Halal Rice Crispy Squares

Some of you are probably already wondering why rice crispy squares wouldn’t be halal in the first place. No? Perhaps by now most are aware that it’s all about the gelatin. The main ingredient in marshmallows is gelatin, which is produced from the chemical transformation of an animal product called collagen. Many Muslims choose to avoid eating gelatin, and this unfortunately involves a sacrifice of our love for marshmallows…and yes, of course that includes rice crispy’s. If this is your dilemma, fret no more! These rice crispy treats are gelatin free thus making them deliciously halal. They are quick to prepare and absolutely scrumptious. I mean, lets be honest, who doesn’t LOVE rice crispy squares?!? These are the perfect little treats for kids, just cut them up and wrap them individually and add them to their lunchbox! Of course adults love them too, and if it were up to me I’d say they were much too good for children…in fact, they are a particularly low in calories! Only about 100 calories per bar, albeit, not that high in nutritive value…but hey, it doesn’t hurt to eat these deliciously soft, chewy, crispy wonder treats every once in a while! I certainly won’t judge you.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 0 minutes
Yield: ~12 medium sized squares

Ingredients

  • 1/4 c. margarine or butter
  • 1 Jar (7 1/2oz) Marshmallow spread (i.e. fluff)
  • 5 cups crispy rice cereal (any brand will do)

Directions

  1. First, butter 3 x 9 x 2-inch pan (I use a larger pan when cutting shapes)
  2. Melt margarine or butter in saucepan on medium low heat or in the microwave in a microwaveable bowl
  3. Add marshmallow spread to sauce pan and continue to mix until it incorporates well with the butter/margarine. If using the microwave, add fluff and heat in microwave for another 30-45 seconds, or until fluff is melted enough to mix in with the butter/margarine.
  4. Once melted, remove saucepan from heat and add crispy rice one cup at a time while mixing well, I find that a rubber spatula works best with mixing!
  5. Using the rubber spatula, press mixture evenly into pan
  6. Let cool slightly in the fridge and cut out shapes while still soft, or cut into squares when completely cool
  7. Enjoy!

Tip: For a lower calorie snack (80 calories), you can simply omit the butter/margarine, melt the fluff using a saucepan/microwave and continue from step 4!

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Homemade Yogurt Recipe {لبن}

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If you’ve never made yogurt at home, you are in for a pleasant surprise. It’s not only super easy to make, it’s also tastier and healthier than store bought yogurt. We grew up to homemade yogurt being the norm in our home, with giant pots of homemade yogurt setting on the counter top or filling the fridge shelf.The process of making yogurt is so simple that you can have fresh yogurt in less than twelve hours.

Fresh yogurt is free of additives and boasts a much higher number of live bacteria culture. This means it’s more beneficial for your digestive system than yogurt that has been sitting around on your grocery store shelf. Making your own yogurt is also a lot cheaper, and that’s a big deal for us considering how much yogurt we go through. With homemade you also have the option of controlling the fat content of your yogurt. We like ours creamy and thick so we almost always use 3.25% homo milk, but you can make it just as well with lower fat content milk.

As you might already know, many Lebanese recipes incorporate yogurt in one way or another. Making yogurt at home makes it so we always have a fresh supply and enough yogurt for all our family recipes. Of course, we must not forget that one of the most important reason we make yogurt at home is so we can make labne spread. We could never get the tart flavor we enjoy in our spread if we didn’t start off with homemade yogurt.

You Will Need

Ingredients

4 liters 3.25% homo milk (or however much you’d like to make)
1 cup of yogurt with live culture OR Starter

Equipment

Instant-read or candy thermometer (optional but highly recommended)
Heavy Pot
Whisk
Measuring cup
Small bowl
Ceramic pot – this is to both make the yogurt in and store in fridge. It’s
optional and absolutely unnecessary to the final product, but it helps keep
milk warm while it incubates and stores well.
Blanket – for insulation

Instructions

Heat milk. Pour milk into heavy pot and place over medium low to medium high depending on your stove type. If you are using an electric stove keep your heat on the lower end and stir periodically to keep milk from scorching on the bottom. If you are using a gas stove keep your heat on the higher end (no need to stir). Heat milk to 185°F /85°C which is the temperature at which milk starts to froth. It is very important to keep an eye on your milk as it gets closer to frothing to keep it from boiling over.

