18 November 2020

Halal-friendly jellies - Asda

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 0 Comments

Welcome to another installment of my halal jelly guide! It's ASDA's turn today, after already looking at Tesco and Sainsbury's. If you haven't seen one of these before, we'll be looking at which of the supermarkets' own jellies are halal diet-friendly.

I think ASDA was actually the shop that first gave me the idea for these posts, as it's the one we currently use the most alongside Lidl and probably buy their own brand sweets most often. Now you might think it would've made sense for me to post about those first, but I actually did Tesco and Sainsbury's first for that very reason, that I don't go there often - I happened to have a rare chance to visit those, so I decided to just get that done.

Anyway, ASDA's halal-friendly jellies and such. We do buy them quite a bit because Aminah is crazy for jellies (especially the fizzy rainbow belts, sour as anything but she would happily go through the whole pack if I let her!), they come in nice little packs and are normally 5 for £1.Let's see what we can choose from:

1. Jelly beans - As I mentioned in the previous posts, a popular one in our house, so I'm glad to find them with the green V sign. I did, however, notice shellac on the list of ingredients, and I said earlier that I had doubts whether it's halal or not. After a quick check, I discovered that the Vegetarian Society actually considers shellac to be vegetarian (although not all sweets containing shellac are marked vegetarian) - more details HERE.

2. Midget gems - Here's a bit of a different one from our usual choice. These fruity gummies are a bit of a classic here, along with wine gums. On that note, ASDA's wine gums are halal-friendly too (despite the name, they do not contain alcohol), but they wouldn't have any takers here so I chose not to buy any.

Back to the standard offering - sadly yet again the strawberry pencils (cables) don't make the list, as they contain pork gelatine.

3. Strawberry and Rainbow laces

4. Rainbow belts

5. Strawberry and cola wands

That's all I have found in ASDA that could get on my halal-friendly list. If you think you have anything to add or correct, do let me know! Hope you're enjoying my mini-series here, I welcome any suggestions on what to explore next :)

04 November 2020

Halal-friendly jellies - Tesco

Wednesday, November 04, 2020 0 Comments

Welcome back to my little Halal Food Guide! As I mentioned in the previous post of the series, I'm trying to take the blog back to its basics and explore more about halal-friendly food choices. I'm currently focusing on sweets and jellies, and last time I looked at Sainsbury's offering. Next up: Tesco.


The nearest Tesco to us is an Extra store, so I was hoping for a good selection. Well, can't say I was that impressed - same standard choice as everywhere, and boo-hoo the strawberry pencils have gelatine in them! Let's have a look at what we CAN have then - again, I've only picked from the jellies and other soft sweets that need a gelling agent.

1. Mini Jelly Beans - Really glad to see those with a V symbol, they are always popular with the kids. I mentioned last time about the shellac that's used in some brands of jelly beans, and that I try to avoid it as doubtful, so these are just a safe option to pick up.


2. Strawberry/cola/bubblegum lances - Pretty standard offering, so far they seem to be veggie in all the shops I've gotten them from. The bubblegum flavour was something new for us though, it was great to see a different one to the usual choice of strawberry and cola.

3. Milk bottles - These were a bit of a surprise. While getting the stuff for these posts I go through every single kind of sweets on the shelf looking at ingredients, even if I might've seen the same sweet in another shop and I know it would usually contain gelatine. We really liked these, they taste like sweet cream and have a good texture - sometimes veggie jellies aren't as nice as those with animal gelatine, because of different gelling agents used the textures can be a bit off, but these were pretty good.


