Cute wheat free gift: hot chocolate “mug”

I had fun making this gift.  It’s a paper mug to hold hot chocolate packets!

Instructions follow the picture below.

Project costs: $1 for the Swiss Miss hot chocolate; 40¢ for 2 sheets of paper.



  1. Create the paper template: Click template link to download. Print onto plain printer paper then cut it out. Or print directly onto the decorative paper/card stock you want to use for the mug, as long as the paper fits your printer (8.5 x 11 in.).
  2. Secure the paper template to the decorative paper with the paper clips. Trace the template onto the wrong side of your mug paper.
  3. Cut out the mug. Glue a 1/4-in seam around the edges. When dry, tuck in a couple of packets of hot chocolate!

Tip: The original template does not have handles on both ends of the cup. I used the template to draw a handle on both ends. You will have to play around with where to place the handle. I wish I could tell you how to do this, but I did it by trial and error and I don’t think I can explain it now.

Note: Please make sure your printing margins are set to .5 inches (half an inch) or the template may not print completely.


Crock Pot Hot Apple Cider

The heat of Ramadhan is and fall is setting in. That means we gotta do our warming up from the inside out.

Here are 2 wonderful hot apple cider recipes. Both are great recipes. The cinnamon and cloves warm the body and help circulate the blood.

In recipes that call for spices you rarely use, buy only the amount needed from bulk bins at places like Whole Foods. Whole Foods prices can be steep. But when you need say like 3 cinnamon sticks, it is much cheaper to pay pennies for it at Whole Foods than to buy a a whole jar-full from some other store and let it go to waste in the kitchen cabinet.

Alright, the moment you have been waiting for:

Recipe #1 — Crock Pot Apple Cider
From [my additions in brackets]
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 2 hours


  • 12 cups apple cider [I’ve used apple juice]
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves [or 6 whole cloves = 1/2 tsp ground]
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 orange, studded with whole cloves
  • 3 (3″) cinnamon sticks

*Don’t have cinnamon sticks? Use ground instead. However, ground cinnamon should not be added to boiling  liquids; the liquid may become stringy and the cinnamon will lose flavor.  Instead, add ground cinnamon at the end of the cooking process. Be sure to taste test it.

Put all ingredients in a 4-5 quart slow cooker. Set to low. Cover. Cook for 2 to 3 hours.

Servings: 8-10 servings

Recipe #2 — 10-Minute Hot Apple Cider
Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse (adapted by me)
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes


  • 1 apple
  • 2 teaspoons whole cloves
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced
  • 2 quarts apple cider [I’ve used apple juice]
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • Cinnamon sticks, garnish

Wash the apple well to remove the wax coating. To do this, spray apple with vinegar/water mixture. Then sprinkle with baking soda. Rub mixture well. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Rinse off and use.  Organic apples contain less pesticide contamination and are the best to use.

Stud the apple with the cloves. In a medium pot, combine the studded apple and remaining ingredients.

Slowly bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Discard the apple. Ladle into mugs and garnish each with a cinnamon stick. Serve immediately.

Servings: about 8

[Original recipe contained rum and nutmeg which are haraam for Muslims to consume]

Chocolate Protein Smoothie

Many people make the mistake of eating too many carbohydrates like cereals (hot and cold), oatmeal, fruit, even candy for their first meal of the day thinking they are boosting their energy levels. This is a mistake. While you will get a boost, it will be short-lived and you will be left feeling tired a few hours later.

Suhuur needs to be packed with protein to keep blood sugar levels from dipping too low, among other things. There needs to be some carbs too, but getting enough carbs is never a problem for most of us.

One protein option is to make protein smoothies. My naturopathic doctor recommends that I use whey protein powder — specifically Designer’s Whey or Trader Joe’s store brand. She advises against soy protein powder citing it’s negative impact on the body (more than 90% of the soy produced in the U.S. is genetically modified).

Whey is what is left over when making cheese. It is dried into a powder after lactose and fat is removed to make whey protein powder. This is why whey protein powder will not bother those who are lactose intolerant.

Here is a non-dairy protein-rich smoothie that will surely be a hit for suhoor.

I made this smoothie using coconut milk that I had frozen in an ice cube tray.


  • 1/4 cup coconut milk per person
  • 1 1/4 to 1  3/4 cup chocolate almond milk per person (can use dairy milk) **I previously mistakenly wrote 3/4 cup milk
  • protein powder (enough to equal about 20 grams of protein)


  1. Put almond milk and coconut milk in blender. Blend until smooth. If using frozen coconut milk, let unthaw a bit (frozen coconut milk is hard on a blender).  Then add a smaller amount of almond milk and blend until frozen coconut milk is mixed well. Then add the rest of the milk.
  2. Turn off blender.
  3. Add protein powder
  4. Pulse blender gently and for a few seconds at a time until the protein powder is incorporated. See Tips below.


  • Do not blend protein powder continuously as it will make the drink foamy and frothy.
  • Also, do not add ice to this recipe. It will water down the drink.
  • If you want a colder smoothie, then freeze the coconut milk and put the almond milk in the freezer for 10 minutes before using.
Serve with other food or alone.

Mango Agua Fresca

Back in the summer a local grocery store was selling mangos for 50¢ each. I stocked up. When I got home, I peeled the mangos and removed the pulp. Then I froze them individually, each in its own plastic wrapping. I wanted to be able to have fresh mango at an economical price later on in the year.

I use mango in many dishes.  Here is one of my favorite mango drinks. Although this recipe is not especially sweet –add more honey or sugar if you like it sweeter–it’s great on summer hot days, especially after breaking one’s fast.

Mango Aqua Fresco

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and cut into chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups cold water
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey, more or less to taste (can also use sugar)
  • Lime wedge and mint leaves for garnish


  1. Blend mango and water until smooth.
  2. Strain into glasses.
  3. Stir in lime and sweetener.
  4. Add ice.
  5. Decorate with lime and mint.

–I did not strain mine although I was supposed to–

Serves 2.

Recipe Source: Whole Foods

Decaf Your Own Tea

IMG_0040-2Most tea companies use chemicals to remove caffeine from tea.

You can get rid of most of the caffeine found in regular tea bags –about 80%–  without using chemicals. It’s quite easy to do.

Step 1: Pour a small amount of  water that has come to a rolling boil over a tea bag or loose tea.

Step 2: Let sit for 45-60 seconds. Then gently pour off water or if using a tea bag, remove the bag and throw the water away.

Step 3: Then, bring a pan of fresh water to just under a boil. Pour water over the same loose tea or tea bag that you just decaffed.

Step 4: Steep tea the recommended amount of time below.

Recommended brewing times:

  • 5 minutes for Black tea, Oolong tea and Herbal tea
  • 3 minutes for Darjeeling tea for three minutes
  • 2 – 3 minutes for Green tea and white tea (let the water cool to about 165 to 175 F first)