The Protein-Bursting Salad to Replace your Meal Replacements

by Noor H. Salem

I’ve found that it’s extremely common for many to turn to protein drinks and bars to replace their meals; many of my clients have attested to trying this. However, I advise that you avoid these processed protein bars and drinks completely if you’re truly seeking a healthy lifestyle. The majority of these store-bought drinks and meal replacement bars are not only heavily processed but are full of genetically engineered ingredients and artificial sweeteners. Consuming a snack bar instead of eating a complete lunch will not only keep you feeling hungry and deprived, but this routine will not work in the long run. Instead of filling your diet with bars and drinks, keeping you hungry and unnourished, consume a healthy whole-food lunch. This could be a kale salad with nuts and grilled chicken, or a homemade tuna sandwich on good-ingredient bread.

Eating meals high in protein will not only keep you satisfied longer but will provide your body with nutrients and energy that no snack bar could duplicate. Try this delicious and very simple salad, bursting with proteins, healthy fats, fiber, and a number of sunnah foods I cover in my book, Sunnah Superfoods. This recipe is vegan, but if you’re big on meat, feel free to add pieces of chicken or meat for an added burst of protein. It’s very quick and easy to make and will taste great the next day as your lunch.

Chickpeas, also known as Garbanzo beans, are extremely high in protein, fiber, folate, manganese, iron, zinc, and copper. Chickpeas are full of insoluble fiber, thus aiding your digestive tract in getting rid of waste, and it reduces the risk of colon cancer. Chickpeas are great for your heart, too! They have been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease when consumed in one’s diet often. Chickpeas, along with other beans, do great in balancing your blood sugar. That’s one reason why you don’t feel cravings after eating a good amount of beans—they balance your blood sugar. Best of all, beans are very filling. They will definitely keep you satisfied much longer than any processed and sugary protein bar can. They taste delicious and are extremely healthy, too.

Pomegranate, one of the Sunnah Superfoods I discuss thoroughly in my book, gives this salad a sweet and tart taste. Their color gives the salad a wonderful touch, and their flavor cannot compare. Pomegranate is very high in Vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and potassium.

The carrots add a nice crunch to the salad, as well as Vitamin A and beta-carotene. Carrots are also high in fiber, biotin, Vitamin K, and potassium. Green onions give this salad the perfect flavor but are much more subtle than what white onions would do. Green onions are not just for garnish but are a good source of magnesium, thiamin, and vitamin K. The avocado provides this salad with healthy fats giving you, even more, satiety after eating it. Avocados are very high in fiber and many other nutrients. The extra virgin olive oil, one of my favorite Sunnah foods, adds a delicious taste and aroma. Extra virgin olive oil is healthy for almost every organ in the body; from heart health benefits to digestive tract benefits, I recommend olive oil in the kitchen of every client and friend. The apple cider vinegar gives a bit of a tart

The extra virgin olive oil, one of my favorite Sunnah foods, adds a delicious taste and aroma. Extra virgin olive oil is healthy for almost every organ in the body; from heart health benefits to digestive tract benefits, I recommend olive oil in the kitchen of every client and friend. The apple cider vinegar gives a bit of a tart taste and adds digestive benefits too. The lemon juice aids in maximizing the tart taste and adds a ton of Vitamin C to the nutritional value. I recommend you only use freshly squeezed lemon juice, and avoid shelf-stable versions full of preservatives and chemicals.

All of the spices in this salad not only add zest but come with health benefits, too. Ginger aids in digestion, has cognitive health benefits, heart health benefits, and anti-inflammatory benefits. Feel free to add other spices of your preference, like cumin, ground onion, garlic powder, rosemary, or cilantro. Try this salad instead of meal replacement drinks and bars, and see how your body will not only feel satisfied and nourished but happy. It’s a great start to a healthy new lifestyle; take the initiative today.


  • 2 cups chickpeas
  • 1 pomegranate (remove the seeds)
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon organic apple cider vinegar, raw
  • ¼ cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan Pink Salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1 tablespoon dill
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground mustard seed


  1. Place the chickpeas in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the pomegranate seeds, carrots, green onions and mix.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the extra virgin olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and all of the spices. Mix well until incorporated.
  4. Add the dressing to the chickpeas; toss until mixed.
  5. Transfer the salad to a mixing bowl. Top with the chopped avocadoes. Best if served chilled.

Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, Sunnah Superfoods, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.


Scrumptious Sauerkraut: A Probiotic Bursting Food

by Noor H. Salem

While discussing numerous tips to begin the new year on a healthy note, I advise adding probiotics to your diet. Probiotics are good, live bacteria. Our bodies need this good bacterium in order to build a balanced gut flora. Consuming a diet high in probiotics is especially helpful in easing digestion, reducing the risk of food allergies, and preventing sickness. Unfortunately, today, many people are overconsuming antibiotics, not realizing that when killing the bad bacteria, they are also destroying all the good bacteria in their system. Even if you are not sick, and you haven’t taken antibiotics in the past; probiotics will help keep you healthy in so many ways!

Sauerkraut is also a wonderful food to include if you are aiming to build immunity holistically. I recommend it to my clients, along with other high probiotics foods like kefir and natural yogurts. It tastes great beside your brown rice and salmon or atop your chicken and vegetable salad at lunch. Sauerkraut has the delicious tart taste of pickles, without all of the added sodium and preservatives. Although many stores sell sauerkraut in the pickle aisle, the majority is not full of the live bacteria we need. That’s why I advise you either buy a refrigerated version or simply make this recipe at home. I enjoy making different flavors, sometimes adding a bit of pepper for spice, turmeric, and other times even fresh ginger. Ginger has a myriad of health benefits, which I cover in my book, Sunnah Superfoods. Ginger also aids in digestion, which would pair well with cabbage. You can also add a few whole black peppercorns for a kick in flavor. Get creative; there are so many flavors you can make.


1 medium sized green cabbage head
1 tablespoon Himalayan Pink Salt (you may use unrefined Celtic sea salt)
1 cup water and extra Himalayan Pink Salt (may or may not be used)
2-3 mason jars (16 ounce works well)
1. Shred the cabbage into very thin slices; place into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the pink salt. Use your hands to squeeze the cabbage while mixing it around. Continue this until water starts coming out of the cabbage.
3. Place some of the cabbage in a glass mason jar and squeeze down with a fork. Add some of the liquid. Continue adding the cabbage until you fill up the jar.
4. If there’s enough liquid to cover the top of the cabbage, mix the water and extra salt and pour until the cabbage is submerged in it. This may fill about 3 16-ounce mason jars.
5. Close the lids very well, and keep them on your countertop.
6. Open the jars and check the cabbage after three days; if the liquid went down and the cabbage is showing, add a bit more of salt water (mix water with salt), enough to cover.
7. The sauerkraut should be done within 10 days. Remove it off the counter and place it in the refrigerator for best preservation.
8. Enjoy it with salad, chicken, and any other entrée you like.

Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, Sunnah Superfoods, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.


Wawa-Wee organic fruit syrups combine taste, health and charity


By Mahvish Irfan

TMO Contributing Writer

Nadia Khan, a 35-year-old mother of four home-schooled children between the ages of 3-12, was looking for a way to make cow’s milk palatable for her youngest son whom she had just weaned from nursing.

Fed up with finding nothing but unhealthy junk from big brands in the grocery stores, including Hershey’s and Nestle’s syrups that were full of high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, preservatives, and colors, and yet contained no real fruit, Nadia decided to make her own organic syrup.

She stopped by the local farmers’ market, purchased a few cartons of organic strawberries, came home, looked up a recipe online, tweaked it to her taste, and proceeded to boil and strain the strawberries, adding organic sugar in the end.

Her strawberry syrup became a sensation amongst family and friends. Everyday, her son kept asking for “wawa-wee,” his way of pronouncing “strawberry,” and she found great encouragement from others to start producing professionally. After all there was nothing else like it in the market, and in less than two years, Wawa-Wee organic strawberry, peach and blueberry syrups were born.

The Muslim Observer sat down with Nadia to discuss her journey turning her homemade syrups into a business venture, the many lessons she learned along the way, and the process of trying to hit the shelves of gourmet grocery stores like Whole Foods.

Did you ever think you’d be where you are today? What are some surprising things you’ve learned in this journey?

It’s really exciting to see an idea that I played around with in our home kitchen develop into an actual high quality food product ready for retail shelves. We’ve hired a licensed co-packer to manufacture for us, we’ve obtained our permits from the California Health Department, our organic certification, and set up our social purpose corporation. There were some surprising things I learned along the way. When I first started, I envisioned selling a product that would be identical to the one I made at home. I quickly learned that no large-scale manufacturers had the facilities to wash, chop and boil fresh fruit and then strain it. That would simply be too labor intensive and cost prohibitive.