Cool milk. Remove milk from heat and let cool down to 110°F /43°C. If you are not using a thermometer (highly recommended) you can test the milk with you finger once it is cool to touch. You will know it is at the right temperature once you you are able hold your finger in the milk to the count of nine before it starts to feel too hot. this odd but effective method was sent down by generations of grandmothers before they had access to  modern conveniences such as thermometers.

To transfer or not to transfer. If you choose to finish the process in the same pot, then continue to next step. However, if you would like to transfer your warm milk into a different pot you need to take some factors into consideration. Milk transfer will cool the milk down so keep that in mind when choosing when to transfer the milk. If you are transferring into a clay pot as we like to do, remember that insulated pots will keep milk from cooling for a longer amount of time. If we are strapped for time, we let it cool in the heavy pot until just before it’s ready to incubate and then transfer and finish the process.

Add starter. Reserve one cup of warmed milk in separate bowl and add room temperature yogurt or dried bacterial culture and whisk. Add milk and yogurt mixture to remaining milk, whisk in gently and cover.

Incubate bacteria. Set milk in an undisturbed area and cover with blanket to keep temperature close to 100°F /38 °C. At the Seven hour mark your yogurt should be ready. Type of culture, temperature and your personal preference all affect the time required for yogurt to set. Leaving it longer will result in a thicker tart yogurt (our favorite kind of yogurt).

Cool down. Place pot in the fridge and let cool completely before cutting into yogurt. Homemade yogurt will keep for two to three weeks in fridge.

Storage. Once yogurt is ready you may notice some whey water rising to the top. You can either stir it back into the yogurt or pour it off. Finally,you can leave yogurt in pot or transfer to smaller containers.

Now that you have made your own yogurt, you will never need to buy yogurt again. Just set aside a cup of yogurt as a starter for your next batch.

How to put together Money Envelopes | Ramadan/Eid Decor – FREE Download

These free DIY printables are made to help bring up spirits in the holy month. This post is to show you how to put together the EID MUBARAK envelopes!

What you’ll need to put them together:
Printable templates
8.5×11″ paper (preferably cardstock)
Printer
Scissors
Tape/Glue

1.Start off with the templates that you have printed


Continue reading “How to put together Money Envelopes | Ramadan/Eid Decor – FREE Download”

Stuffed Grapevine Leaves: Vegetarian {ورق عنب بالزيت}

Stuffed grapevine leaves are a favorite food across the board in our family, as well as most of the middle east! This is definitely a trademark Lebanese dish that is enjoyed by anyone with a pallette for its savoury-sour flavour. Stuffed grape vine leaves are generally a vegetarian dish, however, there is a meat version for all you meat lovers out there! Grape Vine leaves are generally served as a mezza and/or side dish rather than a main, but who are we to tell you how to eat this glorious dish? Bon-Appetit!

Continue reading “Stuffed Grapevine Leaves: Vegetarian {ورق عنب بالزيت}”

Ramadan Kareem / Eid Mubarak Party Decor – FREE downloable

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Our sister Emma, who runs Path of Light Designs has designed some cute and modern Ramadan and Eid downloadable party decor. It features a white backdrop with cute black polka dots and gold glitter text!

Continue reading “Ramadan Kareem / Eid Mubarak Party Decor – FREE downloable”

30 Day Ramadan Photo Challenge!

 

During Ramadan, we like to prepare fancy feasts and desserts on a daily basis, ironically enough most of us like to think of Ramadan as the month of feasting rather than fasting! Since you’re all already going through the trouble of preparing wonderful cultural dishes each day we invite you to join us in our 30 Day Ramadan Photo Challenge!

Here’s how it works:

Continue reading “30 Day Ramadan Photo Challenge!”

Ramadan Kareem!

Ramadan is one of the Holy Months in the Hijri (Lunar) Calendar in Islam. During this time Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, and we mark the end with the celebration of Eid Al-Fitr (Literally means to break fast). During this time we will be releasing a few recipes that are healthy and delicious, which are perfect to have for Iftar (breaking the fast). Traditionally, one should break their fast on a Date, and then continue to have their prepared meal. We will post everything from Mezza to Dessert, all traditionally eaten during this month. Growing up our Ramadan experience consisted of decorating the house with beautiful decorations, and as we grew older it meant spending a little more time preparing meals each day. You’d think it would be difficult to fast and prepare a feast, but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. Each day our menu included a soup, salad and side of samosas, baked pies or something special that our mom would cook up. This year we can’t wait to share those recipes with our readers!

Any requests can be left in the comments, or on Facebook 🙂

Ramadan Kareem everyone!

