Paramount Farms and Bard Valley Medjool Dates

Trail Mix Heaven

If you’re in Snow Country, like we are here in Chicago, winter doesn’t mean settling for cabin fever. Plan a fun day with your kids that involves an activity, healthful snacking, and a day of family bonding. Hit the slopes or find the closest hill in your neck of the woods and go sledding. Or, go snow shoeing through one of our pristine forest preserves. There are few things more beautiful than a snow covered landscape, with just the sun’s rays and the quiet for company. Not up for that, then building a snow man or making snow angles should be on your to-do list. Some of the best snacking options, to keep your energy up, are almonds, pistachios and dates. These nuts and fruits are packed with wholesome nutrition and kids love the bite size pieces they naturally are. Make a tasty trail mix with Paramount Farms almonds, pistachios, and slices of a few fresh Bard Valley Medjool Dates. Since it’s winter, yogurt parfait cups left in your car won’t spoil while you enjoy the crisp, cool air. So gather the kids around your kitchen table and have them prepare some tasty and healthy yogurt parfaits. Have an older child slice up some strawberries and bananas, have the little ones help whip El-Mexicano halal-certified plain non-fat yogurt and wash the blueberries. Grab some clear 8oz cups with lids to prepare the treat. Working layers, place the fresh fruit on the bottom, followed by the yogurt, and top with some Halal-certified Paramount Farms almonds, pistachios, and Bard Valley diced Medjool Dates. Before you know it, you have a yummy treat for an afternoon hike!

Almonds are high in vitamin E, a key micronutrient to building a strong heart. They are also loaded with monounsaturated fats that aid in the body’s anti-inflammatory response and, best of all, almonds are cholesterol free! So in moderation, a few almonds a day can literally keep the doctor away. Pistachios are packed with antioxidants, phytosterols, and natural polyphenols. Each of these substances play an important role in heart disease and cancer prevention. And yes, eating dates was a practice of the Prophet Muhammad and therefore a Sunnah, but they are also loaded with natural sugars – the good kind – and provide a great boost of energy for wintertime play.

Paramount Farms products include Wonderful® Pistachios. Follow them on twitter @getcrackin


Carole’s Cheesecake

Celebrating 40 Years with Year Long Specials

“Their tea is heavenly… Lover’s Leap is an absolute darling. Triple Chocolate Cheesecake is a must try.” “Rockyroad cheesecake.. must have!” “Amazingly fresh and delcious food. A huge must try!” “I tried a New York Cherry and a mini mango gluten free this afternoon, unexpected very yummy!!!!! Highly recommended.” These are just a few of the customer comments on Foursquare and Facebook about IFANCA Halal-Certified Carole’s Cheesecake.

Based in Toronto, Canada, Carole’s Cheesecake celebrated their 40th year anniversary with a brand new gourmet cake, Red Diamonds & Pearls. Launched in December 2011, the cake has already been made famous with a profile on Canada’s Breakfast Television. White chocolate frames red diamonds made of natural seedless raspberry puree, ringed with white pearls. Red velvet chocolate cake layered with Carole’s famous vanilla cheesecake is what makes this cake a sensation. Their 40th year celebrations will continue through 2012 with Carole’s Cheesecake offering a 50% special on a cake or cheesecake on the 25th of each month.

For those watching their waistlines, Carole’s Lower in Sugar cheesecakes are available in: Vanilla, Chocolate Marble, Chocolate, Raspberry Swirl, Strawberry Swirl, Cappuccino and Lemon. Their product list on their website posts the nutritional breakdown of each cake listed.

Order your cheesecake at


Florida’s Natural Orange Juice

Your Glass of Florida Sun

Orange fact: A single orange provides more than 100% of your recommended daily vitamin C. “Like knowing your orange juice is 100% made in the U.S.A.? Then you’ll love this!” is the promise Florida’s Natural Orange Juice, a grower-owned cooperative, has been making since 1933. In the wake of the January 2012 news that imported Brazilian orange juice had traces of Carbendazim, a fungicide that is illegal for citrus in any amount in the USA, Florida’s Natural Orange Juice was quick to remind OJ lovers that they’ve always and only used Florida oranges in their Florida’s Natural Orange Juice. Plus, “there are no artificial flavors or ingredients in Florida’s Natural Orange Juice. Everything in our juice comes from the oranges that citrus growers produce, pure and simple,” said their website. And yes, you drink it, but have you ever tried cooking with orange juice? Here’s a recipe from their website that you absolutely must try. No waiting on the yeast to rise. Just mix and bake.


Orange Cranberry Pecan Quick Bread


Mix all ingredients and pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 70 minutes. Cool in pan an hour before removing.



2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 egg

½ cup Florida’s Natural® Brand Premium Orange Juice

½ cup plain yogurt

grated peel of 1 Florida orange

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons hot water

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

1 cup pecans


Substitution Options:

Apple Juice Instead of Cooking Oil? It Does Work.

The majority of the worlds’ organic apples are grown in the U.S. and Washington State produces 80% of certified organics. Making apples, apple juice or apple sauce a part of every day is great but nutritionist Deanna Segrave-Daly has some more ideas for taking a more sound and nourishing approach to your 2012 diet.