I had to hire an experienced food chemist to convert my home recipe into what’s called a “manufacturer’s formula.” For large-scale food production, the primary concern is always food safety and shelf life.  How long before my food product would start to degrade? My food chemist warned me that as the syrups sat on store shelves over a period of months, they would lose their fruit taste and begin to taste like sugar water. Hence the addition of natural flavors. Natural flavors are added to products to maintain freshness and flavor throughout their shelf life. There are food scientists called “flavorists” who identify the naturally occurring chemicals in fruits that give them their smell and taste, and then they create concentrated versions of those tastes and aromas. The source of natural flavors, as opposed to the source of artificial flavors, has to be something derived from “nature.” That’s not always comforting. In my research, I learned that the most common source of strawberry flavor comes from a gland in a beaver’s butt! I refused to negotiate on the “cleanness” of my ingredients. I wanted my syrup to be something Muslims, Kosher-keeping Jews, vegetarians, even vegans would be comfortable consuming. I obtained letters from the suppliers of the natural flavors used in my syrups stating that they are all vegan—not derived from any animal by-products. Another consideration was color: I discovered that strawberry concentrate actually has a brownish tone rather than the bright red hue consumers have come to expect, so I was going to have to add some sort of color to the syrup. One common source of red coloring is from a certain species of crushed red beetle. I wasn’t too keen on that! The source of my natural color is purple carrot juice.

Making a premium-ingredient organic product is not cheap. The reason Hershey’s, Nestles and these other companies can sell their syrups so cheap is that their number one ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, which is a lot cheaper, and more destructive to health, than organic cane sugar, and their fruit taste comes from nothing but artificial flavors and colors. There’s not a hint of real strawberry in it! I didn’t want to make that type of product.

For every bottle of Wawa-Wee that is purchased, an orphan in need is fed. Tell us more about the social responsibility behind your brand.

In a regular corporation, the primary objective of the board of directors is always maximizing profit for the shareholders. If the board doesn’t deliver in that objective, they are answerable to the shareholders. In a social purpose corporation (SPC), however, the social objective is clearly stated in the bylaws and is just as important as profit maximization. In my present situation, I am both board and shareholder, but if my company grows, as I pray it does insha-Allah, the very fact that I am incorporated as an SPC means that I won’t have to worry about prospective shareholders hindering me from my social objective.

IMG_4279Social purpose is part of the very DNA of my company. Supporting orphans through GiveLight Foundation was always in the forefront of my mind when I first began to seriously consider turning my homemade syrups into a business venture. It has been my hope to establish some sort of sadaqa jariya that is pleasing to Allah Most High, one that continues to benefit orphans long after I leave this world. GiveLight seemed like the perfect fit for my new company. It was started by my friend Dian Alyan after she personally lost 40 relatives in the tsunami that devastated southeast Asia ten years ago. Today GiveLight supports over 800 orphans in ten different countries, and it is largely volunteer-driven, so you know your money is going directly to benefit the boys and girls who need it most.

What’s your favorite flavor? And, your favorite way to eat it?

I don’t have one favorite. I love blueberry on pancakes, strawberry in milk, and peach in soda. But the other day I tried peach in my milk and it was delicious! And strawberry soda float is the classic that my brother used to always order at Ghirardelli’s. We would tease him, “They have so many dessert options here! Why do you always get the same thing? You’re so boring!” But then his strawberry soda would arrive and it would taste so good that we would guzzle it down and he would have to order himself another one. I can honestly say that a float made with Wawa-Wee Organic Strawberry Syrup tastes even better than the one on offer at Ghirardelli’s.

What are some other ways to Wawa-Wee organic fruit syrups?

[You can use the] syrup on everything: pancakes, waffles, crepes, ice cream, yogurt, and cheesecake. We were mixing it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to make salad dressing. My children’s favorite way to use it was to mix it with seltzer water and top it with a scoop of ice cream to make a float.

Which stores can consumers purchase your syrups? Which stores will you be in in the near future?

We currently sell through our website,, and a handful of small retailers, such as ice cream shops. I’ve been so busy with my website orders that I haven’t had time yet to focus on pitching to retailers. There is one market in Brooklyn called Balady that carries Wawa-Wee. For those planning to attend the Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) conference in Toronto this month, there is a vendor called Salam Shop that will be selling our syrups. In the near future, we hope to be at big box retailers that cater to the natural, health conscious crowd, such as Whole Foods Market.

Should we expect to see any new products soon?

I have lots of ideas. Once Wawa-Wee grows into a recognized brand name, we might add pancake mixes, yogurts, sodas, juices. The sky is the limit!

Any advice for budding entrepreneurs?

My motto throughout this process has been, “It doesn’t hurt to ask.” There are so many questions you feel afraid to ask because it might sound dumb, you don’t speak the jargon, you’re afraid of being told, “no.” Allah Most High is the Source of all success. Do not fear His creation, and do not have anxiety over your livelihood. If you have an idea, just run with it.

To learn more, treat yourself to a visit to You can also find Wawa-Wee on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Photo credit:  Photodune

Eating Wisely While Dining Out

Photo credit:  Photodune

Photo credit: Photodune

By Noor H. Salem

With long work hours, and very long to do lists at home once work is over, more and more people are relying on restaurants to prepare dinner for their families. While it’s fine to dine out occasionally, and it can be an enjoyable experience with friends or family, don’t allow that to be an excuse to sabotage your healthy eating habits. In fact, you can still balance both, without taking any fun out of your outing. Being aware of main restaurant food items and what they consist of will allow you to make better choices.

When it comes to dining out, many food items that are thought to be healthy, can in fact be very misleading for many. Take the famous caesar salad for example. Ordering a salad with romaine lettuce, cheese, dressing, and croutons is not my definition of healthy. Not to mention, the majority of caesar salads come with romaine lettuce as the only vegetable. You’ll be lucky if they toss on a few slices of tomatoes. The majority of commercial ranch or caesar dressing come along with soybean or canola oils, monosodium glutamate (MSG), a ton of refined sodium, and another twenty or more ingredients you can’t pronounce. The majority of soy and canola crops are genetically modified, and neither are the best oil to dump on top of your romaine lettuce. The sodium used in these dressings will definitely not be Himalayan Pink Salt or unrefined celtic salt, which are two salts which I recommend my clients to cook with. Instead, restaurants use refined, bleached and overly processed sodium, which comes along with anti-caking preservatives you don’t need to be putting inside your body. Himalayan Pink Salt and unrefined celtic salt are actually unrefined, and come along with over 80 trace minerals! It’s amazing; and they come along with other health benefits too. Eat all the vegetables you can imagine, but dumping these dressings on there takes away the entire concept of healthy. Those crunchy innocent looking croutons actually come along with health sabotaging ingredients. The majority of commercially prepared croutons come along with hydrogenated oils, monosodium glutamate and other artificial flavorings, an inflated amount of sodium and preservatives to keep them shelf stable, and crunchy by the time they reach your dinner plate. Try avoiding these, and opt for a different salad that contains more vegetables. I highly advise you skip the dressing, and go easy on the cheese.

As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, restaurants are meant to thrive economically. Evidently that’ll cause them to not always use the best quality food. Soups can be extremely high in sodium, unhealthy oils, and artificial or natural flavorings. They will undoubtedly include ingredients and additives that you will not find in your kitchen cabinet, and even worse, possibly not ingredients you’ll find in nature either.

When it comes to drinks, do avoid sodas and carbonated beverages to the best of your ability. these are a given, the greater number of people are aware they are not health promoting, even if they happen to drink them. However, many aren’t aware that diet sodas are in fact worse for your health than regular soda. those artificial sweeteners made in chemical labs are not natural, and have numerous health effects. they are proven to cause more cravings, and some have been correlated with a higher risk of cancer. How about smoothies and items marketed as healthy? It depends. I would advise you either watch them make your smoothie if possible, or simply ask for the list of their ingredients. Do they use a prepared fruit syrup that is full of high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, and natural or artificial flavorings? Or do they actually put real fruit in your smoothie? Just be more conscious and ask; it’s okay to ask and is definitely better than being oblivious about what’s in your drink!

