Whole Story

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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

Sarah says …

Thank you for this great article! I also cannot wait to try the delicious date recipe! Thank you for this! Much appreciated!

Sumera says …

I did not know Whole Foods provided halal options! Now that I know I will definitely pay the extra money to buy from Whole Foods.

moawia says …

I love the fact that Whole Foods, is actually caring about Ramadan, for that reason, I will actually start shopping there. I am also going to try that recipe with the dates looks good

Bunnie Watson says …

Disappointed to hear that Whole Foods has capitulated to a vocal minority that does not believe in the freedom to observe non-Christian religious practices in America. Your excellent, open-minded postings have now been neutralized by your decision not to promote halal foods for Ramadan. Expect to hear from many of us customers at Christmas and Easter when you connect your product offerings to those holy days. Liberty and tolerance should not be sublimated to whoever shouts the loudest.

Zubin Nur says …

I would like to thank you for giving attention to Ramadan, infact I applaud you for doing so. Thank you for the article, for the recipes and generally THANK YOU for great products too. Zubin Nur

K Ahmed says …

Thanks Yvonne for the lovely article. And especially to highlight that Ramadan is a gift and not a burden. Thanks Whole Foods for all the halal options!

Shaheen says …

Great article :)

Reem Abou says …

Great article makes the writer deserve a show with her name to represent the Halal food, which is actually a healthy food style also ;)

Shanna says …

A big thanks to Whole Foods for recognizing that there are many American Muslims who go virtually unnoticed in the business world. I am already a customer and after reading this article I will be even more likely to shop at Whole Foods.

IMA says …

This sounds delicious but I am on a low fat diet. Do you think this will work with yogurt instead of creme fraiche?

says …

@Ima Good suggestion! It really depends on your taste buds. Often times yogurt, especially thick, creamy Greek yogurt is a great substitution for other creamy ingredients and provides a great deal of protein and flavor while avoiding some fat and calories. I've used Greek yogurt in place of creme fraiche before and found it to be a great substitution!

Richard says …

CS, Moiz, and Bunnie - I too was initially concerned but this appears to be a ReTweets gone mad, Please see this article: http://www.theatlanticwire.com/national/2011/08/how-whole-foods-got-accused-of-caving-to-bigots/41035/

Sarah H says …

Whole Foods, your support of Ramadan is very much appreciated! Yvonne, this is a lovely article; will check out your blog. Ramadan Mubarak - may it be a blessed time for you and your families.

Munwar says …

Great Tips for Ramadan!

Julia says …

Ramadan Mubarak! Looking forward to trying the recipe :)

Ed Pickett says …

Just read that you caved, and no longer mention Ramadan: :: http://blogs.houstonpress.com/eating/2011/08/whole_foods_we_should_not_high.php I can't tell you how disappointed I am. What I can say is that you've lost a customer.

Uzma Ahmad says …

Although I am relieved that Whole Foods did not send out an e-mail to their operating units instructing them not to reference Ramadan, I'd respectfully point out that characterizing the issue as isolated to one operating unit is not an adequate response. Whole Foods has one board of directors, a CEO who extols the importance of having a corporate 'culture of love and care' and a commitment to community citizenship. Please consider diversity training for your management at the operating level. A customer complaint that is driven by racism or prejudice must be critically evaluated by management before acting on it!

Amna Kamal says …

What a lovely article. Thank you Yvonne and thank you Whole Foods for sharing this perspective on the beautiful, holy month of Ramadan. I shop at Whole Foods once in a while since my local store is about half an hour away. But you will see a lot more of me in the future. Happy Ramadan everyone!

Mk says …

Great article Yvonne! So happy to see how you have captured the real meaning of Ramadan! It's great to see how Whole foods is retailing halal foods! We will definitely be trying these new items:) keep up the great work. Ramadan Mubarak!

Shemma says …

Love that WholeFoods is selling Halaal foods for the month of Ramadan - but it sure would be great if they could continue beyond this month - including selling halaal meats. I didn't read that this was going to be an ongoing thing. I am not Muslim, but have lots of Muslim friends and like to serve them halaal foods when they come to visit.

Barbara M. says …

Thank you Whole Foods, Whole Story and Yvonne Miffel. You have made sun shine on my gray Seattle morning. Loved the information sharing on what Ramadan is and how Muslims feel about it. I am not affilisted with this religion but I hope you have started a trend to shine light on the positive aspects of the Muslim community. The date recipe is fantastic.

Kim says …

I left this comment on the woman's blog who had comments against this...sorry...just said there that I am very impressed you didn't cave in to all the bigotry out there. I am not Muslim, just a plain white redneck...I am so tired of all the bigotry in this country. Good job, guys...

Subie says …

Thank you! For including us!!!! I have never been to WholeFoods, but after seeing this I will definitely buy from there!!

Sarah H says …

Really happy to see this !!!

Hope says …

Thank you Whole Foods Market for opening the eyes of many and helping others to celebrate their culture. It is sad that many people are blinded by the word Muslim. Your store's are providing food and recipes for many cultures & religions. All cultures & religions make specific foods to celebrate their holidays. I'm not Muslim but I know in my own home certain holiday dishes are make because of ethnic and religious tradition. I personally look forward to trying the recipe in your article. I learned something new just by reading it.

