The Labels Halal & Zabihah And Why I Choose Local And Organic Instead

Organic Broiled Chicken
The Muslim community, in general, has become obsessed with the way an animal is slaughtered, despite the fact that our tradition actually speaks not just about the way an animal is slaughtered but how it is treated during its life.  Duh!  Why do we call meat ”halal” when only the last step of the animal’s life is according to ‘Islamic’ (Read: ethical) principles.  That’s right, the meat labeled ‘halal’ is most likely from the same factory farm as any other meat in the grocery store– just slaughtered in a different way.  Most people don’t realize that the ‘halal’ label refers only to the way the animal has been killed.

In the era of factory farms and hormone-fed animals, the label of “halal” has been watered down and exists only as an empty brand name.  If you are a heartless person who doesn’t care about the treatment of animals, consider this of your beloved label:

“75 percent of Halal meat in America produced in the year 2000 came from pork fed cows, according to Dr. Stephen Emanuel, from Agway Feed Company.” - SoundVision

Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels that ‘halal’ doesn’t mean much.  Check out the new stream of ‘organic and halal’ meat suppliers like GreenZabiha, founded by Yasir Syeed. (Full disclosure: I photographed his brother’s wedding)

“Muslims are directed in the Quran to eat food that is Halal and Tayyib. Halal is defined as food that is permissible according to Islamic law. Tayyib means wholesome, pure, nutritious and safe. Traditionally, Muslims in North America have emphasized the Halal over the Tayyib when it comes to meat consumption, Hussaini says.” – SoundVision

(More disclosure: That quote was from 10 years ago, but the emphasis on the method of slaughtering of the animal over the health and treatment of the animal hasn’t changed much.)

Some Muslims like to use the excuse that when someone sells you ‘halal’ food you should take it at face value, as they are the one making the claim. I don’t buy that. Read on »

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Falafel, Ta’amiya, Whatever You Call It, Here’s A Recipe!

Last week, I shared Amer‘s recipe for hummus and it got such a great response that I’m posting this falafel recipe a little bit early.  I’m gradually cutting more and more meat out of my diet, and as a result I have to come up with vegetarian dishes for dinner.   While deep frying isn’t exactly the healthiest thing in the world, it’s definitely a nice treat every now and then!  Just like the hummus recipe, this involves throwing everything in a food processor– the only extra step is frying.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb bag of dry chick peas (soaked overnight)
  • 1 whole bulb of garlic
  • 1 medium size onion
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 1 cup Italian (It’s the flat-leaf kind) parsley
  • 1 table spoon coriander powder (freshly ground if possible)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cumin powder (freshly ground if possible)
  •  ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ teaspoon (kosher or sea salt)
  • pinch of baking soda
  • oil to deep fry

Read on »

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“This Is The Best Hummus I’ve Ever Had.”

Lots of people say that about my hummus, but I’ll let you in on a little secret– I stole it from my friend Amer. This hummus is a regular staple at the Friday Prayers we hold at my house, and all I get are rave reviews. So thanks Amer, for making me a super popular guy in Blacksburg, VA.

Sure, it tastes absolutely amazing, but the best part is it’s really easy to make. See all that stuff up there ? Throw it all in a food processor. (shh! the garlic is hiding!)

1 can chick peas. Rinsed and drained.
3 cloves of garlic (mash into paste w/ salt) (I never mash it into a paste, I just throw all this stuff in)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup of yogurt (can add more or less if you like)
pinch of cumin powder 1/4 tsp or less (I go for a full 1/4 tsp)
cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp or less (depends if you like to add a kick…)
1.5 lemons of juice
4-5 tbsp tahini (I do 5)

Flip the switch or push the button… and leave your processor running for a full minute.

Now, dump it all in a round plate or glass pie pan. Make pretty circular design with a spatula by turning the plate.

Top with lots of olive oil and a bunch of sumac.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Breakfast Berry Quinoa (Welcome Kiran!)

recipe1-3

HijabMan’s Note: Please welcome our new guest blogger, Kiran. She’ll be posting healthy recipes and whatever else she feels like writing. She also blogs at 400Degrees

Salaams, Greetings & Hello I’m Kiran!

HijabMan and I have been friends for some time, but I didn’t really get to know him until he photographed my wedding two years ago. At the time I was living in Indiana and have since moved to Connecticut. After getting married I had to face several adjustments: I was beginning a masters program (I’m a librarian by training), I was moving to some strange unheard of state, and after so long, I had to share my space with another person. Fortunately he likes books and I like shelving them (not that a real librarian would).
Read on »

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Why I Concern Myself With Frozen Breast Milk

Disclaimer: I totally respect women’s abilities to make their own decisions about their bodies, and I’m not trying to argue that men taking an interest in these issues means that any man should have the final say on any woman’s decision.

With the very real chance of widespread power outages due to Hurricane Irene, a note on Facebook explaining the safety of refreezing breast milk was passed around. I posted it and within a few minutes, a woman asked why I as a man should be so concerned with breast milk.

Multiple reasons with the simplest first.

1. I’m a human being, and I like learning about everything… so that I can be a resource for people who don’t know.

2. Most of my friends are female. And I care about half of the human population.

3. I have a wife who travels a lot. So frozen breastmilk or breast milk sharing (yes, I am familiar, and a proponent) will eventually be a reality for me.

4. Most importantly, I believe every man should know about women’s bodies — form and function. It makes men better fathers, partners, lovers, and friends.
Read on »

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My Hate-Turned-Love Relationship With Running. Part 2.

Obi100 + Router + Cheap Phone

In Part 1, I described how much I hated running and papayas. And then I told you about how my super-athlete in-laws got me to sign up for an 11 kilometer run:

“[They are] so athletic, in fact, that they took advantage of my newly married, I-don’t-speak-metric, willing-to-do-anything-to-impress-you self, and suggested we all split up into teams and participate in Malaysia’s Powerman competition. This involves each of us finishing either an 11K run, a 64K bike, or 10K run.

Long story short, I’m running my first-ever 11K in a little more than two weeks. In order to prepare for the event, I promptly read dozens of articles on barefoot-running, bought a pair of Vibram FiveFingers, and laid down on the couch. 11 kilometers. That’s 1/2 mile, right?”

Well, I did it. I ran 11 kilometers (6.835 miles) non-stop, with a time of 1 hour and 9 minutes, in ‘barefoot’ shoes’. And it felt like nothing. I actually enjoyed it!

See, I’m the kind of person that lives off of small, happy interactions. In fact, I get so much energy from someone smiling and wishing me a good day that I feel like bouncing around for hours afterwards. That’s exactly what happened during my run. I started waving and smiling at everyone standing on the street watching– the race officials, food vendors, and little kids.

It didn’t feel like work at all, and before I knew it I crossed the finish line way ahead of my competition, my sister-in-law Lin!

Read on »

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My Love-Hate Relationship With Papayas. Or My Just-Hate Relationship With Running.

Every few months, my parents pick one particular type of fruit and eat it all the time. Papaya was the fruit of choice a month before I left for Penang, and every single time you opened their fridge, you’d see the same uncovered, rectangular-shaped tupperware brimming with the stuff. It truly is the way to my parents’ hearts, and one very special person unknowingly discovered that fact. Believe it or not, that papaya-filled piece of plastic is the reason I’m married!

Read on »

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