The Holy Month of Ramadan

Ramadan represents the goodness, grace and the entire blessings of Allah.

Shia Wisdom

Once again the Holy Month of Ramadan is upon us and Muslims around the globe will enter a spiritual journey toward their creator by fasting and devoting an entire month to whatever gratifies their Almighty Lord. The 185th verse of Quran’s 2nd chapter states: “The month of Ramadan, in which the Quran was revealed. A guidance for people and clear proof of guidance and criterion.”

The entire month of Ramadan has been defined and labeled as month of guidance, as the blessings of Allah are poured on his subjects around the clock. During this month, any movement, action, deed, hint or even good intention of a believer is rewarded with blessings and considered as worship. The Holy Month of Ramadan equalizes the sense of need among all believer, regardless of their social and economic class. Whether poor or wealthy, elite or random citizen, men or women, everyone will experience the pain and sufferings of those less fortunate. Continue reading The Holy Month of Ramadan

Products ingredients & Islamic laws

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

One of the ongoing problems for majority of Muslims living in the west, is the issue of ingredients of products consumed during everyday life, as Muslims are obligated to assure these products don’t contain anything taken from animals or alcoholic ingredients.  It might seem that due to this obligation, Islam has placed a heavy burden on the shoulder of its followers, since majority of products in the west contain such ingredients, which means this law makes it hard for Muslims to live an easy life.

Quran’s 24th verse of chapter 80 states: “Then let mankind look (watch) his food”. The notion of watching the things that we eat goes beyond the physical aspects of human body, as every single product we consume has a certain effect and impact on our characteristics and personality as well. For instance, there are numerous narration by Prophet Mohammad about eating Fish only on Wednesdays or Fridays, or refraining from eating and drinking while in washroom. Other narrations by the Prophet, suggest eating Camel’s meat has spiritual and characteristics effects on humans, as Camel is known to be an honorable animal. It is known in Arabia and other places, where Camels are found, these animals are very private and secretive, when it comes to their private life, where they tend to hide from public, if they want to unite, they choose a place, where no one is able to see. Therefore, eating the meat of this animal is believed to increase this sense of a human’s behavior and characteristic.

Nonetheless, the responsibility to watch the ingredients of all products is linked to the physical aspect of human’s anatomy and his/her spiritual and behavioral characteristics. In addition, this obligation is a jurisprudential responsibility like any other notion during every day conducts, consumption, interactions and proceedings.

Ingredients produced from animal body

The consumption of any product that contains ingredients from animals is only prohibited and ruled as forbidden or what Islamic law calls ‘Haram’, when the animal was not slaughtered according to Islamic law. This notion obviously applies to the consumption of beef and lamb as well, which means Muslims are only allowed to consume the meat of an animal that was killed according to the Islamic rule. The notion of eating an animal that was killed according to the laws of Islamic jurisprudence is similar to the law followed by Jews, where they only eat kosher meat that was killed according to Jewish law. Therefore, if a product contains ingredients taken from animals killed according to Islamic law, the consumption of these products is totally legit, allowed and acceptable. In addition, it should be noted that any product, which contains ingredients taken from pork is completely prohibited and forbidden, as pork is one of the primary prohibited products in Islam.

The products that can contain ingredients taken from animals are:

  • Cheese (especially cheddar cheese products)
  • Chips (chips with cheddar cheese, beef, chicken, pork flavours)
  • Jellow
  • Gravy (Beef, Chicken, Pork)
  • Cereal Products
  • Salad Dressings
  • Juices
  • Milk Shakes & smoothies
  • Yogurts
  • Packaged and canned food
  • Marshmallow
  • Candies
  • Processed foods
  • Margarine and some pastries

Whether a Muslim, a vegan or someone, who is against any type of animal cruelty, the following ingredients are extracted from animals. However, some of these ingredients are taken from plans and vegetables, which will be the responsibility of the consumer to contact the producers and clarify the source of the ingredients.

