Falafel is a deep-fried, ball or patty-shaped Middle Eastern dish. Typically, they’re served in a pita with veggies, tzatziki sauce and other plant-based toppings.
Soaked chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are ground up with onions and fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley. Spices like cumin and paprika give them robust flavor and the dish is often fried. It can also be baked for a lighter option.
A popular dish throughout the Middle East, falafel is a vegetarian and vegan food that combines savory chickpeas or fava beans with herbs and spices. The combination of these core ingredients, along with its healthy preparation methods, make falafel a useful part of a well-rounded diet for people who are looking to maintain or lose weight or improve their heart health. Despite these positive aspects of the food, falafel can be high in calories and sodium. This is due to the fact that it is typically deep-fried, which can be harmful to health if consumed on a regular basis.
Fortunately, there are many ways to make the dish healthier by avoiding the deep-frying process and choosing a low-sodium preparation method. For example, baking the falafel or using an air fryer to cook it are both great options for a healthy version of this classic snack. In addition, consuming less salt can help reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
Chickpeas and fava beans are powerhouses of plant-based protein, making them an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans who need to increase their protein intake. In addition, they are a good source of fiber, which can aid in weight loss and promote digestive health by promoting feelings of fullness. They are also a good source of iron and other nutrients that can support optimal health.
When preparing the falafel, try to use organic chickpeas that have not been treated with any pesticides or hormones. The best place to buy these chickpeas is at a natural grocery store or at a farmer’s market. In addition, avoid adding any salt or other seasonings to the recipe in order to preserve the integrity of the food and maintain its nutritional value.
When serving falafel, it is a good idea to pair it with vegetables and a dip. Veggies such as tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, and radishes go perfectly with this dish. In addition, fresh herbs such as parsley and cilantro will bring flavor and color to the food. Finally, a drizzle of hummus or any other Mediterranean dip is always a nice touch.
The primary ingredients in falafel are chickpeas, fava beans or a combination of both. These legumes are soaked, crushed, kneaded and seasoned before frying in hot oil. Other common ingredients in falafel include tahini, garlic, parsley and paprika. These legumes are a great source of protein, soluble fiber and complex carbohydrates which provide energy and enhance satiety.
When made properly, falafel is vegan-friendly and a healthy choice when looking to increase your plant-based diet. Falafel can be eaten in pita or as a stand-alone snack. Falafel is traditionally deep-fried in lard (a pork byproduct) but is now commonly deep-fried in vegetable oils like sunflower, soybean and canola. For a healthier option, you can also bake falafel in the oven instead of frying it.
Choosing the right oil for frying is important because it affects the flavor, texture and nutrition of your falafel. Oils with a higher oxidative stability can resist deterioration at high temperatures and maintain their quality longer. They can also have a lower calorie content and are better for the environment than oil with a lower oxidative stability, which can quickly degrade and produce free fatty acids that can alter the flavor and aroma of your food.
You can use any kind of vegetable oil for frying your falafel but sunflower, soybean and canola oils are the most popular choices for health-conscious consumers. They are rich in unsaturated fats, which are good for your heart and help maintain a healthy weight. They also have a high smoke point, meaning they will not break down or burn easily when exposed to high temperatures.
Another way you can make your falafel healthier is to avoid using tahini, which contains dairy and may contain egg. You can substitute the tahini with a yogurt-based sauce, such as hummus or tzatziki, both of which are vegan-friendly.
When making your own falafel, choose canned chickpeas without a salt-reduction additive and rinse them thoroughly. Then, add the chickpeas and the rest of the ingredients to a food processor and mix until it is a coarse mixture. You will need to do this a few times before the chickpeas are finely ground and mixed well with the other ingredients. After you finish mixing, let the falafel batter sit in the fridge for 45-60 minutes. This will allow the starches to absorb more moisture and improve the falafel’s texture when fried.
Although most falafel is vegan, there are some non-vegan ingredients that may be found in store-bought falafel mixes and certain pre-made patties. However, if you make your own falafel at home, you can avoid these ingredients by making it from scratch. This allows you to control what goes into your food and can help you save money.
Falafel is made from ground garbanzo beans or fava beans. These beans provide a good source of protein which helps maintain lean muscle mass and provides energy. They also contain a large amount of fiber which reduces bad cholesterol in the blood and prevents diabetes. They are also rich in calcium, iron, potassium, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and zinc.
The binders used to hold the chickpeas together when making falafel are usually a combination of spices, herbs, and other vegetables. These ingredients are mixed with the soaked and cooked chickpeas, creating a paste-like substance that is then formed into small balls or patties. The mixture can either be fried in oil or baked in the oven. Typically, fried falafel is served in pita bread but they can also be eaten on their own or with other salads and side dishes.
When making falafel at home, it’s important to use the right binders and seasonings to ensure that the final product is as flavorful and healthy as possible. You should always choose the freshest spices and vegetables available and try to incorporate a variety of colors, which are more nutritionally dense than single-color foods. You can also add more nutrient-dense foods like spinach and greens to your falafel, which will provide you with an extra serving of veggies that will boost the overall health benefits of this snack.
Many people ask if falafel is healthy, but it depends on how it’s prepared and consumed. Traditionally, fried falafel is deep-fried in lard or other animal fats, but today it’s more often made with vegetable oils and can be eaten at restaurants that are primarily vegetarian. Falafel can also be baked in the oven instead of frying it, which is a healthier option. When baking, you should use cooking spray to prevent the falafel from sticking to the pan and ensure that it is properly baked.
Falafel is a staple in many vegetarian and vegan diets. It is a Middle Eastern recipe made primarily of fava beans or chickpeas and traditionally deep-fried. The dish can be found in restaurants around the world, where it is often served as a vegetarian option to meat-based sandwiches and entrees. Falafel can also be served on a pita or as an appetizer, and it is typically enjoyed with hummus, Israeli salad, or other Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
While there are variations to the falafel recipe, most recipes for this dish start with a base of dried ground chickpeas or fava beans that are then mixed with spices, herbs, and oil. The mixture is shaped into balls or patties and then deep-fried, usually in vegetable oil. It is common to find ingredients like onion, garlic, parsley, paprika, and sesame seeds added to the recipe as well. Often, baking soda is also used to help the falafel batter retain its shape during frying.
The legumes used in falafel are rich sources of protein, soluble fiber, and complex carbohydrates. These nutrients support a healthy body and mind, as well as lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Additionally, the herbs and spices used in falafel recipes have disease-fighting antioxidants and other nutritional benefits.
In addition to its protein-rich properties, this dish is a good source of iron and folic acid. It is also low in glycemic index and cholesterol and contains no trans fats, making it a great choice for those watching their blood sugar levels. In fact, one serving of falafel provides about 30% of the recommended daily intake for dietary fiber.
This dish can be easily made at home using a food processor, mixing bowls, basic kitchen utensils, and a pan or skillet for frying or baking the falafel. It is a perfect meal on its own or can be served in a pita with veggies, hummus, and a refreshing salad or Mediterranean-inspired dish, such as this Cauliflower Tabbouleh Salad. In restaurants, it is also common to see this food item topped with tzatziki sauce or feta cheese, both of which contain dairy, and so it is important to check the menu before ordering to ensure that the dish is fully plant-based.