Tip #1: Reduce Oil and Sodium Consumption

To lower the fat in a recipe and increase the vitamin and antioxidant content, try substituting apple sauce for cooking oil. It’s best suited to replace oil in moist breads, muffins and cakes. Start with an oil-to-apple sauce ratio of 1:1. If that works well, experiment with replacing more of the oil with apple sauce. In soups, apple juice instead of chicken broth compliments sweeter vegetables such as red peppers, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and carrots. It also boosts the nutrition and lower sodium in a sauce or soup recipe. It can also be used instead of broth to deglaze a pan after cooking meat.

Additional recipe substitution options include replacing bread crumbs with rolled oats or bran cereal, table salt with herbs, and sour cream with plain low-fat yogurt or fat-free cottage cheese.


Tip #2: Nurture Your Brain Health

Recent studies from the University of Massachusetts Lowell show that eating more antioxidant-rich foods like apples may help prevent a decline in memory and brain function. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those with purple, blue, red, orange and yellow hues.

Researchers believe antioxidants found in apples and apple products help prevent the deterioration of acetylcholine found in the body, which is vital for communication between brain nerve cells.


Tip #3: Fight Cancer with Diet

German researchers looked at the specific cancer-preventative components of apples, apple juice and apple extracts and found that apples contain a variety of polyphenols, phytochemicals and fiber. These nutrients appear to affect cancer activity by fighting inflammation, disrupting tumor growth and increasing antioxidant activity.

Besides apples, berries, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruit and nuts are among other foods that have similar cancer-fighting nutrients.


Tip #4: Eat More Fiber

The American Dietetic Association recommends 25 grams of fiber for women and 38 grams for men, daily. While the benefits of fiber are many – including giving us the feeling of satiety (full and satisfied), lowering cholesterol and helping to control blood sugar – one of the most documented benefits of fiber is digestive health.

Apples are considered a good source of fiber, providing 10 percent of the daily fiber recommendation per serving. Researchers have found that cooked apples, like those found in apple sauce, provide indigestible carbohydrates that improve our digestive well being. Additional high-fiber foods include cooked peas, lentils, beans and artichokes. Clear apple juice, however, contains no measurable amount of fiber.


Tip #5: Eat Apples to Avoid a Pear Shape

Eating an apple before a meal is a great way to avoid overeating. According to research conducted by Pennsylvania State University, people who ate an apple before lunch consumed almost 190 less calories.



Sitting Pretty

Amara Cosmetics – Make-Up That’s Halal & Toxin Free

Environmental Defense launched “How To Look Pretty Without Poisoning Yourself,” a TV and online campaign in Canada to educate women about dangerous, cancer-causing ingredients found in many cosmetics. The company also relaunched its Web site, offering customers information about safe beauty products.

In the commercial, a woman appears on a game show and is to select a cosmetic that doesn’t contain harmful ingredients. As she picks and applies a lipstick, the game show host informs her that her lipstick contains lead and that the entire selection of make up in front of her has harmful ingredients.

The good news is that Amara Halal Cosmetics (, an IFANCA halal certified company, has cosmetics that are free of all these toxins. Halal cosmetics are gaining ground, both amongst Muslims and other animal welfare conscious consumers, globally. Made in the USA and the result of several years of research, Amara Halal Cosmetics was created so that women don’t have to worry about toxins or about breaking Islamic rules while wearing makeup and performing their daily prayers. Studies show that women who apply lipstick end up “eating” the lipstick they’ve applied i.e. 4 to 9 pounds of lipstick is “consumed” as a result in an average woman’s lifetime, says founder, Shamalia Mohamed. Her product line is the antithesis to “all those lipsticks in the market that are made with chemicals like fatty acids and gelatins, as well as other items, like alcohol or ingredients that are extracted from animals including pigs.” For now, Amara Halal Cosmetics products can only be purchased online and the entire line has the IFANCA logo.


The Harmful Ingredients on Environmental Defense’s List Are:

  1. BHA (butylatedhydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylatedhydroxytoluene)
  2. Coal tar-derived colours including P-phenylenediamine and colours labeled “C.I.”, P-phenylenediamine, paraphenylene, PPD, p-diaminobenzene, p-phenylenediamine, p-aminoaniline, 1,4 benzendiamine
  3. Dibutyl Phthalate or DBP
  4. Formaldehyde Releasing Agents such as DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine, Quaternium-15 and Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate
  5. Fragrance
  6. Parabens such as asmethylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben. Other chemicals such as: 4-hydroxyebzoic acid, propyl ester, propyl 4-hydroxybenzoate, benzoic acid and 4-hydroxybutyl ester
  7. Petrolatum, commonly known as Petroleum Jelly, could be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
  8. Siloxanes: Read label to check for cyclomethicone, cyclotetrasiloxane (D4), cyclopentasiloxane (D5) and cyclohexasiloxane (D6), or any ingredients with the suffix “siloxane”
  9. Sodium Laureth Sulfate & Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  10. Triclosan

Editor’s Note: Products mentioned in this article are IFANCA halal certified for the US market, with the exception of the apple juice. Further, only select products by each manufacturer are halal certified. For an up-to-date listing, visit