  • Lard (This is an ingredients, which is fat taken from the abdomen of pigs)
  • Gelatin (a protein taken from bones, cartilage, tendons and skins of animals)
  • Glucose (animal tissues and fluids. However, some glucose are extracted from fruits)
  • Glycerides (Mono – Di, this ingredient is taken from animal fats and plants)
  • Lactylic Stearate (Salt of stearic acid)
  • Lecithin (Phospholipids, which can be taken from animal tissues, plants and egg yolks)
  • Lutein (Deep yellow coloring from marigolds or egg yolks)
  • Oleic Acid (Animal Tallow)
  • Pepsin (an enzyme taken from pigs stomachs)
  • Stearic Acid (Tallow and other animal fats or oils)
  • Suet (Hard white fats around the kidneys and loins of animals)
  • Tallow (solid fat from ships and cattle separated from membranous tissues)
  • Glycin (taken from Gelatin)
  • Cholic Acid (taken from beef)
  • Riboflavin (since the isolation of this ingredient is very expensive from milk, many producers take this ingredient from organisms, which can be from animals)

In addition, some producers use codes and numbers to disclose the ingredients used in their products, which also becomes the responsibility of consumers to contact producers and determine, whether the ingredients are taken from animal or not. As far as whip cream, frosting and similar products, some contain Vanilla extract, which is believed to contain alcoholic ingredients. Therefore, it would be best to contact the producer of Vanilla Extract and ask them about this matter as well.

The information provided in this article seem to be over whelming and ‘too much’, as some might think, but the benefit of living in the west lays in the ability of accessing the producers and them answering honestly. This issue is not exclusive to Muslims, as there are many individuals and groups, who refrain from any product that contains animalistic ingredients, which becomes the responsibility of all producers to be transparent about their products and their ingredients. Therefore, taking few minutes to contact the producers and making sure the products we consume are ‘Halal’ and legit will help us in many ways beyond our expectations.

The Healthiest Snacks for Busy Kids

By Amanda C. (Contributor)
Edited by Ali Reza

When your kids are active and on the go, you want to make sure that they are eating the right foods to keep their energy up and not crash later. Processed snacks and junk food can give them a quick sugar buzz but it will soon wear off and can leave them dragging. Instead, you want to make sure that your kids have healthy options that will provide them with the vitamins and nutrients they need. A healthy snack can also help carry them through until mealtime.

Here are some ideas for easy snacks that you can take on the go and that are packed with nutrients:

Whole grain cereal: Who says cereal is only for breakfast? It can be a good pick-me-up in the afternoon and the whole grains leave your kids feeling fuller for longer. Keep a small bag or container of cereal in the car, your child’s backpack, or another travel bag so that you have it on hand when hunger strikes. You can even mix a few cereals together for variation.

Fresh fruits and vegetables: This is always a good option. They contain natural sugars but are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients. Prepare produce ahead of time so that when your kids want a snack, it is ready to go. They can grab a handful of grapes or other berries, orange slices, carrot sticks, an apple, or other seasonal produce. To give it an extra kick, offer hummus, peanut butter, yogurt, or ranch dressing as a dip.

Kale or sweet potato chips: If your kids are looking for something crunchy, you can make your own chips from kale or sweet potatoes. They are a healthier option than store-bought chips and taste great. You can season kale with a little sea salt or garlic or try other spices you enjoy. Cinnamon, honey, or brown sugar can add extra flavor to sweet potatoes.

Snack mix: Let your kids help put together a snack mix of their favorite healthy foods. Combine whole grain cereal, dried fruits, nuts, popcorn, pretzels, or other small items. They’ll have fun mixing it up and it offers a variety of different foods in one bag. If you store it in an airtight container, it will last longer and be ready to go when you need it.

Yogurt: Low-fat or non-fat yogurt can be a great option too. Add some fresh fruit such as strawberries or blueberries for additional nutrients. You can also top it with granola. Pour yogurt into popsicle molds and freeze for a healthy alternative to ice cream. You can also freeze containers of yogurt and put them in your child’s lunch box; by the time lunch rolls around, they’ll be defrosted yet still cold.