Cards from http://www.pathoflightdesigns.etsy.com

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Cards from:
http://www.pathoflightdesigns.etsy.com
http://www.facebook.com/PathOfLightDesigns

Basic Dough Recipe {عجين}

This dough recipe is good for any Lebanese appetizer/pies that requires dough. Including but not limited to meat pies, spinach pies, cheese pies, za’atar pies and even pizza!

Continue reading “Basic Dough Recipe {عجين}”

DIY: Ice Globes | Outdoor Home Decor

This is the perfect winter activity for your kids and it takes no time at all! All you need is balloons, food coloring and water. Oh, and some kids perhaps, unless you want to do it for yourself, for fun. That’s cool too!

Continue reading “DIY: Ice Globes | Outdoor Home Decor”

12 easy ways to snack healthy!

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Being a student, or having a full time job (that includes stay at home moms!) can often mean a significant compromise in our eating habits, particularly our snacking habits…I know I become a sporadic grazer! If you’re anything like me, you love to snack while in lecture, while studying or reading a book, watching TV, replying to emails, or while doing just about anything else. Having healthy snacks in between your main meals does in fact help keep your metabolism consistent- which is a good thing for weight loss, but more importantly for weight maintenance. The problem is, snacking is a double edge sword. Snack right and you reap benefits, snack wrong on the other hand…and you definitely suffer the consequences, in inches- and inches don’t lie!

When you start munching on the wrong munchies, it’s time to pause and re-evaluate your diet!

I know it takes great brainpower to come up with different snacking idea’s each and every day. I also know how much effort it to prepare these snacks. Like I tell every one of my consults, no pain no gain! Snacking healthy does require commitment, and here are 12 easy ideas to get you started!

Tip: If you have children keep in mind that good food role-modeling is an important determinant of how a child’s eating habits and health will develop as they grow. Children love to snack, especially when they are going through growth spurts. Helping them develop healthy snacking habits from a young age by snacking healthy yourself is an important step to helping them build healthy lifelong eating habits.

1. Baby carrots and Dip
Calories: 35 calories/10 baby carrots, 70 calories/tbsp Ranch

Simple enough? I think so! Carrots are extremely low in calories and ranch is very reasonable calorie wise. If you want to cut more calories, buy the low fat ranch. Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a precursor for vitamin A, which promotes healthy glowing skin, aids in cancer prevention, is an important contributor to good vision…and I could go on all day. Crunch away!

2. Apples/celery and peanut butter
Calories: 65 calories/apple, 5 calories/stick, 180 calories/2tbsp. Peanut Butter

One apple will contribute some vitamin C and dietary fiber to your diet. Celery on the other hand is way more impressive in my opinion; Did you know you expend more energy digesting celery than you gain eating it? This effectively makes celery negative calories. Don’t trip over yourself now as you run off to the grocery store to stalk up! (pun intended). Celery is also a source of Vitamin K, and as a bonus it is SUPER fun to fill up the middle cavity of celery sticks with peanut butter. Peanut butter is a different story when it comes to calories but it is jam packed with goodness. A whopping 12g of hearty unsaturated fats, 8 g of protein and a good amount of vitamin B6 and Magnesium. Now that’s what we nutritionists like to call nutrient-dense calories.

3. Crackers and cheese with grapes
Calories:
113 calories/1.5oz cheese, 60 calories/cup grapes

This is the kind of snack that most of us eat in our childhood. One serving of cheddar cheese (1.5 oz slice the size of your middle and index fingers together) equals around 113 calories of saturated fats, unsaturated fats and calcium. Crackers on the other hand can differ depending on type so make sure to check the box before you take a generous helping. Whole wheat/whole grain are definitely a more nutrient dense option and they can provide you with a few extra grams of fiber if you choose carefully! As for grapes they are about 60 calories/cup and oh so fun to eat. With numbers that low, make it 2 cups. Bring on the grapes.

4. Yogurt and all bran buds with strawberries
Calories:
150 calories/cup low fat yogurt, 80 calories/0.33 cup all bran buds, 25 calories/0.5 cup strawberries

The snack industry seems to be all about yogurt these days. Probiotics are definitely the benefit of snacking on yogurt, they provide healthy gut flora and promote regularity. Aside from that, yogurt will provide you with calcium, vitamin D, healthy fats and even protein (12 g/cup); for all the goodness it contains, these calories are well worth it. All-Bran buds, what some would call ‘bird food’, are actually an extremely high source of dietary fiber, the highest I’ve seen in a food BY FAR! 1/3 cup will provide you with half your required intake of fiber for the day. I bet you those numbers are going to make you reconsider? No? Just give it a try. Topping your yogurt and all bran buds with strawberries will add a splash of color, make for a pretty instagram worthy photo and of course add a little vitamin C and antioxidents to the mix.

