Crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, falafel is a Middle Eastern dish made from blended chickpeas mixed with spices and herbs. The blend is made into balls, then deep fried or baked. You can eat falafel on its own, but it’s more often than not served with pita bread, plus hummus or tahini and salad… yum!
Falafel is made from fibre-packed chickpeas, but it may not always be as nutritious as we think. It really depends on how you cook it, and how much of it you eat. Most falafels are deep fried in oil. This may makes it very high in fat and ups our calorie intake significantly. We also have to be aware of its sodium (salt) content. Often prepackaged mixes or recipes contain large amounts of salt and spice mixes (with added ‘hidden salts’).
However, falafel is a great dish to encourage people to eat more plant based foods, which benefits the body as well as the environment. It is high in fibre and protein and contains iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorous and B vitamins. The spices and herbs used in the mix are also full of antioxidants like cumin, cayenne pepper, coriander and parsley.
So, how can you make falafel as healthy as possible (but still DELICIOUS)?!
Making a few simple swaps in your recipe can instantly bump up the health benefits and nutrition profile of falafels. I would recommend baking it, or using the air fryer like I did in my recipe below. If you eat it in a pita, opt for a whole wheat pita as it contains fibre to help promote healthy digestion. Also, load your pita with lots of fresh veggies like cucumber, tomatoes, onions, lettuce and peppers to bulk it up. Avoid using falafel mixes when you can, and rather make fresh falafels at home. Not only is it healthier to make from scratch, but it is definitely way more tasty!
I am a sucker for a good falafel, and anything Mediterranean for that matter ( you can see why here: The Med Way.). So, naturally, I have been trying to recreate a healthy falafel recipe. I think I have finally nailed the recipe, so here goes:
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 1 small onion, grated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup parsley, finely chopped
- ½ cup coriander, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 dessert spoon lemon juice
- 1 dessert spoon olive oil
- I used my Nutribullet to blend all the ingredients together (but you can use any food processor). Place the drained chickpeas and all other ingredients in your blender and blend well. (HOW EASY IS THAT?!)
- Wet your hands to roll the mixture into falafel balls easily. I rolled the mixture into balls the same size as golf balls.
- Spray the basket of your air fryer with Spray n Cook, or spray your baking tray if planning on using the oven.
- Place balls into air fryer. Set the temperature to 180 degrees and set the timer to 16 minutes. After 8 minutes, turn the falafel.
- If you plan on using your oven: Place the balls onto your tray and bake for 30 minutes. Turn the falafel half way.
The mixture keeps in the fridge if you want to prepare it in advance. You can store the baked or unbaked falafel in the freezer too.
Please let me know if you like these falafel in the comments! I hope you love them as much as I do!
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