Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Food Journey: Falafel is Vegan?

Falafel is one of my favorite Mediterranean dishes.  I love falafel on it's own or with all the fixings. I started making my own falafel late last year.  In the past I've used the boxed version and had it in restaurants many times.  No restaurant makes it the same way.

Falafel has become one of my favorite things to cook.  All of the versions I've made have been different  (some not so good as others).  After following a recipe the first time I abandoned all boundaries and improvised to make it allergen free ( no wheat).  It's such a good meal you will not miss the meat! Yes...falafel is all vegan! A very simplistic, flavorful and healthy vegan dish at that!

The main ingredient in falafel is chickpea (aka garbanzo bean or chana).  This bean is a source of  complete proteins (19.3%)  which by definition includes essential and non-essential amino acids with the exception of methionine.  Chickpeas paired with a whole grain will give you protein bliss.  Here are some other benefits:
  • low in fat
  • abundant in the B-complex vitamins (except for B12)
  • high in minerals (iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium and zinc)
  • high in fiber
  • nutritional  proportions are balance and can be used as the main dish in vegetarian meals
  • recommended for stress and depression due to the B-complex vitamins present


Chickpeas


What a bean!! All that in a bean?? We don't give enough credit to beans in our society.  They are seen as poor man's food and boring.  In our house beans are the bomb diggy!  They are cheap and very good for you.  Who said a poor man's food was bad in the first place???  I'm all about good food for a reasonable price and beans fit the bill.  But please soak before use...it helps eliminate the flatulence beans get a lot of  publicity for.

Okay..so on to the falafel recipe:

Ingredients:
chick peas -  soaked overnight or longer (10- 12 hours).  This is a pretty hefty bean and needs a lot of time for the water do it's job.
onions - fresh
garlic - fresh
olive oil
coconut flour (to build consistency, any other flour can be used like rice, wheat or oat...but I like to keep it gluten free)
coconut oil for cooking (again any other oil can be used)
coriander - to taste
cumin - to taste
salt - to  taste
herbs (I've used the following: dill, cilantro, parsley but there's a ton out there)

You can blend everything in stages or all together.  I typically blend the chickpeas, onions, garlic and olive oil together first.  Then I blend in the herbs.  The spices are added to the mixture in a bowl and the flour is added as needed to get a thick pasty consistency for ease of cooking and eating.  The less water used the better.  Add as much oil to get the mixture churning as possible.  Now I've had some blunders where I've had to throw the mix away....there was just no way to salvage what was in that bowl!! I tried...and ended up making it worse!!

I usually pan fry the falafel mixture in coconut oil and eat it with pita bread and salad (tomatoes, onions, herbs, greens and lemon juice).  I'm still working on a white sauce recipe free of sesame seeds. Any suggestions?? You can add any fixings your heart desires.  Caleb loves falafel and it's a good way for me to get him to eat some greens (my falafel is usually very herby).  The cook time is less than 4 minutes on each side.


Cooked falafel

 Love, love, love it!

Try it out and let me know how it goes!!

Peace and blessings!