Friday, February 07, 2014

Featured Muslimah: Chef Naima's Gourmet Nostalgia

"All praise and thanks belongs to Allaah. Lord & Creator of all the worlds. May He bestow His peace & mercy upon the Prophet, his family, his companions, and on all of those who follow them in truth until The Last Day." Aameen

As salaamu alaykunna!

Al Hamdulillaah today I'm featuring a really sweet sister! Love her page, and enjoy her energy :-). If you are ever on Facebook take a swing by her page and give it a like, leave a comment, or get some recipes! Today I'm interviewing Chef Naima of Chef Naima's Gourmet Nostalgia.
I must say, I really enjoyed this interview and I'm sure all you ladies out there will too! In shaa Allaah.

1. What's the name of your blog and/or Facebook page?

My blog and Facebook pages are both called ‘Chef Naima’s Gourmet Nostalgia’. 
2. How long have you been doing your blog/page?

I’ve been running my blog & page for a little over a year.

3. What inspires your meals? What motivates you?

I’m inspired by lots of things!  Mostly importantly from my mother and my late grandmother, both were fantastic cooks in their own right.  My mother taught me to never be afraid to experiment and be creative in the kitchen.  Dinner time at our home was always interesting.  It was not uncommon to sit down to a bowl of Moroccan tagine and couscous, or Trinidadian pelau (rice and peas) and fried plantains, or curry with puris (fried Indian bread) on any given evening.  There were no boundaries, we just enjoyed good food! 

My grandmother, on the other hand, taught me more about the classical techniques of cooking.  She was more conservative, disciplined and methodical in the way that she cooked.  Dinner at my grandmother’s house could include casserole, soufflĂ©, vegetarian aspic or traditional French fare and she made fabulous desserts!  I think that my cooking style is influenced by both ways of thinking.
I am motivated by the fact that I want my family to eat wholesome, healthy and tasty foods.  We avoid processed foods as much as possible.  I like for them to try different fruits and vegetables and for them to sample different types dishes and cuisines.

4. I enjoy visiting your page! How are you getting your children involved in cooking?

ma shaa Allah!  I let my kids get involved in different ways by assigning them small, but important, tasks such as peeling the wrappers off of vegetable broth cubes, or letting them measure cups of flour.  Once they have shown me that they are able to listen and follow directions, I allow them to try the fun stuff such as cracking eggs or using the electric hand held mixer (my 3 year-old recently mastered this task ma shaa Allah).  I try not to freak out when things don’t turn out perfectly (this was not easy for me), rather I teach them proper techniques to keep them safe and also because I feel that they are capable of learning!  Getting my children involved in cooking has been messy!  I’ve had to learn that having my 3 year-old break eggs en route to the counter is no biggie!  My 5 year-old accidentally dropping a half bottle of cinnamon in the oatmeal isn’t that huge of a deal!  After all, mistakes are a part of their learning process!

5. What is the toughest part when cooking for your children and how do you solve this?

Keeping my 17 month-old twin boys out of trouble as I chop, fry, sautee and bake!  These little guys are fast and into everything! 

Secondly, sometimes pleasing my 5 year-old can be quite challenging, since she is a picky eater.  She used to limit herself to eating only a few foods such as chickpeas, brown rice, oatmeal and broccoli.  If I gave her other foods, she would refuse to eat them. These days, she will finish her food…eventually (which means a significant amount of time after the rest of the family has finished eating!).  So we are working on her eating just a little bit faster!

6. How do you make time for yourself? 

This is something that is a genuine work in progress for me.  Most times, I don’t get enough time for myself, which is typical for most mothers with children as young as mine (my girls are 3, 5, 7 & my boys are 17 months).   

 Naturally, when I am at home, my children gravitate towards me.  They demand my attention, which makes getting an uninterrupted break near impossible unless I leave the house!  But most times I don’t really want to leave the house! I just want to lay in bed in my pajamas with the blinds drawn as I surf the net or read a good book.

 I do try and carve out some “me” time for myself by doing the things that I love best.  ‘Chef Naima’s Gourmet Nostalgia is an outlet for me.  I enjoy sharing the little details of my day with my readers.  Another one of my other favorite things to do is to attend the sisters’ halaqa at the local masjid (although I do bring my children most times!).  I get to learn more about my religion but also, I have met a great group of sisters who have become my friends and supporters.  I recently tidied up my lovely pink sewing room in hopes of motivating myself to use my personal space more often!

7.  What are some things you learned about motherhood? 

I’ve learned that as a mother, you have to be flexible and have good sense of humor.  You also have to genuinely enjoy spending time with your children; if not, you will be miserable!  Most importantly as a mother, you must constantly make dua for yourself, your family, your children.  It is so important to ask Allah (swt) to guide us as mothers, since we play such a huge role in shaping our children’s identities.

8. Nobody ever told you that when you become a mother you would _______

Be spit on, pooped on, thrown up on so often.  And that it would not faze me!

9. As a woman how do you strive to still feel like an adult? What are you doing for personal self growth and development?

My duties as a mother make me feel like an adult!  ma shaa Allah, my personal growth and development in the past few years has come from motherhood and learning more about Islam. 

10. Can you give us a mom friendly snack recipe for toddlers?          

Sure! I love making ‘Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Squares’ because they are so simple!: Preheat your oven to 350.  Mix 1 cup of smooth organic peanut butter, 1 egg, 1/3 cup of raw honey and ½ teaspoon of baking soda in a bowl until blended.  Fold in ½ cup of chocolate chips.  Pour the mixture into an 8 inch greased baking dish and smooth the top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.  I serve these with sliced bananas and milk for a yummy snack! 

Thanks Naima for such a lovely interview!!!! <3 If you want to be featured on Mariam Poppins send us an e-mail at:

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