Every American Muslims' Haram Vs. Halal Food Guide, In 4 Bite-Sized Steps

Every American Muslims' Haram Vs. Halal Food Guide, In 4 Bite-Sized Steps

Since the debut of apps in 2008, eating halal has never been easier!
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To Muslims, eating halal is a religious dietary requirement, much like Kosher is to Jews — except stricter and rarely catered to in the Western world. Whereas Jews can be assured a product is Kosher by the symbol on the package and toss into the cart, a Muslim's trip to the grocery store means donning your undercover CIA foodie hijab and printing yourself a nutritionist certification. Back in the day, to make sure all the food we're purchasing is halal, each product underwent a preliminary, scrutinizing scan, a thorough background check supported by online research and was followed by a phone call to the parent company to correlate our findings with their database listings of the ingredients' sources. Now, since 2008 and the introduction of apps, eating halal has become so much easier. Although it's still the same extensive process, verifying the haram/halal status of your food has become simple enough that it can be boiled down to four easy steps!


1. Download the Scan Halal app or any other that fits your needs best.

There's a whole slew of halal scan apps available, including the E-Numbers scanner for Muslims living in the European Union as well as the Halal Food app by the creator and owner of Muslim Consumer, Rasheed Ahmed, but from the ones I have tried, Scan Halal has proven to be the most effective due its comprehensive database. It lists various products, especially those most commonly purchased, and it even lists where in the U.S. each product is being scanned!

When you first open the app, it will ask you for to select your "halal settings," which translates to, how strict do you want to be? Always choose "zabiha" — all ingredients derived from animal (unless halal certified) and alcohol will be considered not permissible — because one, that's what "halal" requires anyways, and two, because if you mistakenly do eat haram, you will lose 40 days of ibaadat (rewards for your good deeds, even your daily five prayers)! That's why it's better to be safe than sorry in this case.

You can customize your settings further as well. The Scan Halal app lists every ingredient in the product and explains exactly why that said ingredient is halal or haram. This helps me narrow down exactly what I need to ask the ingredient specialists when I call the product's company to verify the information present.

Why would I do that if the app already confirms the product's status?

Because unfortunately, like every other halal/haram app out there, most of the times that status is "unknown," so that requires a bit more digging than usual. The halal apps are all still undergoing development today, but it's a great leap in progress so far, considering how difficult it was to break down a whole ingredients list yourself less than 10 years ago!

2. If your app pulls up "unknown" for the food's status, look for dietary symbols.

On the front of every package, there will be a dietary symbol. Can you find it on the carton above?

The most common symbols are "U," "UD" and "K." All three symbols stand for Kosher, with the first two referring to the dairy present in the product. These symbols also mean that all the fat-based ingredients in the product (except diary) are from a vegetable source (as long as the ingredients list also does not contain any of the following: wine, alcohol, gelatin and L-Cysteine).

Meat, on the other hand, is held to a more rigid halal standard based on the way it's slaughtered. In Islam, if the animal in question is not halal to begin with (i.e. pig, which is not permissible for Muslims to consume in any way, shape or form), then that meat is automatically haram. Halal meat only comes from land animals with free flowing blood, like deer, rabbits, cows and chickens, to name a few. However, the animal cannot simply be slaughtered and count as halal meat; it must be sacrificed in the name of God (Allah) using a certain procedure known as qurbani.

The qurbani method not only lessens the animal's suffering and serves as a quick, efficient process, but it also promotes cage-free, natural growth of animals and caps the Muslim population's consumption of meat to healthy boundaries. This is why Muslims avoid the carcass meat of any and every animal butchered at your local factory.

So, if the symbol on the product is either of the three letter combinations above, then it passes the preliminary checks! The next thing to consider is the ingredients list.

3. Are any of the ingredients listed 100 percent haram?

It's most certainly possible, even with dietary symbols like Kosher, because unlike Muslims, Jews drink alcohol and wine.

Check for any of the haram ingredients listed below:

  • Gelatin (including Kosher version)
  • L-Cysteine — found in high-protein foods
  • Liquor, beer batter, rum flavor or wine (including wine vinegar)
  • Any grape wine by product (like powder, oil or seed extract)
  • Ethyl alcohol or ethanol
  • Cochineal or carmine — often found in food coloring
  • Naturally brewed soy sauce — uses alcohol during process
  • Brewer yeast extract
  • Vanilla extract (any natural vanilla) — uses alcohol during process
  • Confectionary glaze or resinous glaze

4. And if there are any ingredients listed that you don't recognize...

Call the company branded on the product, and ask: "Are there any animal derivatives in this product? Is there any alcohol in this product or was any alcohol used in the ingredients to create this product?"

Some common ingredients you will need to call to ask about are:

  • Torula yeast (if grown on alcohol) — found in processed foods
  • Carrageenan (if made with ethyl alcohol) — found in dairy products
  • Natural flavoring*
  • Artificial flavoring*

You may have difficulty determining the halal/haram status of the last two flavoring ingredients, because companies will claim that information is "proprietary." In simpler terms, because those ingredients are under 1 percent, they fall under the umbrella category of "natural" or "artificial" flavor, and they help to maintain the originality of the manufacturer's product so it cannot be replicated.

In this case, it's best to clarify that you are not asking for specific ingredients, you are simply concerned if there is any alcohol used or present in the natural or artificial flavoring. More often that not, the company specialist will then put you on hold and consult a manager first before answering your question truthfully, but some are quite secretive and may require a few emails to assure them you are not attempting to steal trade secrets.


