Being born in Norway in the 70s, luckily I was never raised on hamburgers or fast food, so never really acquired a taste for them. That does not mean I wasn’t guilty of ordering high fat, sloppy burgers when I arrived to this country and before I turned vegan. But I remember really looking more forward to the French fries than the actual burger…. guess I’ve always been a closeted vegan!
Now that my diet is free of animal products, I’m always in search for hearty meals that does not have to come with artery clogging, saturated fat, or loaded with sugar and salt, but rather are packed with flavor and has a great texture. A true “cheat meal” without leaving me feeling stuffed and awful afterwards. Enter the falafel….. When I order them at restaurants, I always ask if they make them with eggs (you’d be surprised how many people think you “need” eggs in recipes, not so!) just to make sure they are 100% plant based. Check this awesome chart for great ideas to what you can use in place of chicken periods… I mean, eggs:
More times than not, however, I get disappointed when I bite in to falafels when eating out, as they are either flavorless or have a mushy texture (I’m all about texture in food). A recent trip to my neighborhood pub, however, left me really positively surprised, as they had a ton of flavorful spices and were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. This inspired me to come up with a home made version that I can make whenever I want, and am happy to report I found a wonderful recipe that I tweaked a little to make it my own. The wonderful thing about falafels is that you can save them for days afterwards, make a big batch, and crumble them into stews, salads, in a variety of sandwiches and wraps or as a topping in soups. These are low in fat, as they are baked but give you soooo much satisfaction on the lips! Hope you will try them out this weekend!
As always, please comment below if you are looking for help with transitioning to a plant based diet, I’m here to help with any questions and guidance and am happy to show you how healthy, tasty and exciting this lifestyle is!
HERBED FALAFELS (vegan and gluten free)
- 2 1/2 cups chickpeas (canned is fine, just rinse them well) plus 1/2 cup chickpeas, divided
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup sweet onion, roughly chopped
- fresh lemon juice from one lemon
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 1/2 tbsp brown rice flour
- 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
- 1/4 cup packed fresh dill
- 1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup ground flax
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne, optional
- 1-2 tsp sea or kosher salt or to taste
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Add the 2 1/2 cups of chickpeas, garlic, onion, fresh lemon juice, tahini and fresh herbs in a food processor. Process until just combined, being careful not to over-process. You want to leave texture.
Scoop the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the ground flax, rice flour, cumin, coriander. optional chili powder/cayenne, reserved 1/2 cup of chickpeas, and salt and pepper to taste. Shape into patties, about 1/4 cup each and really pack the dough in tightly so it holds together. Place the sesame seed on a plate and roll the falafel patties in the sesame seeds and place them on a greased / dressed baking sheet (You can use parchment or foil), and bake in oven for about 30 minutes until golden on top (turn them half way through).
Serve with whole wheat pita bread (optional if you’re watching your carb intake) and a salad of chopped tomato, red onion, cucumbers, falafel, and Lemon Tahini Dressing (recipe below).
Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 1/4 cup Tahini
- 1 large garlic clove
- juice from two large lemons
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 3 tbsp water, or as needed
Combine everything in a food processor and process until smooth.