Of the many recommendations, I always advise my clients to look up the menus and deciding on what to order before heading out the restaurant. Majority of restaurants now provide nutritional information online. Beware of high sodium dishes, deep fried items, and those extremely high in saturated fats. Try sticking to whole foods, like salads, proteins, and vegetables. If you’re stuck between two options, try picking the best of the worst. Again, try avoiding those salad dressings; go for hummus or guacamole dip instead. Do your best in choosing wisely, and don’t’ stress over it- enjoy quality time with your friends and family.

Editor’s Note: Noor Salem is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and is CEO of her own wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition, LLC. Noor specialized in women’s health, weight loss, and food intolerance versus allergies. She offers individual and group health coaching programs, and is a speaker on the topic of holistic health at workshops and seminars. The views expressed here are her own.



Last year’s Halal Fest an appetizer for 2015

By Carissa D. Lamkahouan
TMO contributing writer


Photo credit:  Facebook

Photo credit: Facebook

Canton, MI—For a food festival, running out of eats isn’t part of the plan. However, when that scenario played out last year during the first annual Halal Fest Michigan, festival organizer Mostansar Virk took it as a sign of success.

“We were actually only expecting about 1,500 people but approximately 4,500 showed up,” said Virk, chief executive officer and founder of Halal Fest Michigan. “It was a huge hit. I was completely shocked at how many people showed up.”

The festival was staged at Heritage Park Amphitheater Pavilion in Canton, Mich., an area which boasts one of the largest Muslim communities in the country. The 2015 event, which is set for Saturday, Aug. 8 from noon-7 p.m., will be held at the same venue.

And now with this year’s event right around the corner and already buzzing with lots of online interest and robust advance tickets sales, Virk is making sure the upcoming festival doesn’t feature a repeat performance.

“Last year we had around 11 food vendors who came and we ended up running out of food around 6 p.m., but this year we have around 20 or so who will participate and we’ve asked all of them to make sure they make food for about 800 people,” he said. “We want to make sure that we have enough food for everybody and that it’s amazing food, as well. Nobody should go home hungry.”

Virk, a Michigan-based entrepreneur, said he came up with idea to hold a halal food festival after hearing disparaging remarks about halal food on the news.

“Two years ago there were people on TV speaking really awfully about halal food, saying that’s it’s foreign to America and something we shouldn’t have here,” he said. “I took that to heart because I eat halal food and I have children who eat halal food. In that moment I knew that if we have people speaking ill about halal food then I though I’ll have a halal food festival and be open with it and I’ll invite everyone and we’ll see how it goes. And it was amazing.”

In retrospect, Virk said the festival’s success shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise. Food has long been a way to bridge cultures and to bring people together, which are two important reasons Virk created Halal Fest Michigan in the first place.

“I wanted to showcase Muslims and show people that we’re not all Arabs or Africans and we’re not all about war and terrorism. Muslims are everybody,” he said. “Food makes it sort of easy to have that conversation.”

And while there is a religious aspect to the festival, it is halal food after all, Virk said the event welcomed non-Muslims and there was no pressure to discuss Islam.

“You don’t have to have a conversation about Islam if you’re eating together, you can just enjoy the food,” he said. “I just wanted people to sit down together and have conversations they wouldn’t have had otherwise with people they might not have met otherwise.”

And come they did, enjoying the wide variety of ethnic and American-style food till the last bite was gone.

“Food is a huge aspect of our culture and we had so many varieties to choose from like Indian, African, Middle Eastern, Asian. We had halal American food, as well, like halal subs and chicken wings.”

Though halal food was the festival’s star attraction, Virk said there were plenty of family-friendly activities to keep the little ones busy when they weren’t sampling all the savory dishes. Children enjoyed carnival rides, face painting, henna art and more.

Now, with his attention turned to Halal Fest Michigan 2015, Virk promises a “bigger and better” event and encourages all those who can attend to make plans to come out and enjoy some delicious halal food.

Tickets can be purchased online at Tickets are $5 per person and children under 7 are free. A family of five entry fee is $15, however this discount is only available online.

Full-price admission can be purchased at the door on the day of the event.


Yvonne Maffei

My Halal Kitchen halalifies global cuisine

Yvonne Maffei

Yvonne Maffei

By Mahvish Irfan
TMO contributing writer

No global cuisine has to be off limits because of halal dietary restrictions. Dishes that include alcohol and pork, the two main ingredients prohibited for consumption in Islamic tradition, can all be “halalified,” or substituted with wholesome, quality products that’ll make your mouth water.

Yvonne Maffei, Founder of My Halal Kitchen, inspires her over one million social media followers with healthy, delicious cuisine from around the world that truly demonstrates how halal is anything but a constriction.

Founded in 2008, Yvonne says she started My Halal Kitchen because “I saw a real need for not just an explanation of halal in general but as it relates to cooking. I come from an ethnic background of being half Puerto Rican and half Sicilian but having grown up in the US so my food experience was a lot different from most people in the Muslim community.”

Yvonne, who converted to Islam in 2001, always had an interest in all natural cooking, travel, culture and writing. She gave up her teaching career of ten years to pursue her culinary dreams.

“When I started writing about halal, things flowed really easily,” she explains. “I never went into it as a hobby. My intention behind it was that I wanted to make it my career … I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life in this profession.”

But, there was one thing missing. “I wanted to eat all the traditional food that I grew up with,” Yvonne shares. So, she began experimenting and swapped haraam (forbidden) ingredients with quality, halal substitutes. “For someone who likes to cook like myself it was great fun to find out what I could do.”

I grew up eating a lot of French foods and Italian foods but looking back there was probably wine in some of that food, maybe there was some pork…I would look for true halal substitutes for ingredients…It wasn’t like I wanted to experience that exact same taste [from haraam foods] but I knew that taking out certain ingredients will make the food taste flat.

I just wanted to experiment and what I was finding was that if we want halal substitutes, it can actually make the food taste better. I knew because I had eaten things that were not halal and here I was experimenting with authentic flavors and they’re coming out so well.”

But can all food be made halal? “I don’t care what it is, you can make anything that you’re eating halal,” Yvonne affirms. “That’s what I mean by halalifying recipes. … Any food, any dish, any cuisine can be made halal, it’s just a matter of making those substitutions that are halal for things that aren’t.”

Yvonne’s mixed identity also helped her bridge the gap between Muslim and non-Muslim cuisine through halal food. Early in her career she noted, “I knew within the Muslim community some might have never tried Mexican, French or Italian food, although there was an interest in trying it and an interest in making it. On the other side, my non-Muslim friends and family were really confused about what we [Muslims] eat.”

Realizing there was no other resource showing global halal cuisine, Yvonne created her My Halal Kitchen blog sharing diverse recipes, culinary tips and more. “I thought, well, I’m going to do it because it’s something I want to see and other people want to see.”

Her viewership exploded. Currently, she has a growing 1,001,932 likes on Facebook, 9,832 followers on Twitter, 3,738 fans on Instagram and 3,635 on Pinterest.

“That [number] I can say still really shocks me until today because I did not expect that,” Yvonne comments. “I was thinking, oh, you know, I’ll be lucky if I get 10,000. But I honestly never focused on the numbers. I just really wanted to focus on impact and I wanted to answer people’s questions, I wanted to teach. I was really happy doing that.”

Although her focus is quality over quantity, the numbers demonstrate the burgeoning awareness and interest in halal cooking. People are hungry to learn, including non-Muslims.

“Honestly, there have been so many more people who aren’t regular halal consumers or Muslims who ask for the advice or look for the recipes,” Yvonne states. “That really makes me happy because it means that it’s appealing to people who didn’t know about halal or maybe used to think that it was weird.”

While once she was warned to stay away from focusing on a career about healthy, halal global cuisine because “It’s never going to go anywhere. It’s just to small,” Yvonne stayed firm because she knew “halal was going to go on forever” – a wise decision considering the international halal food market is now valued at $1.1 trillion and only escalating according to a Thompson Reuters study.

With her rising popularity, Yvonne has published a popular “Summer Ramadan Cooking” cookbook. The second edition is now available for purchase just in time for the Islamic holy month of fasting.

Editor’s note: to learn more about Yvonne’s wonderful food experiments, visit To engage in tasty discussions on wholesome halal cooking, become a fan on and @myhalalkitchen on Twitter and Instagram!


Houstonian Corner (V13-I51)

The Inaugural Grand Ball of International Trade Center

With the splendid light blue and white backdrops, Westin Galleria Hotel Grand Ballroom showed a picturesque setting for the around 700 guests that were in attendance at the Inaugural Grand Ball of International Trade Center (ITC). Program included exciting entertainments from across the globe; motivating interactive auction professionally done by Former Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt; Silent Auction on the beautiful artifacts & jewelry from across the world; sumptuous dinner from the Chefs of Westin Galleria, and much more. Our media outlets congratulate the whole team of ITC on this most wonderful program.

