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
- Wash and dry the dates. Make a clean cut to open the date and remove any pits.
- Stuff each date with 3 whole almonds and close it gently with your fingers.
- 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.
- Serve at room temperature. Serves 3.