David says …

I have to take exception with how you are dealing with the issue of Halal foods and the Ramadan holiday. While I'm Jewish, I have to stand up to your lack of cultural sensitivity towards to Muslims. A corporation's obligation to the community is not only about sales, profits and folding to the intolerance of a few within the majority-- we have to only look back a few decades in human history to see where this can lead. You have a strong moral reputation and I would encourage you to rethink your recent actions. While your headquarters may not have sent orders to treat Muslims as second class citizens, it is still your obligation to reverse one of your region's actions and to make clear that this will not be tolerated. May I respectfully suggest that you immediately send a communication to your stores to put up a display promoting Ramadan foods, much as many stores do during the Jewish High Holidays and Passover. It is said that we must all stand up for each other when our rights are trespassed upon, for if it is left to happen to one group, then no group is ultimately safe from bigotry and intolerance.

M. Yousuf says …

Thank you for the Ramadan Special and Thank you for standing by your Muslim Consumers. Thank you Whole Foods for continuing your support by carrying Halal Food options in your stores.

FJ says …

Love this article!

Sadaf says …

Sorry.. meant to say thanks for a great article Whole Foods!!

Sadaf says …

I love the work you do and your articles are of great benefit... looking fwd to the giveaways! Thanks for a wonderful food Whole Foods!

LM says …

Great suggestions and I'm looking forward to trying out that date recipe!

FF says …

The writer of this post introduced me to Whole Foods Market and today is gonna be my first visit. Excited and looking forward to it!!

Roxana S. says …

Food and it's role in our life takes on a special meaning during Ramadan as beginning and breaking our fast each day helps makes us more open to meaningful reflection. One of my favorite memories is that of my friend who introduced me to Islam. I remember eating at her house one evening and was about to empty my leftovers into the trash when she asked me with all sincerity and solemnity "You really can't finish that food? Don't you know that when you throw food out, it cries?" At the time I didn't know if this was a saying from her country or from her religious beliefs. Yvonne Maffei embodies this spirit of the moral & spiritual implications of food through her work & I am so happy & proud she wrote this article for WF's.

AA says …

I've loved WholeFoods before, and now even more so for putting up this article and arranging the giveaways during Ramadan! As always, Yvonne has captured the essence of Ramadan very eloquently! =)

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!

Allison B says …

@Rizwan Uquili, Currently our selection of halal meat is very small and available in just a couple of regions. We suggest contacting your local Whole Foods Market store to see what halal options are available: http://wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/

bene says …

I am welcoming Ramadan and look forward to shopping at Whole Foods..

lei says …

Big thanks to Whole Foods (where I shop for organic produce) and Yvonne Maffei (who inspired me to eat organic)! Love you both! :)

neli says …

Hi Yvonne! Congrats!!! Let me know when you want to give a food presentation for our culinary arts students for Ramadan at A Safe Haven Foundation! We'd love to have you!!

Loren Gaffin says …

Very informative blog entry. I work with several Muslims in my office and am always fascinated about aspects of their religion! I will trying the date recipe this upcoming weekend after I visit Whole Foods on Thursday evening!

Nadia says …

Thank you Whole Foods for offering halal options and running this Ramadan campaign. I know as a community we are extremely delighted to finally be recognized. ALthough I've always shopped at Whole Foods you can be sure that I'm a loyal customer! And thank you My Halal Kitchen for a great article!

amna says …

Finally some decent halal food at a major grocery store! It's been long over due! Bye bye trader joe's i'm going to wholefoods now!

amna says …

Finally some decent halal food at a major grocery store! It's been long over due! I've been a loyal trader joe's customer for a long time but perhaps its time to change loyalties!

Sayeeda Yasmin says …

Great article. Food for the soul and the body. It's great that Whole Foods Market and My Halal Kitchen have collaborated and am sure it will be a truly fruitful and highly resourceful association for th entire community. Really appreciate the initiative of Whole foods Market to include Ramadan in their media platform and thank u Yvonne once again for a job WELL DONE. Keep up the good work!

Yvonne says …

Thank you to everyone who commented here and is so supportive of this collaboration. It's great for all of us, indeed! Ramadan Mubarak!

Omar M says …

Awesome stuff. thanks and I love shopping at whole foods :)

AZ says …

Wholefoods just gained a loyal customer in me. I'll have to drive quite a ways, but they deserve my business after this promotion.

Rizwan Uqaili says …

Love the blog. It's great to feature Ramadan here. Perhaps I should make the drive to Whole Foods more often!! Question for Whole Foods - do you actually feature Halal meats & chicken ? Thanks.

N.Ali says …

Thanks for all the thoughtful info. Excellent gonna try the date recipe on my sister, Amira. :)

Mona says …

Yvonne! What a great blog! I can't wait to read your daily thoughts and recipes. This is a great idea by Whole Foods and much appreciated! Have a great Ramadan! I can't wait to try the Creme Fraiche dates!!

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