Chris Wilmont, Chairman Greater Houston Partnership World Bank Task Force & Honorary Grand Ball Chair; Honorable Gordon & Sylvia Quan, Grand Ball Co-Chairs; Wae Lee, ITC Founder; Gezahgen Kebede, President of ITC; Yuki Rogers, Executive Director; and Munira Panjwani-Zahid  & Munir Ibrahim, Co-Chairs of the Grand Ball Steering Committee; welcomed all the guests.
Keynote speaker on the occasion was James Edmonds, Chairman of Port of Houston Authority (POHA), who informed all the guests about the services POHA is providing for international trade; more potentials for trade with the projected widening of Panama Canal; and incredible opportunities for local small businesses to get contracts of the various projects happening at POHA all the time.
Guest of Honor Congressman AL Green gave special congressional proclamation to ITC and said he felt really proud to have recently visited Shanghai China to start the “Made in USA Center” over there, which has been inaugurated by Wae Lee of ITC: “I will like to visit China again with ITC,” added Honorable AL Green.

Robert Sakowitz Hazak received a beautiful memento for the Life-Time Achievement Award of ITC for his success in the world of fashion & business.

Other esteemed globally recognized award recipients were AT&T (International Corporation of the Year); Mr. Moez Mangalji of Westmont Hospitality Group (International Businessman of the Year); Late Dr. Michael Elias DeBakey of Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Center (International Legacy of the Year); UNICEF (International Humanitarian Organization of the Year); Houston Community College System (International Academia Award); Ms. Sandra Bloem-Curtis of Rice University (International Educator of the Year); and three persons got the International Students of Excellence namely Mr. Yuqian “Kevin” Wu (University of Houston), Mr. Sumedh Warudkar (Rice University), and Ms. Sung Un Lee (Houston Community College).

For more information about the services & programs, and recurring updates of ITC, please regularly visit

HPD Officers’ & Volunteers Donate Food

This past Tuesday and Wednesday, Houston police officers, including Officer Muzaffar Siddiqui, and dozens of community volunteers finished packing food supplies, that will be distributed to those less fortunate in Houston. This annual effort was held at the Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. Plant at 9300 La Porte Freeway.

Thanks to the generosity of the Houston community, food and monetary donations were collected by HPD officers stationed at Fiesta Mart locations throughout Houston during HPD’s 26th Annual “Comida” (“Food” in Spanish) Drive.

The Comida Drive began 26 years ago, in December 1985, with an officer’s concern for the less fortunate citizens of Houston. That began what is now one of the largest food drives in the city of Houston. During its first year, approximately 600 families received a box of non-perishable food. Each donated box feeds a family of four. The food drive now provides food for more than 3,500 pre-registered families throughout the City of Houston.

For more information, please call 713-308-3280.

Food Woes Set to Define Middle East

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

large fresh fruit basketThe fight for freedom and democracy rages on in many parts of the Middle East, as people clamor for change in their homelands. However, according to a recently released report by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), denizens of the Arab world just might find themselves fighting over precious resources such as food over the next several decades.

At this year’s World Conference for Science Journalists, hosted by the government of Qatar, Regional Communications Manager for the IFAD Teysir Al Ganem said, “The Arab world is the region that is most hit by food imports and fluctuations in food prices. Some 65 million Arabs live on less than $2 a day and fluctuations in prices affect the number of poor people.” It’s no secret that the bulk of food in produce bins and on shelves in Middle Eastern grocery stores is imported from the West and a scant few agriculturally wealthy Arab states.  The IFAD projects that the Arab World will have little choice but to rely upon the food imports until 2050.

Climate change will have a dramatic affect on the capabilities of nations in the Middle East that are somewhat agriculturally stable. As a result of climatic changes, the Middle East region will be prone to increased drought, less rainfall and higher temperatures which are disastrous forces that will have a negative impact on countless agricultural projects. Population growth in the Arab world is another factor that will add to the food crisis as, according to the IFAD, the population in the Arab world will exceed well over 690 million people in the next 40 years.

Arab countries that do cultivate fruits and vegetables will have to rely on alternative methods to grow vegetation to cut costs and preserve the environment. Farmers in Yemen have already resorted to more traditional methods of sowing seeds and harvesting crops instead of relying upon automated machinery that is often expensive to purchase and utilize. However, despite the best efforts of farming communities in the Middle East, perceived ‘plagues’ such as locusts and black stem rust threaten to wipe out scores of crops before they come to maturity thus forcing a food pandemic that might cripple the region as a whole. 


Emerging Fast-Food Nation Indonesia Props Up Wheat Market

By Michael Taylor


A woman holding a baby walks past menus displayed in front of a fast food outlet in Jakarta June 28, 2011. Indonesia will be crowned top Asian wheat importer this year, as higher incomes turn Southeast Asia’s largest economy into a fast-food nation and help to keep global prices on the boil.

JAKARTA, June 28 (Reuters) – Indonesia will be crowned top Asian wheat importer this year, as higher incomes turn Southeast Asia’s largest economy into a fast-food nation and help to keep global prices on the boil.

As affluent Indonesians turn away from rice, their country is vying with Japan to be Asia’s leading wheat buyer, while the latter battles economic crisis in the wake of a devastating earthquake and an ageing population boosts protein in its diet.

“We are coming up on a par with, or even more than, Japan,” said Franciscus Welirang, chairman of the Indonesian Wheat Flour Mills Association, known as Aptindo. “It could be this year that we overtake.”

With Indonesia’s imports of the staple set to rise more than 10 percent this year and 3 percent a year in the period to 2015, the trend could even carry Indonesia to second place among the ranks of the world’s largest importers this year.

Listed firms that could gain from any rise in Indonesian wheat consumption include Indofood Sukses Makmur , Singapore’s Wilmar International and Malaysia’s PPB Group.

Indonesia, which relies entirely on imports for its wheat, gets around 60 percent of supplies from Australia, with Canada and the United States accounting for about 30 percent.

Western Australian wheat suppliers will benefit from the trend and continue to dominate Indonesian demand, analysts say, as geographic proximity and consumers’ preference for premium and standard white wheat head off competition from mainly soft white and hard red wheat producers in the U.S. and Canada.

Premium wheat from Western Australia, used to make bread and noodles, is also a favourite of East Asian countries, such as Vietnam and Taiwan.

Small Global Deficit

Global wheat output is set to show a small deficit this year, with stocks meeting any shortfall as output hits around 663 million to 673 million tonnes, analysts say.

The surge in Indonesian imports for the rest of this year coincides with a recent plunge in global wheat prices on improving crop weather in the West while Australian exports could jump nearly 9 percent to a record in 2011-12.

“In such a finely balanced market, any change in supply or demand will have an outsized impact on prices,” said Deepak Gopinath, director at Trusted Sources Research. “The continued rapid growth of Southeast Asian wheat imports will be bullish for wheat prices over the medium term.”

That growth will help moderate the price drop seen for the coming months, after wheat prices hit 2-1/2 year peaks near $9.00 a bushel in February on tight supplies and robust demand from Middle East and North African importers.

By 0628 GMT, the front-month July contract wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade was flat at $6.24 a bushel, after posting its fourth-straight week of losses last week to around the lowest in a year. A Reuters technical analysis showed CBOT wheat would fall to $4.02-1/4 per bushel over the next three months.

Southeast Asia now accounts for about 12 percent of global wheat imports, up from 9 percent in 2009. While wheat imports by neighbouring Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia have held under 3 million tonnes over the past decade, Indonesian intake has almost doubled.

This is due in part to a wheat consumption push by the Indonesian government, an effort to avoid an over-reliance on the staple diet rice of which it is not a major exporter like many of its neighbours.
“Asia is a new market and one of the big issues in terms of food security,” said Jonathan Barratt, managing director of Commodity Broking Services in Sydney.

“We’re looking for increased production but it is not meeting the new demand from emerging economies — that’s the problem because it’s moving outside traditional food sources.”

Fast Food Chains


Customers queue to buy food at a KFC outlet in Jakarta June 28, 2011. Indonesia will be crowned top Asian wheat importer this year, as higher incomes turn Southeast Asia’s largest economy into a fast-food nation and help to keep global prices on the boil.

Behind Indonesia’s rapidly rising wheat imports stands a booming economy, set to rise about 6.5 percent this year, boosted by domestic consumption and mineral exports.

