Cabbage Rolls

So the other day I decided to do something a little different for dinner. Something healthy and unusual for my family. I had a head of cabbage that I needed to use up. It had been there for over a week, so I decided to make some cabbage rolls. To be quite honest, I've never made stuffed cabbage rolls before. I've made other stuffed veggies, but never cabbage. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable, so it is very nutritious and healing for the liver. I generally eat my cabbage raw, but this is a cooked cabbage recipe that is very delicious.

All of my daughters lent a helping hand in this activity, so it went rather smoothly. My daughter Nasibah's helping hands, can be seen above rolling the meat and rice mixture into the cabbage. We rolled about 3 heads of cabbage that evening. When we were done we placed all of them in a large buffet pan.

We enjoyed our cabbage rolls with tossed salad and a dessert of mango ice cream. The cabbage rolls were a treat welcomed by the whole family. I will definitely try them again, however next time I think that I'll try the crockpot version of cabbage rolls. Below is the recipe that we used for making our lovely cabbage rolls.


Sweet and Sour Tomato Sauce:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 1/2 quarts crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of an all-natural sugar (honey, raw agave, coconut nectar, or erythritol
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cabbage Rolls:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 pound ground beef
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups steamed brown rice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large heads green cabbage, about 3 pounds each

Coat a 3-quart saucepan with the oil and place over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and sugar; simmer, until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

Place a skillet over medium heat and coat with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the tomato paste, a splash of wine, parsley, and 1/2 cup of the prepared sweet and sour tomato sauce, mix to incorporate and then take it off the heat. Combine the ground meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the egg, the cooked rice, and the sauteed onion mixture. Toss the filling together with your hands to combine, season with a generous amount of salt and pepper.

Next add the cabbage heads to a large pot of boiling water. Blanche the heads of cabbage in the water for about 7-10 minutes. Then shock the cabbage heads in ice cold water. If the leaves do not come off easily, repeat the procedure. Run the leaves under cool water then lay them out so you can assess just how many blankets you have to wrap up the filling. Next, carefully cut out the center vein from the leaves so they will be easier to roll up. Use all the good looking leaves to make the cabbage rolls. Put about 1/2 cup of the meat filling in the center of the cabbage and starting at what was the stem-end, fold the sides in and roll up the cabbage to enclose the filling. Place the cabbage rolls side by side in rows, seam-side down, in a casserole pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Pour the remaining sweet and sour tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls. Fold the hanging leaves over the top to enclose and keep the moisture in. Drizzle the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake for 1 hour until the meat is cooked.

* The small leaves that were too small to make rolls from, I used them in a cabbage stir fry the next day.

Dairy Free, Sugar Free Strawberry Ice Cream

So it's Ramadan and you're still trying to maintain a healthy diet. There are so many unhealthy options out there and you already know that most of the desserts out there aren't good for you. Still you want something to satisfy that sweet tooth. Something that's going to really fill that void for something sweet, yet not make you feel horrible after you eat it.

Well I'm going to tell you, there's nothing like ice cream to give you that pleasurable feeling. Ice cream is one of those things that most people cant say no to. I know that I never could. I mean when I used to be a sugar junky, two of my favorite places to hit up were Baskin & Robbins, and Dairy Queen. Now that I'm a sugar free kitchen chemist, my daughters and I have been whipping up dairy free, sugar free ice cream on a pretty regular basis.

The last ice cream that we made was a delightful strawberry flavor that everyone enjoyed! Firstly, you must know that we acquired our ice maker from Craigslist for only $7.00, and it was never used! It's the old fashioned type and you can either crank it by hand or use the electric device that comes with it, so that it will churn automatically.

So this strawberry ice cream recipe was tweeked from an old recipe that we'd found. This one is definitely a keeper as we enjoyed it a great deal. Homemade ice cream is really easy to make. It would be a really cool activity to do at least once during Ramadan, especially if you have children. My kids love making ice cream, and the fact that its sugar and lactose free is a plus for me. The following is the recipe that we came up with to make our strawberry ice cream.

1 (13.5 oz.) can coconut milk
2 (10 oz.) package of strawberries
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1 Tbsp. vanilla

1. Take 1 package of your strawberries and cut them into rounds. (Set aside)
2. Take all other ingredients and blend them in your Vitamix or powerful blender. (Except for your rounds)
3. Pour contents of vitamix and rounds into ice cream maker and churn for about 40 mins.
4. Eat directly from the ice cream maker, or freeze for several hours if a more firm ice cream is desired.

Our girls plan on passing out homemade ice cream this year as Eid gifts. I can't wait to see the look on our friends faces when they realize that it's all natural with no sugar, dairy or preservatives. Enjoy the recipe and Ramadan Mubarak!