4. Fizzy Multicoloured Belts - Another pretty standard one across all the shops.


5. Strawberry Laces - Or "jelly spaghetti" as my kids call them. Another one that's usually veggie across the shops.


This was all that I found in Tesco (from their own brand) that was halal-friendly - kind of expected more, as their own brand sweets selection was quite big, but that's always something and we did get couple of new things 👍

02 October 2020

Halal-friendly jellies - Sainsbury's

Friday, October 02, 2020 0 Comments
When I first started this blog, the idea was to share my own journey of learning about halal food and life as a new Muslim. And maybe throw some parenting bits to the mix, as I was about to have my first baby. I wanted to help others in my position, share what I've learned - mainly about the halal food, as I was exploring it wasn't just about giving up pork and alcohol - I've realised for example how many products have gelatine in them, and what other ingredients aren't halal.

That turned me into a serial label checker - whenever I'm buying something new that I haven't tried before, I always read the label first. In the UK it's a bit easier, as I normally just need to look for the "suitable for vegetarians/vegans" bit, or the green "V" sign on the packet. I find, however, that some products might miss that little note even though the ingredients indicate that they are suitable for vegetarians, so if something doesn't obviously contain animal-derived ingredients (as in if it's not clearly a meat product), I always double-check.

Now, the trickiest thing to buy over the years, especially since having kids, have been sweets - jellies in particular. Yes, there are some halal ones available - always a bit of choice in local halal shops and even most supermarkets will have some in the World Foods aisle. It's mostly imported Haribo though, and I find them slightly overpriced - and contrary to some people's belief, stuff doesn't have to have a "halal" logo slapped on to be halal - if it doesn't contain haram ingredients, you're good to go.

So I decided to resume the "Halal Food Guide" thing I was doing some time ago, and this time I'll be focusing on jellies. I've had this idea that I'd go through supermarkets' own sweets and check out the choices - I normally just go for tried and tested, or check as I go, but thought it would be good to actually know how much stuff is available there that we can safely buy.

First up - Sainsbury's own sweets range. I picked up everything that was vegetarian/vegan friendly - I only chose the gummies and soft sweets that you could potentially expect to find gelatine in, rather than boiled sweets that won't normally have any unsuitable ingredients. 

1. Fizzy straws and belts - these can be found in probably all major supermarkets, and so far I think I've always found them to be vegetarian. Similarly, strawberry and cola laces (for some reason I don't have photos of those here).

2. Fizzy Rainbow Pencils - pencils one of my favourites, with the soft centre and the jelly coating. I usually buy strawberry pencils in other places, but to my surprise the Sainsbury's ones have beef gelatine in them. They are pretty much the same thing, except the rainbow ones are thicker and well, rainbow - I'd expect both varieties to be vegetarian really.


3. Mini Jelly Beans - this is a popular choice with the kids. Many varieties use shellac as coating, which is derived from insects - I have found conflicting opinions on whether shellac is halal or not (if anyone has a reliable source to confirm either way, feel free to share!), so always best to just stick to the veggie ones.


4. Fizzy Fangs - it was great to find these, just a little more variety than the usual choice of the fizzy straws and rainbow belts (typing this has just made me realise that we didn't pick any up!)


5. Fruit Jellies - these were a hit with us grown-ups! Shaped like fruit segments, they're delightfully soft and fruity. We've found similar ones in Poundland a while ago and regretted not buying more - they also remind me of jellies I used to eat back home, shaped like orange or lemon slices 


6. Flying saucers - not jellies, but as I picked them up I thought I might as well include them here. They are sherbet-filled wafers, not just vegetarian but vegan too.


If I missed anything else, feel free to let me know! This is the selection I managed to pick up on my recent visit to Sainsbury's, in case of any doubts conduct your own checks x

24 September 2020

Fun at home with Fiesta Crafts masks*

Thursday, September 24, 2020 0 Comments

 *We were sent the Unicorn Head mask craft kit for the purpose of this review

With Adam back at school, Aminah and I now have lots of time for just the two of us. With the weather being... well, typical British weather, and with nowhere to go with restrictions still in place here, it means a lot of time at home. 

