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Preparing for Ramadan

By Yvonne Maffei, July 27, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Yvonne Maffei
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?
Category: Food & Recipes




FJ says ...
Love this article!
07/27/2011 3:43:41 PM CDT
LM says ...
Great suggestions and I'm looking forward to trying out that date recipe!
07/27/2011 4:26:36 PM CDT
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!!
07/27/2011 4:29:12 PM CDT
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!
07/27/2011 4:30:02 PM CDT
Sadaf says ...
Sorry.. meant to say thanks for a great article Whole Foods!!
07/27/2011 4:30:49 PM CDT
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.
07/27/2011 5:05:03 PM CDT
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!
07/27/2011 6:04:49 PM CDT
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! =)
07/27/2011 7:08:53 PM CDT
Richard says ...
Very Interesting. Thanks for the education on this topic.
07/27/2011 7:48:11 PM CDT
Sabiha says ...
Great article, Yvonne!
07/27/2011 8:40:35 PM CDT
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!
07/27/2011 8:51:30 PM CDT
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!
07/27/2011 8:51:43 PM CDT
Shaheen says ...
Great article :)
07/28/2011 6:11:15 AM CDT
wood turtle says ...
Excellent article! And yummy. My favourite date combo is with sharp cheddar cheese.
07/28/2011 9:02:25 AM CDT
Fareha says ...
Wonderful article! Thanks Whole Foods for including Ramadan in your blog!
07/28/2011 12:22:49 PM CDT
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 ;)
07/28/2011 2:37:42 PM CDT
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.
07/28/2011 4:28:35 PM CDT
bene says ...
I am welcoming Ramadan and look forward to shopping at Whole Foods..
07/28/2011 7:14:08 PM CDT
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! :)
07/28/2011 7:54:45 PM CDT
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!!
07/29/2011 8:06:54 AM CDT
Omar M says ...
Awesome stuff. thanks and I love shopping at whole foods :)
07/29/2011 10:37:00 AM CDT
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.
07/29/2011 11:52:07 AM CDT
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!
07/29/2011 12:47:14 PM CDT
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!
07/29/2011 1:47:25 PM CDT
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.
07/29/2011 2:58:44 PM CDT