Oatmeal: Oatmeal can be eaten in many ways. Your kids could have a hot bowl topped with fruit or a little milk as a snack, or you can also use oatmeal in muffins, bars, or cookies. Making them from scratch puts you in more control of what ingredients are used and you can add fresh or dried fruits to change the flavor and increase nutritional value.

These are just a few options for keeping your children’s hunger at bay while boosting their energy. Encourage them to make healthy choices and have a variety of foods available. Limit the amount of junk food that you keep in the house and only eat it as a treat now and then. Look for foods that have protein and whole grains that take longer for the body to break down. This will keep your kids feeling fuller and can help maintain a more stable blood sugar.

Let your kids get involved in making their own snacks and picking out foods they enjoy. Try heading to the farmers market for fresh produce and allowing your children to select new foods they want to try. Eating healthy can be fun and creates lasting habits that your kids can carry with them as they get older.

What’s for Dinner: Quick and Easy Shrimp Pesto

With increasingly busy schedules, it can be challenging to find time to cook a nutritious, homemade meal. Finding fast, easy recipes that everyone will enjoy is key. Shrimp pesto is a great option that is simple to make and only requires a few ingredients. If you’re feeling ambitious and have some extra time you can make your own pesto, otherwise you can use premade pesto from the store. Many of the ingredients you may already have in your pantry or refrigerator. Not only is this a quick option for family dinner nights, it makes a great meal for dinner parties as well.

Ingredients:

 

  • 6 cups of water
  • 4 ounces of angel hair pasta
  • 1 ¼ pounds of large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ¼ cup pesto, divided
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ounce (1/4 cup) fresh parmesan cheese, shaved
  • Basil leaves for garnish (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Cook the angel hair pasta according to the directions on the back of the package. Prepare to desired tenderness.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, use a separate pan to bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add shrimp and cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until done. The shrimp should be pink throughout. Drain shrimp and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of pesto and the grape tomatoes to the shrimp and stir.
  4. Add pasta and 2 more tablespoons of pesto, stirring until well mixed.
  5. Sprinkle the freshly shaved parmesan cheese on top and garnish with basil leaves if desired.

Shrimp are a nutritious source of protein that are low in calories and contain no carbohydrates. In addition, they are high in vitamin B12 and contain vitamins A and E, iron, magnesium, and other nutrients as well. While some people are concerned about the high cholesterol found in shrimp, when eaten in moderation they can be okay, and some studies have shown this cholesterol may not be that bad.

Making your Own Pesto

If you don’t want to use premade pesto, you can whip up a fresh batch on your own. However, to make pesto you do need a food processor.

Ingredients:

 

  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, chopped (about 9 cloves)
  • 5 cups of fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

 

Add the walnuts, pine nuts, and garlic to the food processor and process for approximately 15 seconds. Next add the basil, salt, and pepper until well mixed. Leave the food processor running and slowly add the olive oil through the feed tube. Let it keep mixing until the contents are well pureed. Finally add the parmesan cheese and continue pureeing for one minute. You should have a fresh, creamy pesto bursting with flavor and ready for use in your pasta dish. To store the excess pesto, pour a thin layer of olive oil on top and keep it in the refrigerator. To freeze, add a layer of olive oil or press plastic wrap on top making sure there is no air trapped between the layers.

Enjoy as a Family

A delicious meal can bring the whole family together. Take this time to talk about your day, discuss upcoming events, and enjoy each other’s company. Having a variety of quick and easy recipes on hand also means that children can lend a hand with preparations. Let them get involved so that they grow their cooking skills and are proud of the contributions that they are making. This can also become something special that you do together.

Remember that preparing a delicious meal does not have to take a lot of time. There are many healthy, flavorful, quick recipes that you can add to your collection and that your family will love.