5. Pretzels and Labne
Calories:
125 calories/20 pretzels, 60 calories/2tbsp. labne

Pretzels are one of those snacks that nobody seems to ever crave, but once you put a bowl out everyone enjoys them. They do tend to be a better snacking option since they are baked and not fried. Calories can differ depending on the brand so make sure to check the bag. Pretzels can contribute some B-vitamins, Iron and fiber to your diet, but overall their best feature is that they are generally fat-free. Labne is a delicious dipping option, it is high in calcium and vitamin D, so the calories can be guilt free.

6. Cucumbers, zaatar and labne
Calories:
8 calories/0.5 cup cucumbers, 60 calories/2tbsp. labne, 10 calories/tbsp. zaatar

Cucumbers are juicy, fresh and who doesn’t love them? Did I mention the calorie count is practically negligent and they are made up of 95% water? If you are like me and just aren’t a ‘water person’, try eating vegetables that will hydrate you instead! Again, dip your cucumbers into labne and for that extra zing, roll it into dry zaatar…trust me, you won’t regret packing this snack to school.

7. shredded carrots with lemon juice
Calories:
45 calories/1 cup shredded carrots, 3 calories/tbsp lemon juice

I think at this point I already discussed how absolutely wonderful carrots are for the soul…and health! Grate them (I use my food processor to do this), squeeze some lemon juice on top, and garnish them with a dash of cumin. Voila! Get this, 1 cup of shredded carrots is only 45 calories. Take that in. The lemon juice calories are not even worth counting, but the vitamin C is! Each tablespoon of lemon juice will also give you around 15% of your daily requirement for vitamin C.

8. Dried fruits and nuts eaten with plain yogurt on the side
Calories:
150 calories/cup low fat yogurt, 200 calories/0.33 cup whole almonds or whole walnuts

Dried fruits are an excellent source of fiber, depending on the type, they can provide a few grams for just a small handful. Nuts, are also a great addition to any diet, they are also high in fiber, high in unsaturated fats including omega 3’s, high in Vitamin E and depending on the kind they can be high in minerals such as calcium (Almonds) or Magnesium (Almonds and Walnuts). That said, there is some bad news when it comes to eating nuts, they are hefty in their calorie count so don’t go overboard here. A nice handful of two of mixed nuts and dried fruit should do for the day. Need I talk about the goodness of yogurt again?

9. Fresh salted Snow peas
Calories:
100 calories/cup

As simple as that. 1 cup of these gives you about 100 calories as well as some vitamin A, C, K, protein and B vitamins. Add a dash of salt and crunch on these for a healthy alternative.

10. Baba ghanouj and baked pita chips
Calories:
200 calories/0.5 cup baba ghanouj

I just love Baba Ghanouj! The best part is, the canned version is surprisingly good making this snack literally as easy as 1-2-3. Baba Ghanouj will give you jam packed goodness of Manganese, Folate, Vitamin K and B vitamins from the eggplant and of course vitamin E from any the sesame seed oil used. I make my own baked pita chips too to spare myself the excess sodium and fat found in store bought ones! Here is the 411- Simply brush some pita with a tiny bit of olive oil and put it in the counter top grill for a minute or two. While you’re waiting, open the can of Baba Ghanouj and pour it into a plate. Dip and eat, and thank me later.

11. Peppers and Hummus
Calories:
30 calories/cup peppers

The more I write, the more I can’t decide which snack is my favorite. Most people wouldn’t think to pair hummus with peppers, when it is in fact delicious, and nutritious! Plus, peppers are just beautiful to look at. As for hummus, see our post on 10 reasons to eat more chickpeas to learn about just how nutritious they are.

12. Cherry tomatoes and feta cheese
Calories:
30 calories/cup tomatoes, 100 calories/0.25 cup feta cheese, 10 calories/tbsp. zaatar

Last but most definitely not least, cherry tomaties, feta cheese, and a sprinkle of oregano or mint…or both! This is a flavorful combination, it is pretty to look at and yes, it is nutritious. Tomatoes contain cancer fighting compounds called Lycopene. Cheeses tend to be higher in calories, but to be fair, this snack needs only a small mount of feta cheese to provide the necessary flavor! Feta cheese will also add calcium and vitamin D to your diet.