Food & Drink Opinion Women Who Lead

Maryam Munaf, Founder of Healthy Genie, is helping Canadians Celebrate Ramadan with traditional Date Delights

Healthy Genie

I was born in Abu Dhabi to Middle Eastern parents, my adventurous palette was developed at an early age while experimenting with my mother’s cookbook when I was 12 years old, and learning about Dates through trips to the Date market with my father ‘the Date Guru’, as I call him.

In many regions including  the UAE, The Gulf, and the Middle East dates are considered a delicacy. The benefits of this magical fruit coupled with its sweet taste allows it to elevate itself from a simple home staple to gourmet status. As in North America, we crowd around the kitchen table with treats as guests are given dates topped with nuts to indulge in. 

Growing up surrounded by palm trees, snacking on Dates filled with raw nuts was the norm for me. In 2013, I moved to Toronto and went after a dream that I had to run my own business, now known as Healthy Genie. 

When I moved thousands of miles away from home, I realized that those snacks were a truly exquisite experience. I wanted to pay homage to my roots and developed a product line based on these simple yet wholesome ingredients.  My recipes, and later my product, were formulated with the date, a simple yet versatile plant that can be used for so many things. 

I developed an online platform for healthy recipes and tips with the mission to motivate people to live a healthier, more nutritious life. Healthy Genie’s product line of Stuffed Dates, Date Truffles and Date Spreads are inspired by traditional recipes and made using natural ingredients without the use of preservatives or refined sugar. The ingredient list is simple and vegan, containing ingredients that people are familiar with. My mission with Healthy Genie is to pass on and share my traditions with Canadians because food brings people together — something that is needed now more than ever. 

In February, as COVID-19 began impacting every business, Healthy Genie  focused our efforts on online accessibility ensuring our ability to ship our treats and spreads to customers across the country, especially important for households observing Ramadan. 

Observing Ramadan, a celebration where we break our fast with hearty meals shared amongst families, presents new challenges in the wake of COVID-19. While this years’ Ramadan has changed dramatically for my family and I, we are making an effort to ensure that we celebrate together virtually.  In my kitchen, sharing the experience on Zoom with family, I will focus on making meals that feel like home to help us connect and get in the spirit of the month.

My Ramadan kitchen will be full of delicacies such as Baked Qatayef drizzled with traditional Date spread, lentil soup, and Date & Coconut Parfait made with Date & Chocolate spread. The dishes I chose for iftar remind me of home and my mother’s cooking, all infused with love.

Celebrate Ramadan and make this year feel like home with these two nutritious recipes.

Traditional Lentil Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil.
  • 1 cup dry red lentils (rinse clean with water).
  • 1 medium cooking onion.
  • 1 small garlic clove.
  • ½ tsp ground cumin.
  • Juice of a ½ lemon.
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste.
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric.
  • 4 cups boiling water (you can use homemade stock but I always use water and it turns out delicious).

Click here for the full recipe and method.

Warm Black Kale & Chickpea Salad

Ingredients:

  • Black Kale: 2 cups chopped with tough ends removed
  • Chickpeas: 1 cup previously cooked chickpeas or if you don’t have time you can used canned ones
  • White onion: 1 small or 1/2 medium sliced lengthwise
  • Spring onion: 2 stalks finely sliced
  • Garlic: 2 cloves mashed
  • Lemon: freshly squeezed, about 2 Tbsp
  • Sea salt: 1 tsp
  • Ground pepper: 1 tsp
  • Paprika powder: 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Extra virgin olive oil: 2 Tbsp
  • Silvered raw almonds: 2 tsp (optional)

Click here for the full recipe and method.