Cookbook Review & Giveaway of FEAST: Food of the Islamic World

If there’s one cookbook you’ll want to get this year, it’s this one. FEAST: Food of the Islamic World by Anissa Helou is a feast for the eyes and a journey through the history and food culture of the Muslim world. It’s one of those books that you’ll want in your collection when you’re craving Pakistani food one night and Moroccan the next. From real homemade pita to Iranian Yellow Split Pea Stew, you’ll find a geographic culinary spread of many of the dishes you’ve heard of or tasted, but never really knew how to make. One of the most unique recipes I found was this one for Uighur Scallion Pancakes, which I’m eager to try and make soon. The pictures are delectable, so they really encourage readers to dive right in and at least read the headlines which typically dictate a historical background of the recipes and/or the author’s own personal experiences with each one. 

One of the most coveted recipes I think will be this Lamb Shawarma Sandwich recipe- everyone seems to love a good shawarma and everyone seems to ask for the secret to making it and this, of course, is just one very delicious way. 

Anissa Helou, the Lebanese-born author of FEAST, is one well-respected international food writer I’ve been following for longer than I can even articulate. She caught my attention when she would write about Sicily or Sicilian dishes, which is part of my cultural heritage that I hold onto as much as I can. Her work is one I’ve always admired, for her love of Mediterranean food and lifestyle and the way she presents it through her work and everyday living, which you can often see on her Instagram page. It’s a work of art that is inspiring, beyond beautiful and one that puts a spotlight on the cuisine of many Muslim countries. Do check out her work and this cookbook, which you will not regret having in your culinary library. 

Anissa is giving away one copy of her book to MHK readers. All you have to do is go to my Instagram page, browse around the other reviews of FEAST that she’s posted and tell us in the comments below (on Instagram) why you really want to cook from this book. Giveaway ends on January 18, 2019. US mailing addresses only. Winner is randomly selected. 

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Source: My Halal Kithen

The American Qur’an Project at Chicago’s Sabeel Center

The American Qur’an project is one of the most surprising art exhibits I’ve ever come across. It’s one artist’s rendition of the Qur’an juxtaposed upon relevant scenes of American life. Sandow Birk is the L.A.-based artist who was inspired to hand-paint the scenes and transcribe the Qur’an text in English. After traveling extensively throughout the Muslim world. 

At the moment, the exhibit is displayed at the Sabeel Center in suburban Chicago (8800 Ballard Street, Des Plaines, IL 60016). It’s on display until September 28, 2018 and can be viewed via tour by appointment only. To scheduled a tour, email the Director, Rizwan Kadir:

I was intrigued by the project first and foremost because as an American who converted to Islam nearly 18 years ago, I find myself constantly answering the question as to why I became Muslim and often times being told that it was such a foreign concept- a religion only practiced in the East”. That is certainly not the case, and as the world becomes more and more globally connected we see and hear stories of countless converts from Western countries who live everyday lives practicing Islam while living and co-existing peacefully within the culture(s) in which they were born- such as myself. 

Sandow’s work is a reminder to me of many images that simply bring back that feeling of Americana I grew up with: family picnics on the 4th of July; Latino neighborhoods with the corner stores; Asian neighborhoods where anyone can visit and see the Chinese New Year parade.

Things like this are American. 

I am American. And Muslim. And Latina. And Italian. Does it all go together? Of course it does. 

Especially at a time like now when we are seeing so much vile behavior towards “the other” in public (i.e. the refugees, Latinos, Muslims, African Americans), I think this work is not only culturally significant; it’s also politically poignant, whether he meant it to be or not. 

I could say more, but tonight I’ll attend a closing night event and hopefully get a copy of the printed book, signed by the artist himself and giving one copy away to one random reader here. 

Read more about Sandow Birk and the American Qur’an project here

To enter to win, leave a comment below with your thoughts on the project and why you would like to have the book. 

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Source: My Halal Kithen

Book Suggestion | Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food

I read a lot of books over the course of year, some of which are skimmed throughly and some of which I hang on to every word, highlighting all of the things I want to share with the world. A book I’ve been reading recently, Deep Nutrition, is one such that will soon be marked up with yellow highlighter marks as soon as I get my own copy and return the one borrowed from the library- it’s way more than I expected it to be. 