Appetites are changing, with bread-based breakfast favoured by the upper middle classes and noodles preferred by the middle classes, a shift away from the previous breakfast staple, rice.

Such changes are easy to spot on a walk through the smog-filled streets of Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, where new fast food outlets and billboards for the likes of McDonalds , Dunkin’ Donuts, Pizza Hut and KFC , have mushroomed.

McDonalds’ Indonesian licensee says the hamburger chain now has 117 restaurants in the country versus 98 at the end of 2009.

“The increasing westernisation of diets throughout Southeast Asia over the past couple of years, has certainly driven feed wheat demand,” said Michael Creed, an agribusiness economist for National Australia Bank.

About 60 percent of Indonesian wheat imports are now used to make noodles, with 20 percent consumed by bakeries.

Aptindo Indonesia recently forecast wheat imports would grow 10 percent this year to 5.1 million tonnes.

According to forecasts by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Indonesia is already ahead in Asia in the trade year July 2010 to June 2011, with wheat and flour imports at 6.1 million tonnes compared to 5.5 million tonnes in Japan.

USDA data showed 2009/2010 imports for Indonesia and Japan at 5.36 million tonnes and 5.5 million tonnes respectively. It adds that Indonesian wheat consumption is estimated to rise to 5.8 million tonnes in 2010/2011, versus 5.25 million in 2009/10.      A combination of ageing population, rising incomes leading to consumers favouring less starch and more high protein foods, are all helping to push Japan’s wheat consumption lower, analysts say.

Analysts say Indonesian wheat imports are seen rising about 3 percent annually in three to five years , with huge scope for further growth, given that its annual consumption of wheat per capita of 18 kg puts the country among the world’s lowest.

“There is a potential market to grow,” said a consultant at U.S. Wheat Associates.

Indonesia will import 700,000 tonnes of wheat flour this year, said Aptindo, 60 percent from Turkey.

The USDA forecast that Indonesia will rank third among global importers in 2010/2011, behind Egypt and Brazil.

“Indonesia are a fairly large importer,” said Creed, who sees Indonesia overtaking Brazil. “There is not exactly a huge amount of arable land in Indonesia… Brazil does have a capacity to increase productivity.”

But as tastes widen beyond rice, any negative impact on the traditional staple grain is limited due to Indonesia’s ambitious aims to be self-sufficient in rice production.

“The Indonesian government’s goal is to maintain rice self-sufficiency at all costs,” said Gopinath. “That means encouraging Indonesians to substitute wheat for rice as much as possible to slow the growth in rice consumption.” (Editing by Ramthan Hussain and Clarence Fernandez)


Multi-Cultural Festival Celebrates Diversity on Father’s Day Weekend with Food and Fun

Preparations continue for the 16th Dearborn Arab International Festival with the Dearborn City Council approving a permit Tuesday for the Annual cultural celebration. The Festival is scheduled for June 17, 18 & 19.

“We’re excited and we look forward for a Festival rich with fun and celebrations,” said Fay Beydoun, Executive Director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, the organizer of the Festival.

The Festival, which attracts an estimated 300,000 visitors from the United States and Canada converts  12 blocks of Warren Avenue between Schaefer Road and Wyoming Street in Dearborn into a world-class street festival every year.

The festival has about $7 million of economic impact on the Dearborn area and improves the bottom line for multiple sectors of the local economy including hotels, restaurants, shopping and other activities beyond the Festival area.

It is a great cultural event, featuring food, crafts and entertainment from the Middle East. It also features a large carnival highlighted by a Ferris Wheel that overtakes East Dearborn and an interactive children tent that includes crafts, face-painting, clowns and puppeteers.


Bottled Water Sales Banned at Ottawa Campus

By Emily Chung, CBC News

Thirsty students won’t be able to buy bottled water from vending machines, food outlets or stores at the University of Ottawa starting Sept. 1.

That is when a ban on the sale of bottled water goes into effect across campus, the university announced Wednesday, the eve of Earth Day.

Pierre De Gagné, assistant director of engineering and sustainable development at the University of Ottawa’s infrastructure department, said the move is intended to encourage students to drink free, healthy tap water and reduce plastic bottle waste.

Michèle Lamarche, vice-president of student affairs at the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa, said the move was largely driven by students, who have been working with the university to bring in the ban for more than a year.

Contract issues

Initially, she said, the university was concerned about upgrades to water fountains that would need to be made, as well as contracts with food services and vending machine companies that sell bottled water.

Many food outlets on campus didn’t even have water fountains nearby, she said.

Bottled water bans

In 2009, the University of Winnipeg, Memorial University in St. John’s, and Brandon University in Manitoba all announced they were banning bottled water sales on campus.

The University of Ottawa says it is the first university in Ontario to do so. Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., announced earlier in April that it will phase in a bottled water sale ban as it renegotiates food and vending machine contracts over the next few years.

Twenty universities in Ontario participated in Bottled Water-Free Day on March 11.

“Why have a water fountain outside when they can get people to buy the water bottle inside?” she asked.

De Gagné said he was surprised how quickly the university’s food services staff managed to renegotiate with their suppliers to drop bottled water.

“It all happened through a lot of good will, I guess, and a lot of long-range thinking.”

He did not know the details of the renegotiated deals.

In preparation for the ban, the university said, it has spent more than $100,000 since 2008 to improve the availability of tap water by:

* Adding goose necks to about 75 water fountains to make it easier to fill reusable bottles.
* Installing new fountains near food service outlets.
* Upgrading existing fountains with features including wheelchair accessibility, stronger pressure and better refrigeration.

Lamarche said the student federation is also doing its part by giving away hundreds of reusable bottles. It will also be selling the reusable bottles at the student-run convenience store for around the same price as a regular disposable bottle of water. And it will be installing a bank of water fountains with goose necks in the store itself.

Maps, signage on the way

Both the student federation and the university are working on maps and signage similar to washroom signage to indicate where water fountains are located. Neither Lamarche nor De Gagné thought students thought the ban would encourage thirsty students to choose pop instead of water.

“It won’t reside anymore in the same machine as pop, but it won’t be far away,” De Gagné said.

Lamarche said drinking water issues are very personal for her because she is an archeology student who spends her summers working in the Middle East. There, drinking water isn’t readily available, she said.

“The more we buy bottled water in North America, the more we say it’s OK to charge people for something that should be free or really really cheap,” she said. “And then governments say why do we have to worry about water infrastructure if they can buy water?”


The Legacy of Lunch

By Sumayyah Meehan MMNS Middle East Correspondent

lunch%20tray For the past couple of months now I have been intrigued with an anonymous blog project based in America that has captured the imagination of countless Internet users. The topic of the blog is school lunches in America and the blogger is a schoolteacher that masks her identity for fear of losing her job. Every day, she shares the food that not only her students are eating but what she is eating herself in the school cafeteria. The blog, Fed Up With School Lunch, has ignited a rallying cry that stretches clean across the globe with teachers in countries like Korea and France chiming in to share their school lunch victories and disasters. Most notably, the blog highlights the poor quality of food served in most American schools and the lack of nutrition to sustain students.

What strikes me the most about the project is not the fact that American kids are eating a ton of processed foods intermingled with a mere sprinkling of fresh fruits and vegetables, but the fact that kids in the USA are actually served lunch every day whereas my own children in the Middle East are not offered any form of lunch in their schools whatsoever. In fact, the vast majority of schools in Kuwait don’t offer hot or even cold lunches. And vending machines are absolutely nowhere to be found on school campuses. Most parents send their kids a packed lunch, usually potato chips or chocolate and Pepsi. Some don’t even send lunch at all. And what’s worse is that there is not an allocated time slot for lunch in most schools in Kuwait, so many children bring their lunches back home with them or eat while they are studying.

Kuwait is not the only Gulf country lacking when it comes to school lunches. Even wealthy Arab neighbors like Dubai have a school system that rarely serves lunch. Parents are left to monitor their own children’s nutrition at lunchtime with zero support from the faculty at their school. The biggest problem for parents of school-aged children in the Gulf region is a lack of proper nutritional information. In a recent survey that I conducted in my own daughter’s 3rd grade class, a whopping 90% of children had been given junk food for their lunch with only a handful of children having a healthy lunch and an equal number having no lunch at all.

The price for the ‘rubbish’ lunches, as my hero/cooking guru Jamie Oliver would say, is more and more children in Kuwait are battling obesity before they even reach puberty. The Ministry of Health in Kuwait has recently projected that the rate of diabetes amongst children in Kuwait is set to double in the coming years. And, so far, no one is doing anything about it.