She's at that age when she absolutely loves pretend play and dressing up - as much as she enjoys roaring like a dinosaur, being a pirate or a superhero, most of the time it's all about makeup, wearing pretty dresses and being a princess, unicorns and rainbows. Seriously, what's the deal with unicorns though? Were they as popular when we were little?

Quite understandably then, she went absolutely mad for the Unicorn Head mask craft kit, which we have received from Fiesta Crafts.

The Fiesta Crafts mask kits contain all the elements to make your own 3D mask - there are 8 cool designs to choose from, which are great for pretend play and as part of fancy dress costumes.


They come as flat-packed craft kits, suitable for children aged 5+ - Aminah is just under 3 so her job was just to wear it and be a unicorn, but Adam could do it with a bit of help. This one consists of just 4 parts to put together, and easy to follow instruction card. You also don't need anything extra, like glue or tape, as all the elements are joined by putting small tabs into slots, which are all numbered too.

Once complete, the mask was an instant hit - it's a little too big for Aminah, but that doesn't stop her. To my surprise, Adam quite liked it too, and happily tried it on. However, I could see he's a little disappointed we didn't get the dinosaur one instead, so I *might* have ordered one for him ;) 

We don't celebrate Halloween, but these masks would make a great part of a costume - for any fancy dress party actually. They are made of a quite sturdy card, and actually big enough for adults too (I can fit my big head in, but not really great with glasses!) - I can see the mask lasting quite a while, even with my wild two!

09 August 2020

NOW it's time to pray

Sunday, August 09, 2020 0 Comments
We were sent the product in exchange for a review. All views are, as always, my own.

We don't send Adam to Madrasah, for a few reasons. Well, under the current circumstances he wouldn't be going now anyway. But yeah, all his Islamic education happens at home. It might be more basic than he'd get from someone qualified, but it's what we decided to be right for us at present. He's actually doing quite well though, going through the Qaida, learning general things about the religion, and of course praying.

We've been using a variety of resources for prayer learning, from books to YouTube videos. A while back Adam was gifted the Now it's Time to Pray box to aid his learning. 

The box is available in a choice of pink for girls and blue for boys. Each box contains a prayer mat, digital tasbih, a prayer hat for boys or a hijab for girls, a wipe-clean prayer tracker, and a booklet teaching the prayer one verse at a time (plus one for the parents/teachers).

The prayer mat is made of easy to clean rubber, rather than the usual rug type one. It's non-slip, so great to use even on hard floors. One thing I'd recommend is to roll it up when not in use, to avoid creating the crease and potentially any cracks in the material in the long term. Just to say - quality is amazing and we don't anticipate it to crack, it's simply the solution we chose for better preservation of the prayer mat.

The "Now it's time to pray" booklet is for learning the words of the prayer from start to finish. The method used in the booklet is for the child to learn one verse at a time, with the aim of learning a verse per day. It's divided in a total of 43 days, starting with Thanaah (which was never included in any resources we've used so far, I had also learned it separately after learning to pray), Surahs Al-Fatihah and Ikhlas, and then after the remainder of the prayer, we also have the Dua Qunoot. Every page also contains a little drawing of a child, illustrating body position at each stage of the prayer, for every verse. The text is provided both in Arabic script and Roman transcription, making it easy to pronounce for non-Arabic speakers, as well as the English translation.

The parents/teachers booklet helps the grown-ups make the most of the "Now it's time to pray" box, and you can also visit the WEBSITE for additional resources.

Lastly, we get the wipe-clean prayer chart, to mark off the completed prayers. Just like with any regular reward charts, it can provide an extra motivation for the child, who will see how well they're doing keeping up with their prayers - you can choose to convert the completed prayers into stars and even rewards, if you want.

We're really impressed with the overall quality of the "Now it's time to pray" box, and might think about getting one for Aminah when she's at the right age. As I mentioned, they are available in pink or blue, and Teen boxes are also now available to pre-order. Each box costs £19.99, available to buy from NOW SERIES website