As many of you who avidly read my work know, I’m a huge advocate for real food, particularly traditional foods that have been available for centuries to every culture around the world.  It all started with my first trip to Italy (aka: gastronomic heaven) as a young woman where I became obsessed with the idea that food grown with chemicals, mass-produced and shipped around the globe was not the kind of food that would provide great nutritional value- yet it seemed that most nutritionists and doctors weren’t addressing this fact, although everyone seemed to be recommending the Mediterranean Diet’ as the best in the world, even marketing it as such.

That’s not something I bought into so easily. Yes, I love Mediterranean food and it sits well with me, I believe, because a large portion of my DNA has origins in Southern Europe. That doesn’t mean it’s the right diet for everyone– or so my instincts told me, and exactly what this book addresses, too. 

I’ve also been an advocate of the Wise Traditions publication, a quarterly one produced by the Weston A. Price Foundation, because of their responsible and extensive research on traditional food and medicine as it intersects with modern day treatment and healing methods that the average person can wrap their heads around- and they also lobby for good in Washington, D.C., not because they’re being paid to lobby or advocate for a certain ingredient. 

Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (Featuring the Four Pillars of the Human Diet) by Catherine Shanahan, M.D. with Luke Shanahan is one of those books I believe every parent, every adult with chronic illness, and anyone who cares about their health and the health of their families, should be reading. 

In the book, what is covered is a lot of science but a lot of common sense, too. It’s jam-packed with things pertaining to lost wisdom of our elders and an effort to reclaim all of that. In the Introduction, the first line says, “This book describes the diet to end all diets.” (xix)

That’s a pretty tall order. But, I like it. I’ve never been a believer in diets; only lifestyle changes- sometimes ones that need to be massive in order to be not only effective, but also transformative and long-lasting. 

It’s also described as The Human Diet, and “…the first to identify and describe the commonalities between all the most successful nutritional programs people the world over have depended on for millennia to protect their health.” (xix)

This makes a lot of sense to me. For those of you who have pets, think about what you see nowadays in the pet food stores or aisle- a lot of marketing (i.e. descriptions of the best characteristics of a particular pet food) being described as “biologically appropriate” for cats or dogs.  Scientists and nutritionists are just now also talking about how the diet of our fur babies are also being afflicted by the type of food and as a result we’re even seeing an increase in obesity and diabetes in the feline and canine world. That’s astonishing! What have the holistic pet nutritionists and veterinarians done to curb this?  They’ve created biologically appropriate food mixes that address what cats and dogs are supposed to eat- what they would naturally eat in the wild, what’s good for them and doesn’t make them sick but instead makes them thrive, makes their hair shine and keeps them healthy and living long, happy lives.

Why don’t we have the same thing going on in the human food system? 

To quote the author in the beginning of the book, “…in the current healthcare system, people don’t receive the most powerful form of preventative medicine- a comprehensive dietary education.” (viii)

Medical doctors are simply not trained to consider how a person’s diet might contribute to medical conditions other than obesity, diabetes or heart disease…And any physician hoping to fully understand how nutrients and toxins act in the body would need a particularly strong background in biochemistry and cell physiology.” (viii)

I love the insight and personal experience that Dr. 

For example, Part One: The Wisdom of Tradition contains the following: 

  1. Reclaiming Your Health: The Origins of Deep Nutrition
  2. The Intelligent Gene: Epigenetics and the Language of DNA
  3. The Greatest Gift: The Creation and Preservation of Genetic Wealth
  4. Dynamic Symmetry: The Beauty-Health Connection
  5. Letting Your Body Create a Perfect Baby: The Sibling Strategy

Part Two: The Dangers of the Modern Diet

  1. The Great Nutrition Migration: From the Culinary Garden of Eden to Outer Space
  2. Good Fats and Bad: How the Cholesterol Theory Created a Sickness Epidemic
  3. Brain Killer: Why Vegetable Oil is Your Brain’s Worst Enemy
  4. Sickly Sweet: How a Carbohydrate-Rich Diet Blocks Metabolic Function 

Part Three: Living the Deep Nutrition Way

  1. The Four Pillars of the Human Diet: Foods That Program Your Body for Health, Brains and Beauty
  2. Beyond Calories: Using Food as a Language to Achieve the Ideal Body Weight
  3. Forever Young: Collagen Health and Life Span
  4. Deep Nutrition: How to Get Started Eating the Human Diet
  5. Frequently Asked Questions 

There are other additions and resources at the end of the book, which are all very valuable to the reader, including which types of products to buy for a healthy, deep nutrition type of lifestyle but also where to go online to read more and find those items. 

