!

Melinda says …

these are some wonderful ideas to try. Thank you

Eliza says …

Enjoyed the article sister! I enjoy cooking so much more during Ramadan and my husband certainly appreciates all the 'special' food I prepare. Will definitely try the date recipe you posted as this is how we usually break our fast.

Islam says …

A big thanks to Whole Foods for recognizing that there are many American Muslims who go virtually unnoticed in the business world.

Beula Quigley says …

Nothing against the article, but I disagree with a couple of points to some extenct. I'm probably a minority though, lol. Thanks for sharing.

Dilman Yasin says …

I came across your blog and website via pinterest.. and I am so glad that I did!! I am a fellow Muslim and am excited to be spending it making foods every day to break our fast. This is my first year as a maried couple living on our own and not having to rely on mother or mother in law. So I am always looking to find different foods and options.And I LOVE Whole Foods!!! All of their selection and variety is very helpful.

Victor Sanchez says …

This is great news. I am sure that after I tell the people in my mosque they will love to go shopping at Wholefood during and after Ramadan for some good halal food. Thank you for this big step .

Mira8 says …

I don't understand - there are so many articles about halal and Ramadan - which is great - why are they being accused of being bigots?

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