So no matter which way you, slice, dice or reheat it, the legacy of lunch is something that affects children from all walks of life and in every region of the world. It’s up to adults to make the right food decisions for the younger generations, and win the battle over lunch once and for all.


House Mouse

ibn 2 4-19-10

The house mouse (Mus musculus) is a small rodent, a mouse, one of the most numerous species of the genus Mus.

As a wild animal the house mouse mainly lives associated with humans, causing damage to crops and stored food.

The house mouse has been domesticated as the pet or fancy mouse, and as the laboratory mouse which is one of the most important model organisms in biology and medicine. It is by far the most commonly used genetically altered laboratory mammal.

House mice usually run, walk or stand on all fours; but when eating, fighting or orienting themselves, they stand only on the hind legs, supported by the tail. When running, the horizontal tail serves for balance; the end stands up vertically, unless the mouse is frightened. Mice are good jumpers, climbers, and swimmers.

Mice are mostly active during dusk or night; they do not like bright lights. They have an instinctual fear of so-called “black lighting” and strobe lighting, which leads to a common method of controlling mice in the home. They live in a wide variety of hidden places that are near food sources and construct nests from various soft materials. Mice are territorial and one dominant male usually lives together with several females and young. Dominant males respect each other’s territory and normally enter another’s territory only if it is vacant. If two or more males are held together in a cage, they will often turn aggressive unless they have been raised together from birth.

House mice primarily feed on plant matter, but they will also accept meat and dairy products. Although they are generally known to like fruits, they are repelled by the scent of many varieties of artificial fruit scent, for example strawberry or vanilla-scented candles. The reason for this is unknown, although it dates back to antiquity when Roman Senators used candles scented with strawberry oils to keep mice out of their sleeping chambers. They will drink water but require little of it, relying mainly on the moisture present in their food. They will eat their droppings to acquire nutrients produced by bacteria in their intestines. House mice, like other rodents, do not vomit.

Mice are afraid of rats, which often kill and (partially) eat them. This rat behavior is known as muricide. Despite this behavior free-living populations of rats and mice do exist together in forest areas in North America and elsewhere.

House mice are generally poor competitors and in most areas cannot survive away from human settlements in areas where other small mammals, such as wood mice, are present. However in some areas (such as Australia) mice are able to co-exist with other small rodent species.

House mice usually live in proximity to humans, in or around houses or fields. Originally native to Asia (probably northern India),[17] they spread to the Mediterranean Basin about 8000 BC, only spreading into the rest of Europe around 1000 BC. This time lag is thought to be because the mice require agrarian human settlements above a certain size. They have since been spread to all parts of the globe by humans.

Many studies have been done on mouse phylogenies to reconstruct early human movements. For example one study showed a previously unsuspected early link between Denmark and Madeira on the basis of the origin of the Madeiran mice.

House mice can transmit diseases, and can damage food and food packaging. Some of the diseases the house mouse carries can be deadly; for example, Murine typhus, Rickettsialpox, Tularemia, and the Bubonic plague. These mice can be very dangerous to people if they contaminate anything in their houses, especially food. It is also possible for wild house mice to transmit rabies, therefore a wild house mouse should never be handled. They can also cause substantial damage when feeding on grain. It is thought that house mice were the primary reason for the taming of the domestic cat. Various mousetraps have been developed to catch mice. Generally, rats are more harmful to humans than mice.

The first written reference to mice kept as pets occurs in the Erya, the oldest extant Chinese dictionary, from a mention in an 1100 B.C. version. Human domestication led to numerous strains of “fancy” or hobby mice with a variety of colors and a docile temperament. Domestic varieties of the house mouse called “feeder” mice are also used as food for some carnivorous pet reptiles, arthropods and fish. Mice bred for this purpose are genetically identical to other domestic mice, and can be kept as pets themselves


Community News (V12-I16)

Taskeen Khan wins first place in writing contest

taskeen-khan CHICAGO, IL–Taskeen Khan,a sixth grader from Hadley Junior High in Glen Ellyn , has won the first place in Expository Category in a national writing context held by the Writing Conference, Inc.

Her entry, Courage, tells the story of woman named Ahlam who came to the U.S. because of persecution in her home country. Taskeen recounts Ahlam courage in speaking out, building a new life for herself, and helping others to do the same.

Taskeen has been invited to the National Awards Ceremony in Kansas, where the winning pieces will be acted out by high school students. Her piece will also be published in the Writers Slate, an online journal.

Zahir Dossa, Soros Fellowship Recipient

zahir-dossa This is the fourth installment of our series of profiles of Muslim recipients of Paul and Daisy Fellowships

Zahir Dossa was born in Canada before moving to Texas to parents of Indian heritage who had settled in, and then fled during the socialist regime from, Tanzania.  Zahir gained admission to MIT, where he and a fellow student founded an organization to distribute low-tech but very inexpensive irrigation pumps to low-income farmers in Sudan.  Their efforts were featured in an article in Popular Mechanics and a report on BBC World Radio.

Their organization has received various awards, including the $10,000 Davis Peace Prize.  Funded as an undergraduate by the Gates Foundation, Zahir graduated with majors in electrical engineering and computer science along with management.  He has remained at MIT, where he is now pursuing both a MEng in electrical engineering and a PhD in urban studies.   Continuing with his interest in international development, he has created a curriculum for practitioners and is working to create a minor in international development at MIT.

Students at NJIT call for bringing back halal menu

NEWARK, NJ–Muslim students at the New Jersey Institute of Technology are calling on the administration to bring back the halal menu in campus cafetaria.

The “Halal Grill”  in the cafeteria has been facing shortages in supplies since last year and has been completely taken out this semester.

In a letter to the student newspaper a Muslim student wrote, “We are a campus from countless walks of life, it is important to accommodate these groups and not marginalize them. I ask that Gourmet Dining Services either provides Halal food, or update its website – the Grill no longer offers a wide variety of Halal items.”

Calgary Halal food bank grows

CALGARY,Canada–Muslim Families Network Society, a Calgary based non-profit organization, started its Halal food bank as a community outreach program in 2004 with a mission to relieve poverty.

With food bank 24/7 services, MFNS also provides bi-annual city-wide food, meat and clothes distributions; once at Easter time and in the month of Ramadan.

Needs are fulfilled according to family size with food, halal meat, clothes, toys, books and food gift cards. MFNS has made it easier for people in need to buy the food according to their dietary specifications.


Middle-class Muslims Fuel French Halal Boom

french halal Retailers and restaurants cash in on rapidly expanding and highly profitable market in halal food and drinks

Halal butchery and poultry shelves in a supermarket in Illzach, eastern France. Photograph: Sebastien Bozon/AFP/Getty Images

Few things define the traditional good life in France better than champagne and foie gras, but few would have thought them symbols of social integration – until now.

A boom in sales of halal products, including alcohol-free bubbly and goose liver paté approved by Islamic law, is being driven by the emergence of an affluent middle class of young Muslims.

Known as the beurgeois – a play on bourgeois and the word beur, slang for a French person of North African descent – these new consumers are behind a rapidly expanding and highly profitable market in halal food and drinks.

With spending power worth an estimated €5.5bn a year, according to the opinion pollsters Solis, these under-40s are forcing international food suppliers to cater for their demands.

Yanis Bouarbi, 33, an IT specialist who started the website, which lists restaurants in France serving halal food, says young Muslims are at the heart of a mini social revolution.

“When our parents and grandparents came to France they did mostly manual work and the priority was having enough to feed the family,” said Bouarbi, who arrived from Algeria at the age of three.

“But second or third-generation people like me have studied, have good jobs and money and want to go out and profit from French culture without compromising our religious beliefs. We don’t just want cheap kebabs, we want Japanese, Thai, French food; we want to be like the rest of you.”

The demand for halal products, currently increasing by an estimated 15% a year, has captured the attention of food giants such as the supermarket group Casino, which has stocked an increasing variety of halal foods – mostly meat products – for the last three years.

The fast-food chain Quick has a number of halal-only burger bars; the opening of the most recent caused a political storm before the regional elections last month, but the row has since blown over. Muslim corner shops selling exclusively halal foods and drinks including eggs, turkey bacon and pork-free sausages as well as alcohol-free “champagne”, known as Cham’Alal, are also flourishing.

Halal foie gras, first introduced into supermarket chains across the country two years ago at the end of the Muslim feast of Ramadan, has proved an unexpected success. “It’s one of our best sellers; we have around 30 foie gras bought a day,” Cyril Malinet, manager of a major Carrefour supermarket, told Libération.