Perhaps once I’m actually thoroughly finished reading the book, I’ll come back with more insights, but for now I think it’s got enough excellent information and research to keep me interested and learning more about this crucially important topic- now, more than ever. 

Get your copy here

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Source: My Halal Kithen

Lemon Syllabub Drink from The Hamilton Cookbook by Laura Kumin

Last Spring when I was in Washington, D.C. to attend the Global Food Security Symposium, my friend and fellow food blogger, Laura Kumin and husband Kevin invited me to stay with them and enjoy a beautiful walk through the famous Cherry Blossom season and some delicious homemade food, including test recipes from the cookbook Laura was writing at the time, The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating & Entertaining in Hamilton’s WorldI remember having the most delicious homemade Apple Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream that are both recipes in the cookbook and even more special now knowing that she shared her test recipes during my visit. 

I first met Laura, a Food Blogger and Founder of the website, Mother Would Know: Home Cooking Beats Takeout when we both attended the Eat Write Retreat in Washington, D.C. several years ago. We hit it off pretty much instantly. I remember feeling particularly shy and introverted at this workshop for some reason and Laura was super nice and interested in what those of us at the table were writing about and where we all came from, rather than talking about herself- even though her own story as a retired lawyer turned food writer is completely fascinating to me. I find Laura to be an exceptional human being and couldn’t be more excited about The Hamilton Cookbook she recently wrote. 

It’s a really great experience to witness a friend and fellow food blogger publish a cookbook. Sometimes you’re involved in the process and other times not. Regardless, having two cookbooks under my belt, I can certainly appreciate the painstaking process (a.k.a. a labor of love) it is to research, develop and test recipes. Friends and family love the testing phase, but that is a very technical part of every cookbook writer’s life and I knew Laura Kumin would produce a fantastic result. 

The Hamilton Cookbook (available on Amazon) is a national treasure. At a time when so many of us find it important to preserve our national history but aren’t sure how to exactly do that, Laura has found a way to help create more interest in our Founding Fathers with this book. In it, you will learn what it was like to eat with Alexander Hamilton, what he ate and what his favorite foods were, and how his food was served to him. With this book, you’ll be able to recreate a meal Hamilton might have eaten after a battle or as he composed the famous, Federalist Papers (did you have to read those in school?), recipes from his humble beginnings in the West Indies to his more posh existence in New York City after the American Revolution. It’s no wonder the Broadway musical Hamilton has been such a hit – the man had a pretty interesting life, and seems as though he was a bigtime foodie, too!

There are so many great recipes in this book, but the one I picked to show you was one I thought a halal consumer might just pass by because it calls for white wine it, but that’s an easy fix- see below! 


This lemony drink is almost like a sherbert-based punch bowl drink served in nice and elegant glasses at a dinner party. I’ve made it so many times since reading The Hamilton Cookbook and my guests have loved it just as much as I do- that’s a good sign! And, it’s SO easy to make- don’t pass up this one!


  • 1 lemon, cut in half with rind grated from half and juice from one or both halves for a total of 1/4 cup juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup white grape juice (halal substitute for white wine)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream


  1. Rub the grated lemon rind into the sugar with your fingers until they are well combined. Mix the rind, sugar, lemon juice, and the white grape juice. 
  2. Add the cream and whisk the mixture until it froths. Gently pour it into two glasses. Let them stand on a counter for about 2 hours, then refrigerate until serving. As the glasses sit, the froth will rise, leaving the lemony white grape juice on the bottom of the glasses.

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Source: My Halal Kithen