This week, I switched it up from my typical chicken and rice variation and instead made one of my favorites: falafel. While this is probably far from authentic Middle Eastern food, it’s a quick and flavorful meal that I look forward to all week. It’s also vegan, though I make a homemade Tzatziki sauce that has a yogurt base. Falafel is a very versatile food; it can top a salad, be thrown into a pita or be used as an appetizer for a larger meal.

Tamari Dzotsenidze / Daily Nexus

Ingredients:

1 can chickpeas

Fresh cilantro

2 tbsps. flour

3-4 cloves garlic (to taste)

Spices: salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, cumin

Directions:

  1. First, prepare a baking sheet by covering it with oil or parchment paper to ensure the falafel doesn’t stick. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Drain the can of chickpeas, then use a fork (or your hands) to smash them. You can also use a food processor; however, I’ve found that manually mashing them results in better texture. Dice the garlic into small pieces, then stir it into the chickpeas, adding the spices to taste. Separate the cilantro leaves from the stem, then finely chop and add to mixture.
  3. Once all the ingredients are combined, slowly add the flour until the chickpea mixture is sticky. Then, form the falafels into small golf ball-sized balls. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping them halfway.

Tamari Dzotsenidze / Daily Nexus

Simple Tzatziki: I like to eat these with a simple tzatziki sauce that takes less than two minutes to prepare at home. It adds a level of freshness and keeps the falafel from feeling dry. This simple yogurt based-sauce adds extra protein to your meal.

Ingredients:

1 cup greek yogurt

¼ cucumber

Dill weed

Black pepper

Lemon

Chop the cucumber into small pieces. Mix into the greek yogurt, add roughly 1 tablespoon dill, black pepper to taste and lemon juice to taste (I use juice of ½ a lemon).

To serve: Falafel can be eaten cold, but because I prefer it warm, I toss three into a frying pan to heat them up and then put them inside half a pita with tzatziki, red onion and chopped tomatoes.

 

This recipe makes roughly three servings. Each serving of three falafels is roughly 375 calories. With half of a Trader Joe’s pita bread, a half pita with tzatziki, falafel, tomatoes and red onion is roughly 550 calories with seven grams of fat, 92 grams of carbs and 32 grams of protein.

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