Annick Fettani, head of Bienfaits de France, which specialises in halal duck, said: “Until now we’ve had to fight to sell our foie gras but today everyone wants it.” Bouarbi believes the halal boom is taking place because young Muslims have more money. His website now lists more than 400 restaurants in Paris and its suburbs, and he plans to expand it to other French cities.

In Paris’s trendy 11th arrondissement, Les Enfants Terribles restaurant, run by brothers Kamel and Sosiane Saidi, serves halal French haute cuisine. “Before, Muslims wishing to eat halal would go to a restaurant and it was fish or nothing. Now we have a choice,” said Sosiane, 28, who worked in the property market before setting up the restaurant three years ago.

“Young Muslims have money and want to eat out like everyone else but according to their religion. The food doesn’t taste any different; we have many French customers who don’t even know we’re totally halal. To us, that is what integration is about.”

Like Yanis and Sosiane, younger members of France’s estimated 5 million-strong Muslim community – with whom relations have been strained by the recent debate on national identity and threats by Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-of-centre government to ban the burqa – are asserting their economic muscle. As one French website put it, halal is “very good business” for French companies.

“Supermarkets aren’t benevolent charities, they’re in it for the money,” said Bouarbi. “And they’ve discovered halal sells.”


Community News (V12-I6)

Farad Ali: Durham City Councilman

DURHAM, NC–Farad Ali serves on the council of city of Durham in North Carolina and is a rising star in the city`s politics.  A life long advocate for the city Ali has been pushing for accountability and integrity in the council.

Having attended Githens Junior High School and graduating from Jordan High School, Ali is a product of the Durham public school system. He remained in the area, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in finance, from the School of Business at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He went on to obtain a Masters in Business Administration from Campbell University.

His professional career began in the banking industry, Mr. Ali worked for over ten years as a successful community, commercial and corporate banker in the private sector.

Currently an executive at a nonprofit, Farad Ali works within an organization focused on addressing issues related to responsible community economic and minority business development. During his career, he has served on numerous local boards and advisory committees. He has served as a speaker and advisor for state and national financial and economic development programs. Mr. Ali has been intensively involved in programs to foster community development.

BYU publishes Ibn Sina translation

SALT LAKE CITY, UT–Ibn Sina, the great Muslim philosopher and scientist, is being reintroduced to the modern world through translations of his works by the Brigham Young University.

A section of Avicenna’s work from “The Healing” called “The Physics” was translated by Jon McGinnis, an associate professor in the department of philosophy of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The resulting two volumes, titled “Avicenna: The Physics of ‘The Healing,’” are now available as part of BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative.

BYU’s Middle Eastern Texts Initiative has published 16 works — including Islamic works, Eastern Christian texts and a series of works by Jewish rabbi Moses Maimonides. “Physics” is the seventh volume in the Islamic Translation Series of this initiative.

Hundreds come for Halal food course

TORONTO–In a sign of growing concerns over Halal foods hundreds of Muslim youth in the Toronto area turned out for a weekend course titled ‘Precious Provisions: Fiqh of Food and Clothing,’ taught by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi. Providing a comparative analysis of the rulings on food according to the various Islamic legal schools he said that a majority agrees that the food should be properly slaughtered and that the name of Allah (swt) be recited on the animal or bird.

Throwing light on the various controversies on the topic in North America he went on to demonstrate that the permissibility of the meat of the people of the book is not unconditional. He said it is permissible only if the Islamic conditions of dhabh are met.

He said that the importance of tasmiyah evident from the fact that it is even required for hunted animals, so how about non-hunted? He said that only school, the Maliki, consider the mentioning of Allah’s name is Mustahab. The majority opinion either considers it to be obligatory to mention Allah’s name in all circumstances or obligatory but forgiven if accidentally forgotten.

Shaykh Qadhi also discussed the reliability of the books which contain lists of halal and haram products. He said the utility of such books is limited as they are not written by Islamic scholars and adopt a a mechanical attitude in classifying products as Halal or Haram. This results in classifying things like water and milk in the prohibited category. He said that the just a presence of a particular doubtful or prohibited product on the ingredient list doesn’t make a product Haram but one has to look at its quantity and state.

He urged the Muslim communities to organize locally and develop a system to monitor and certify halal stores.  He also said that Muslims should respect divergent opinions and discuss things in an amicable manner.


Arab American Muslims, Christians–Relief to Haiti

Arab Detroit, Ameera David

DEARBORN,Mich.–Just a day after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, the death toll was already estimated at over 1,000 people. Today, only a week later, that toll is thought to stand at 200,000—a number inclining with each passing hour.

Now, in the wake of such a disaster, a host of global organizations are contributing to relief. Joining those ranks are Arab American Muslims and Christians, who from a national to local level are stepping up to the plate and helping in unprecedented ways.

Immediately following the incident, Islamic charity Zakat mobilized as many as 50 volunteers to distribute high-need commodities. The charity, founded and directed by Khalid Demir, has pledged over $50,000 dollars in hygiene products, medical supplies, and hot cooked meals.

Demir himself just returned from a trip to Haiti in hopes of better facilitating the relief but was troubled by the amount of people who still hadn’t received any medical attention or food. “With severely overcrowded streets, there is chaos. These are people who haven’t eaten in over a week” he says.

Other Muslim organizations such as Helping Hands (based largely in Detroit) and Islamic Relief of USA have also dived in to help— both by sending in representatives to assess the calamity as well as by pledging over $1 million dollars in goods and services.

Helping Hands is currently negotiating the start of an efficient medical base clinic in Port-au-Prince. There, they will equip the center with sizeable medical provisions while also contracting quality physicians from the US and abroad into Haiti for treatment.

Umbrella organizations representing America’s Arab Christian population have also taken a stand in supporting the Haitian earthquake survivors.

Arab Melkite and Maronite Catholic Eparchies have opened special collections in their respective churches which will go directly to the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), an organization with a $25 million commitment to relief.

International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), representative of America’s 300 plus Arabic Orthodox churches, will provide over $170,000 in relief.

Thus far, they have airlifted water purification equipment to accommodate 10,000 people as well as enough tents to lodge 500 families. Not to mention opening a campaign for donors to both finance and assemble “Hygiene Kits” complete with soap, towels, toothbrushes, and band aids.

Amal Morcos, IOCC Communications Director, is pleased to be afforded this opportunity to help. She says, “Faith based organizations play a very important role in humanitarian aid. They should uphold certain values in representing the religion and its followers— demonstrating that they care about all people regardless of their faith.”

Also showing compassion is the Michigan Food and Beverage Association, an umbrella organization which encompasses hundreds of Arab owned restaurants and stores in and around the metro-Detroit area.

The association, founded by Syrian American Edward Deeb, hopes to rally member businesses to contribute monetarily as well as with food products, with the goal of giving $2 million or more in aid.

“They don’t have enough food, enough water, or enough medical supplies. There are 1.5 million people, and they need our help” says Deeb.

While donations are surfacing mostly though large, pre-established organizations, there are also many individual Arab Americans finding creative ways to help.

Just this week, Lebanese American, Reem Sater, has initiated a fundraiser which will support Architecture for Humanity, an organization that works on reconstruction and the building of a sustainable infrastructure that can withstand earthquakes in the future.

Almost immediately after the earthquake hit, Sater thought of ways to activate the younger generation, “I didn’t see anyone from our age group organizing any relief efforts, and I felt like we had a responsibility just as anyone else to assist those in need.”

Taking place at a Ferndale lounge, each $20 donation made to the relief organization will include a drink of the person’s choice. The event promises to attract more than 200 guests and raise $5,000 in proceeds.

With recurring aftershock earthquakes and new problems developing, Haiti holds an uncertain future; however, while the true devastation remains to be seen, Arab Americans are stepping in, actively responding with open hearts and little hesitation.


An Evening with Camels

From Moments In Words From Hadhramout by (Omar Barsawad)


Camels. In Australia they are brutally butchered; not for their meat; not for their skins; but simply because they are considered ‘feral’, ‘pests’ and a ‘problem’. The recent ‘culling’ of camels in Australia’s Northern Territory cost its government about 50,000$; enough money to have dug boreholes for the camels which roam from place to place in search of water. The one humped, Arabian Camels were introduced to the mainly arid Australia, for transport, in the mid 18th Century; but since then, they have rapidly been increasing in numbers. As Australians have no other use for them, they have repeatedly reduced the population of camels, by cruelly shooting them either form planes in the air, or by chasing them on moving vehicles. How barbaric. Had some poor, developing country been doing that to marauding lions or elephants – how would Australians have felt?