Even if it's tough to narrow down ingredients, particularly in the Western world, eating halal is not a challenge if you use the resources available to you, stay updated with nutrition facts and listings on Muslim Consumer and always call and ask to confirm!

If you do your best, Allah (swt) will make it easy for you.

...Verily, Allah does not destroy the rewards of those who do good. (Qurān 11:115)
Cover Image Credit: Anne Preble / Unsplash

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Sorry Not Sorry, My Parents Paid For My Coachella Trip

No haters are going to bring me down.
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With Coachella officially over, lives can go back to normal and we can all relive Beyonce’s performance online for years to come. Or, if you were like me and actually there, you can replay the experience in your mind for the rest of your life, holding dear to the memories of an epic weekend and a cultural experience like no other on the planet.

And I want to be clear about the Beyonce show: it really was that good.

But with any big event beloved by many, there will always be the haters on the other side. The #nochella’s, the haters of all things ‘Chella fashion. And let me just say this, the flower headbands aren’t cultural appropriation, they’re simply items of clothing used to express the stylistic tendency of a fashion-forward event.

Because yes, the music, and sure, the art, but so much of what Coachella is, really, is about the fashion and what you and your friends are wearing. It's supposed to be fun, not political! Anyway, back to the main point of this.

One of the biggest things people love to hate on about Coachella is the fact that many of the attendees have their tickets bought for them by their parents.

Sorry? It’s not my fault that my parents have enough money to buy their daughter and her friends the gift of going to one of the most amazing melting pots of all things weird and beautiful. It’s not my fault about your life, and it’s none of your business about mine.

All my life, I’ve dealt with people commenting on me, mostly liking, but there are always a few that seem upset about the way I live my life.

One time, I was riding my dolphin out in Turks and Cacaos, (“riding” is the act of holding onto their fin as they swim and you sort of glide next to them. It’s a beautiful, transformative experience between human and animal and I really think, when I looked in my dolphin’s eye, that we made a connection that will last forever) and someone I knew threw shade my way for getting to do it.

Don’t make me be the bad guy.

I felt shame for years after my 16th birthday, where my parents got me an Escalade. People at school made fun of me (especially after I drove into a ditch...oops!) and said I didn’t deserve the things I got in life.

I can think of a lot of people who probably don't deserve the things in life that they get, but you don't hear me hating on them (that's why we vote, people). Well, I’m sick of being made to feel guilty about the luxuries I’m given, because they’ve made me who I am, and I love me.

I’m a good person.

I’m not going to let the Coachella haters bring me down anymore. Did my parents buy my ticket and VIP housing? Yes. Am I sorry about that? Absolutely not.

Sorry, not sorry!

Cover Image Credit: Kaycie Allen

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Who Said Donuts Can't Be Healthy?

A delicious, healthy, and sweet apple cake donut recipe with a maple glaze!
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Everyone loves donuts. Whether it be chocolate sprinkled or original glazed. Donuts have sparked a phenomenon during the 21st century. There are more local donut & coffee shops popping up in major cities now more than ever before.

From gourmet homemade donuts to the classic Krispy Kreme. This delectable sweet is delicious and definitely worth enjoying.

One local donut shop I have discovered is called, Fōnut. This sweet little donut shop is based in Los Angeles. Fōnut is not like any other donut shop, instead, these bakers have put a modern twist on this traditional sweet treat.

Fōnut’s are slightly healthier than traditional donuts because they are baked instead of fried. Many of their donuts are also gluten-free and vegan. Flavors like Vanilla Latte or Blueberry Earl Grey can be found at this little donut shop.

After reading about Fōnut it inspired me to find a healthier alternative recipe to these delectable sweets. I believe I have found the perfect alternative donut recipe that is delicious and pretty healthy.

Enjoy these Apple Cake Donuts for breakfast or dessert any day of the week!

Recipe:

Apple Cake Donuts.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Almond Milk

1/4 cup Maple Syrup

1/4 Coconut Sugar

1/4 Coconut Oil

Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

1 Egg

1 1/8 cup Brown Rice Flour

1 cup shredded Apple

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Baking Soda

Creamy Maple Glaze Icing:

¼ cup maple syrup

¼ cup coconut butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbs unsweetened almond milk

Instructions:

1) Pre-heat oven to 350F.

2) Then in a small bowl mix together the apple cider vinegar and almond milk and then set aside for 10 minutes, this will make your "vegan buttermilk"

3) Then in a large mixing bowl add in your wet ingredients; egg, maple syrup, coconut sugar, vanilla, coconut oil, and your vegan buttermilk and then blend with a hand mixer until everything is smooth.

4) Next, sift in your dry ingredients, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, flour, and salt. Then fold in your shredded apple.

5) In a well-greased donut pan (I use coconut oil) spoon in about 2 heaping tbsp. of batter into each donut mold and smooth out surface with a spatula or finger.

6) Bake in the oven for 12 min or until a toothpick comes out dry.

7) Once ready take out of the oven let sit for 5 min and then transfer to a wire rack to cool for another 10 min before icing.

Icing:

1) Now onto the icing, in a medium bowl using your hand mixer, blend together the maple syrup, coconut butter, and vanilla until smooth

2) Then, while mixing slowly add in 1-2 tbsp of almond milk

3) Next, spread or drizzle the icing onto the donuts

4) Enjoy!

Here is the link to the original recipe!

https://www.healthnutnutrition.ca/2015/12/10/gluten-free-apple-cake-donuts-with-maple-glaze/

Here is a video of the apple cake donut recipes too!


Cover Image Credit: Health Nut / YouTube

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