Oil-less falafel

Falafel is a traditional dish from the Middle East that is usually prepared by frying a dense sort of batter made from ground chickpeas, onions, oil, and spices that are rolled into balls. Sometimes other beans or legumes would be used in place of chickpeas. Parsley and cumin are the most important spices, while others are added to taste. The inner parts of falafel can even take on a green color from all of the parsley ground into the mixture!

Though falafel may remind some of the meatballs, this dish is by no means a modern vegan meat alternative; this dish has a long-standing tradition and was probably even eaten by ancient pharaohs! 

Today, falafel wrapped in pita bread with vegetables and sauces are a popular meal and street food throughout Europe (go thank your local immigrants for sharing their tasty recipes with you!). For our lunch, however, we decided to take a bit of a different angle on falafel, baking it in the oven rather than frying it in oil. We chose to do it this way for a variety of reasons. Obviously, too much fat in the diet is not good; though vegetable fats do not contain the harmful saturated fatty acids of animal fats, they can still be problematic when used for frying. Due to the high temperatures, harmful substances like acrylamide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) can appear in the oil. Additionally, a large amount of oil is used in frying which is then discarded, which is hardly economically- or ecologically-friendly. Suffice to say we helped out our bodies, wallets, and the environment by choosing to bake rather than fry (although we too know the great pleasure that comes from biting into fried food!).


Recipe, preparation, and price

 

Quantity

(g or ml)

Price for 4 person

(EUR)

Main dish

Chickpea

350

1,15

Onion

160

0,24

Garlic

30

0,08

Salt

4

0,00

Tahini

30

0,60

Parsley

40

0,32

Salat

Red cabbage

700

0,69

Olive oil

20

0,20

Salt

4

0,00

Together

3,28

 

Preparations for our falafel began the day before our meal with the chickpeas being soaked in water. This is important as if you were to use canned chickpeas your falafels would be too moist and fall apart! On the day of, we drained the chickpeas and then coarsely ground them up in a blender. Make sure not to mix too much, you are making falafel, not hummus! Once ground up a bit, we also threw in chopped onion and garlic as well as parsley and ground it together. Finally, we added spices and a teaspoon of tahini (sesame seed butter).

With our coarse “dough,” we formed moderately sized balls with our hands and then placed them on the onion peels that we had saved while chopping in order to get our falafels crispy on top and moist at the bottom. We put this all together into a preheated oven and baked it for 15 minutes. In addition to our falafel, we also prepared a salad of thinly-sliced purple cabbage that was seasoned with oil and salt.

The price of our 4-person lunch was only 3.28€, which meant 82 cents per person! Just another day of proving that a vegan diet can be prepared to be nutritious and tasty with minimal cost.


Nutritional value

With lunch consumed quantity

% From daily needs

Energy

502,73

kcal

25,14

Proteins

22,96

g

41,01

Total fats

14,32

g

32,55

Carbohydrates

76,79

g

 

Starch

35,00

g

 

Sugar

17,92

g

 

Fibers

16,22

g

64,86

Calcium (Ca)

197,23

mg

19,72

Iron (Fe)

6,23

mg

62,26

Magnesium (Mg)

115,22

mg

28,81

Phosphorus (P)

358,28

mg

51,18

Potassium (K)

1228,64

mg

61,43

Sodium (Na)

857,54

mg

155,92

Zinc (Zn)

3,41

mg

34,12

Copper (Cu)

0,78

mg

86,51

Manganese (Mn)

19,37

mg

842,27

Selenium (Se)

2,33

µg

4,65

Vitamin A

142,95

µg

14,30

Vitamin E

1,72

mg

11,44

Vitamin D

0,00

µg

0,00

Vitamin C

121,85

mg

121,85

Thiamin (B1)

0,67

mg

51,35

Riboflavin (B2)

0,37

mg

24,89

Niacin (B3)

2,75

mg

19,00

Pantothenic acid (B5)

1,83

mg

30,55

Vitamin B6

1,00

mg

66,31

Folic acid (B9)

549,25

µg

137,31

Vitamin B12

0,00

µg

0,00

Vitamin K

242,02

µg

345,75

 

As usual, today we consumed 25% of our daily caloric needs with this lunch. Our goal is generally to consume as much of other nutrients as we do energy, meaning we would ideally get at least 25% of our daily requirements for each vitamin and mineral as well. We managed to surpass that in some regards, for example with our amazing 41% of our daily protein requirement intake, 32% for fat, and 64% for fiber! We also managed 62% for iron, 29% for magnesium, 61% for potassium, and 34% for zinc, which is important for the proper functioning of our immune systems. Our meal also contained many vitamins, giving us as much as 121% of our daily need for vitamin C and 137% for folic acid, while also being rich in vitamins B1, B2, B5 and B6 (now THAT is a mighty meal!). We consumed just under 25% of our requirements for calcium and selenium, which, in addition to purple cabbage, is found mainly in mushrooms, sunflower seeds, Brazil nuts, artichokes, garlic, and tofu. Our consumption for vitamin A was similar, this being a vitamin often found in carrots, spinach, swiss chard, parsley, sweet potatoes, and other veggies. All nutrients that were a bit lacking can easily be made up for in other meals. All this being said, we did not consume vitamins D and B12, as is normal for unfortified plant foods. Thankfully there have been some sunny weather starting, so we can get out and let our skin provide us with some vitamin D.

If you have questions about today’s lunch (or ideas for future lunches) then feel free to write to us at hungry.pumpkin.blog@gmail.com and we will get back to you!

Have a great weekend!

-The Hungry Pumpkin Team

PS: Since we had some extra chickpea “dough” and half ahead of purple cabbage left, we made falafel again the next day, though without onion bases in the oven, making them crispy all around the outside and soft inside. The next day we stewed the cabbage with oil, wine, a bit of peanut butter, and cinnamon. This was delicious and creamy, but not very photogenic 🙂

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