Camels should never have been taken to Australia; as people there have no liking for or understanding of the amazing animals. Had Australians understood this wonderful creature, they would have known how to benefit from it; they would have known how to use it; and they would have known how to respect it. Benefit from it; use it; and respect and value it as we do here in Hadhramout. 

African elephants, which I have many times seen at very close range – have always greatly awed and amazed me; and so have camels. A few days ago, I spent an evening with these extraordinary animals. Just a few meters from the center of Al Mukalla, is  a market for camels:

Most people wrongly believe that, as camels mainly live in very arid, hot places, the humps that they have is for storing water. The humps are actually a reservoir of fat; it helps in providing nutrients when needed and in a way helps in controlling heat over the animal’s body.

Camels are born without humps; the hump develops as the camel grows . And as camels use the fat within the humps when they have less food, the hump’s size reduces. Or it increases when the camel has more food. Camels can weigh op to 700 kilograms and can grow up to slightly over 2 meters. They gestate for 11 months; usually giving birth to 1 calf at a time. The young reach adulthood at between 5 to 7 years. A normal life span for a camel is 40 years.

A camel’s hump is a giant mound of fat. In a healthy, well-fed camel, the hump can weigh as much as 35 kilograms. The hump allows a camel to survive an extremely long time without food, if need be.

Camels are cud-chewers. Its mouth is very sturdy enabling it to chew dry, thorny desert plants. Its eyelashes have an interlocking system, of three eye-lids, which automatically shut when necessary; like during sand storms. The first two eye-lids have long eye lashes, which keep out sand; the third eye-lid is transparent and blinks side ways like car wipers, and is transparent allowing camels to see even when their eyes are closed. Its nostrils are shaped to protect it from dust and to trap water vapor and return the vapor to the body during respiration. The ears too, are shaped to protect it from dust and sand. Camels release white salivary stuff when they feel threatened; as the above camel is doing when I got too close to it while taking these photos.

A camel’s neck is long. This enables it to reach leaves and thorns which are high on trees. Its thick, hairy coat reflects sunlight and insulates it from intense desert heat or keeps it warm when it gets cold. Camels are unique: they can survive in extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. Their maintenance is cheap and easy as they can browse and eat a wide range of plant species; and they are very resistant to diseases.

Camels can survive without water or food; depending on the heat and how what luggage it is carrying, a camel can survive for up to 10 days without food or water. If it is cool, it can live even longer without water. In the Sahara, they can go all winter without water.

Camels do not only live in some of the most desolate and inhospitable places on Earth; they thrive there. Where most large animals would perish, camels survive. They are able to do this by their amazing body mechanism and their incredible ability to efficiently use the available resources there; and they are omnivorous and able to eat a most varied type of foods.  

Docile and very good when treated well; camels easily become angry and stubborn when ill treated. No other animal is as endearing to Arabs as the camel; it is said that there are about 160 words for ‘camel’ in the Arabic language. To most Bedouins, camels are a symbol of wealth and strength.

Here, camel meat is cherished; and so is its milk. Both of which, especially its milk – are considered medicinal. Even a camel’s urine is used as medicine for treating hepatitis, cancer, skin diseases, toothache, autism and many other diseases. The urine is also used as an antiseptic. I know for a fact, that women who have used camel urine to wash their hair, their hairs became longer, lighter and more lustrous.

Did you know that camel meat has no fat or cholesterol? As the fat is concentrated on a camel’s hump, its meat is lean and better for us than beef and much better than pork. And did you know that camel’s milk is closer to human milk than cow’s milk and thus better for us? It does not curdle. Is more easily digestible than cow’s milk. It has three times the amount of vitamin C than cow’s milk; is rich in B vitamins and iron.  And it also contains anti-bodies and insulin which can fight diseases.

Able to travel for up to 50 kilometers per day in the harsh, hot deserts; camels have long legs which keep it high from the hot sand. Its feet, with broader hooves than that of horses, has two toes – underneath which are fatty balls of leathery pads or ‘cushions’ which enable it to walk easily on sands. Observe closely at the way camels walk: of all animals, only cats and giraffes are known to walk in the same way – moving both front and back legs on one side of the body and then the other legs on the other side.

Camels are used in all Middle Eastern countries and in many parts of Asia. But, surprisingly, camels’ predecessors are from the Western Hemisphere and they are closely related to llamas, alpacas and vicunas of South America. Did you know that, today, of all people – Somalis, both in Somalia and in Ethiopia, have more camels, per capita, than any other people?

And did you know that, although Arabs use both very well; and love and value both very much, horses detest the smell of camels? In wars, when camels are used against horses – horses are known to become hard to control; and many times they run away from charging camels.

All old great Middle Eastern civilizations, very much depended on camels. The Arabs, the Assyrians, the Persians and the Nabateans all used camels. And so did the Muslim armies that conquered the then super-powers: the Byzantine and the Persian empires in the 7th AD. Whenever one thinks of the Great Prophets of old, camels come to mind. The camel is mentioned several times in the Holly Bible. It is eloquently mentioned in Quran Al Kareem: Do they not look at the Camels, how they are made? ………” Surat al-Ghashiya (17-21).

No other people respect, cherish and value camels as Arabs and Muslims do. No other animal species is as important here as is the camel. It has served us very well before. Is still serving us. And will undoubtedly continue to serve us always. With the present, fast World’s changing climate and as quick as food prices rise – as environmentally friendly a mode of transport as it is; as beneficial a dietary as it is; and as versatile, sustainable and adaptive as it is, the Camel will be a most important part of life here, for as long as it and humans exist.  


Ann Arbor ‘Eidul Adha

By Kawther Mohammed, MCA Sisters Youth Co-ordinator

Ann Arbor–November 27–‘Eidul Adha 1430 in Ann Arbor was joyous and festive, with recitation of the special Eid takbeer projecting from the gym speakers, children running around in excitement, men and women frantically putting their shoes in plastic bags, and tables of food lined up against the walls in the hallways.

The Muslim Community Association of Ann Arbor (MCA) succeeded once again with this year’s ‘Eid celebrations, having invested much time, effort, and money.

One of the primary reasons for holding such large events is to promote the sense of community among members, especially for children. Presenting ‘Eid as an event which bring smiles and happiness through gifts and games, will strengthen the sense of Islamic identity, leaving a lasting impression. With that in mind, the committee members started planning ‘Eidul-Adha prayers immediately after they finished celebrating ‘Eidul-Fitr prayers.

First they needed a facility which could accommodate 5,000 people indoors. At Pioneer High School, a familiar location to many members of the community, the MCA organized the celebration to the last detail. After renting the school’s facilities, brothers and sisters were conveniently designated to the gender-separate gymnasiums for prayer. Tarps were laid out for comfortable prayer.

A variety and abundance of food served on tables lined up in the hallways: Pakistani and Somali samoosa, cheese and zatar bread, chicken sandwiches as well as cheese and broccoli sandwiches added a taste of international food to the Eid prayer.

Muffins and soda, coffee, tea, water, and juices has been standard from the past. To top it all off, the children were able to enjoy cotton candy, popcorn and ice-cream bars. None of that would have been accomplished without the help of many volunteers from among youth and adults and without the cooperation of the staff of Pioneer High School.  Thanks to all who participated and planned the event!



Nutrition for mammals

In almost all mammals, milk is fed to infants through breastfeeding, either directly or by expressing the milk to be stored and consumed later. Some cultures, historically or currently, continue to use breast milk to feed their children until they are 7 years old.

Food product for humans

In many cultures of the world, especially the Western world, humans continue to consume milk beyond infancy, using the milk of other animals (especially cattle, goats and sheep) as a food product. For millennia, cow’s milk has been processed into dairy products such as cream, butter, yogurt, kefir, ice cream, and especially the more durable and easily transportable product, cheese. Modern industrial processes produce casein, whey protein, lactose, condensed milk, powdered milk, and many other food-additive and industrial products.

Humans are an exception in the natural world for consuming milk past infancy, despite the fact that more than 75% of adult humans are lactose intolerant, a characteristic that is more prevalent among individuals of African or Asian descent. The sugar lactose is found only in milk, forsythia flowers, and a few tropical shrubs. The enzyme needed to digest lactose, lactase, reaches its highest levels in the small intestines after birth and then begins a slow decline unless milk is consumed regularly. On the other hand, those groups that do continue to tolerate milk often have exercised great creativity in using the milk of domesticated ungulates, not only of cattle, but also sheep, goats, yaks, water buffalo, horses, and camels. The largest producer and consumer of cattle and buffalo milk in the world is India.