Fast Food For Ramadan

With Ramadan rapidly approaching, I'm hearing the cries of my Muslim sisters asking, "what should I make for sahoor and iftar. It's the same quandary every year I believe. This year I'm taking the same approach as I did last year, except with a lot more insight. At the beginning of this year I did a 30 day juice fast in order to promote healing in my body, as well as weight loss. I learned a lot from that experience, but one of the main things that I learned, is the same principle I learned from last years fasting; it truly doesn't take great amounts of food to nourish a body. What we need is not larger portions of food, but foods with larger portions of nutrients.

Yes this is going to be my motto for Ramadan, "make every morsel nutrient dense." Quite honestly, I'm not into the idea of fixing these huge iftars and sahoors. With this practice we're spending the majority of our precious, time during this most blessed month slaving in the kitchen morning and night trying to make these big elaborate meals during Ramadan. Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against big meals during Ramadan, especially when I'm invited to one! I'm not going to turn down a nice iftar with family and friends. However I'd personally prefer to spend more of my time during this month doing spiritual acts of worship. Yes I know cooking can be an ibadah as well, however cutting time in the kitchen leaves more time for things like, going to the Masjid, getting up for Tahajjud prayers, reading my 30th of Qur'an reading, volunteering to cook for the shelter and many other practices that I like to do during Ramadan.

So what foods are going to be on my menu this year that are easy to prepare and nutrient dense? My number one fast food will be smoothies. Yes smoothies! Not what comes to most peoples minds when they think of Ramadan meals, however I say "why not?" There are so many different varieties that you could never get bored. However, I will primarily be going for the green smoothies. Especially, those made from Kale. Kale is a cruciferous food that is loaded with potassium and many other nutrients that allow the body to heal itself. It's especially healing for the liver. The other great thing about smoothies, is that it is easy to add extra nutrients to them with add ins such as, hemp seeds, chia seeds, spirulina, wheat grass juice, vitamin C and other revitalizing supplements. Since we wont be eating as much food as we normally eat, every bit of nutrients that we add in counts. I even believe that taking a really good multi vitamin at this time could prove to be very beneficial. Make sure that you chose one that is from plant based sources though, and not a synthetic vitamin.

Some sisters have asked me, "how about doing smoothies only during Ramadan?" To this I say, be very cautious. You don't want to end up loosing too many nutrients from your diet. I'd have a sensible meal like an egg, sprouted wheat toast or possibly some brown rice, along with one or two hydrating smoothies with possibly kale, cucumbers, lemon and a fruit of choice, (mine is pineapple), add in supplements that your body needs, water and ice ofcourse, and call that sahoor. For iftar, I'd make a regular dinner, protein, veggies and a small amount of carbs such as brown rice, quinoa, barley, or some other whole grain or sprouted seeds. Then once my meal digested maybe have another green smoothie, and/or an nice fruit smoothie for dessert. My favorite is strawberry and banana with almond milk or yogurt and ice. If you need a little sweetener in it, add some stevia. Oh and don't forget to drink your water.

Inshallah, I will be making more blog posts about fast, healing foods that you can add to your table during the holy month of Ramadan.

Yogurt In A Crockpot

By: Ameera Rahim

Did you know it is easy to make your own yogurt? save money and make a nice healthy yogurt for you and your family.

There are many methods to making homemade yogurt; on the stove, in the oven and in the crockpot.

This easy crockpot method is one I love, Ma'shaAllah! All you need it patience, a yogurt starter (small container of yogurt for the live cultures), crockpot and a gallon milk.

You can buy live cultures, but we've found it's easier to get a small cup of plain yogurt from the grocery store. Live cultures are said to help those who are lactose intolerant to digest the milk better.
Also organic whole milk would be a great choice for this homemade yogurt. If you are vegan there are many recipes that use hemp seed milk, almond milk, coconut milk and other non-dairy milks.

To make this yogurt:

Pour a gallon of milk in the crockpot
Place it on high for 2.5 hours
let cool undisturbed for three hours

Now test the yogurt temp, If you can put your finger in the crockpot for 10 seconds then you can move to the next step:

Take out two cups of warm milk, mix in the yogurt starter and then pour it back into the crockpot and mix it.

Wrap the crockpot with a towel, to help the yogurt cool down slowly and then let it sit for 11 hours. Some people put it in the oven of course with the oven OFF, just as an extra way of locking in the heat. This is optional, just don't forget that the crockpot is in the oven! Then take it out and place in jars and refrigerate right away

Enjoy with your favorite fruit topping and honey or homemade granola Ma'shaAllah its very good!!