Black Muslim Politics: A Journey with Food After Embracing Islam

A gift from Sister Luvenia Woods-Jones 

Sister Luvenia Woods-Jones (formally Luvenia X) has shared a gift with Sapelo Square readers: an original list of foods that members of the Nation of Islam could eat and could not eat in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s, along with several recipes that she received during her first year as a Muslim. Additionally she shared a brief overview of her journey with food after embracing Islam in the San Francisco Bay Area.

NOI Food page #0

Foods We Eat & Foods We Do Not Eat from the Archive of Luvenia Woods-Jones

NOI Food page #2

Recipes from the archive of Luvenia Woods-Jones

Battered Eggplant

1 or 2 eggplants (med.), 1/4 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 stick butter, 1 whole egg, 1 cup toasted crumbs, 1/4 oil (mazola), salt & pepper

Wash, peel and slice in medium pieces. Beat eggs, dip slice in eggs then dip in crumbs coat it well, shake off excess crumbs and place in hot butter, each slice separately, brown lightly on medium flame, remove from skillet and place in pan, add seasonings, cover and steam in oven 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Roasted Eggplant

1 or 2 eggplants (med), 1/2 green pepper, 2 or 3 medium onions, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, 1/2 stick butter, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, salt & pepper.

Wash, peel and slice eggplant in thick pieces. Slice onions and pepper to fine pieces, melt butter in roaster, add vegetables and seasonings, cover the roaster, bake in over 350 degrees until done.


2 or 3 lbs. of cabbage, 1/2 cup of water, 1 medium onion Dash paprika, 1/3 cup oil or less, 1/2 green pepper, salt & pepper dash turmeric.

Clean, put in pot add all seasonings, no water cover tightly and steam on low flame until done, add some water if needed.

String Beans

1 Lbs beans, 1/2 green pepper, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper, 1/4 cup oil, 1/2 teas salt, Dash of turmeric, 1/8 teaspoon paprika, 1 medium onion, 1 clove of garlic

Clean and cut in medium pieces, wash put in pot and add seasoning. Do not add water at this point. Cover and cook on a low flame for 45 minutes, then add little water if needed and cook until beans are done. Serve 2 to 4.

String Beans (Egyptian Style)

2 Lbs. beans, 1 stick of butter, 1 teaspoon of salt, black pepper, 1 can of tomato paste, 1/2 lb. ground beef, 2 or 3 onions, 1 clove garlic.

Cut onions fine, cook in butter until yellow, add meat, cook and stir until onions are light brown, then add tomato paste, cook until the mixture is dark red. Cut beans into pieces add to mixture, mix well. Cover beans with water cook until done, add more water if needed. When beans are done lower the flame and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve 4 to 6.

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SAPELO: Why was it important to wean off certain foods when you embraced Islam?

LWJ: We were eatin a lot of poultry, especially pork. [Elijah Muhammad] was encouraging us to eat healthy. Let me put it like this, [Elijah Muhammad] was the first one that came up with How To Eat To Liveand now everyone’s talkin’ bout Eat To LivePreviously we were eating wrong. We came up from slavery, and we were eatin the left overs – unhealthy foods. Growing up my grandmother would put pork in everything. She would make greens, black beans, and biscuits. She would also pick berries to make fresh black berry jam. When I became a Muslim we ate bean soup. We ate what was prescribed in [How To Eat To Live]. There was a kitchen in Temple 26 [San Francisco, CA], and after our events both Brothers and Sisters cooked. We had bean soup and we ate the Whiting [fish], that came from overseas, and a salad. Sometimes we ate chicken or  lamb. That Bean Pie, oh my God, everyone loved it.

SAPELO: So, you ate chicken. I noticed chicken was listed on one of the items you could not eat

LWJ: Well, we could eat chicken, if it was grown right, naturally. We could eat chicken and brown [organic] eggs, as long as the chickens were not caged. We ate one meal a day.

SAPELO: Which meal?

LWJ: Dinner.

SAPELO: You wouldn’t eat breakfast?

LWJ: No, but the children, we would feed them breakfast, but a healthy breakfast. Most days I made my own home-made bean soup. We made most meals from scratch. When my children were little we had that big house on 33rd and Market St. [Oakland, CA] right on the corner, and we had our own garden. My husband planted squash and all kinds of vegetables, and we were very healthy. People would stop us and tell us how beautiful our skin was. The most important fact was most of us did not get sick. We ate healthy. Now everyone’s on the bandwagon about eating healthy.

SAPELO: What advise would you give to people about How To Eat To Live today?

Everything is becoming modified, so you’ve got to learn how to read the labels. The best way to stay healthy is to eat healthy. Exercise and keep yourself clean. There’s a lot of books out now about eatin right.  If you have some type of knowledge that there is a higher power and you have ethics, you may grow and develop to be an upright person. We need more upright people in the world.

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  • Where can I find a Muslim diet book on cleaning the body, also more information on ( How to Eat )

    • Peace & Greetings, there are a lot of resources regarding books on clean and healthy eating. There is not one specific book for all Muslims on diet and cleaning the body. Muslims follow a set of dietary laws which are outlined in the Holy Qur’an. Muslims are allowed to eat what is “good” – that is, what is pure, clean, wholesome, nourishing, and pleasing to the taste. Muslims are enjoined by their religion to abstain from eating certain foods & drinks (ie. pork or alcohol). This is in the interest of health and cleanliness, and in obedience to G-d. Here are a few resources that you may want to begin with if you are looking for something to help you on your path to find resources on clean eating within the Islamic tradition:

      Halal and Haram: The Islamic Dietary Laws:
      Why Is Alcohol Forbidden in Islam?:
      Tayyib: The Foundation of Ethical Eating and Conscious Consumption by Imam Dawood Yasin:

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