Is Falafel Healthy?
Nutrition, Calories, and Recipe
The average American consumes around 2,000 calories per day. That’s enough to keep them alive but not enough to live a long life. The problem with Americans is they don’t eat many vegetables or fruits which are very high in nutrients such as vitamins A and C.
They also consume too much meat and dairy products. These foods have been linked to cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. People need to eat more fresh produce and less red meats, dairy products and refined sugar.
One way to do it is through eating falafel. These little patties of chickpeas, onions, tomatoes and spices are full of protein, fiber and contain only 1 gram of fat each! (1)
Falafel is popular in some parts of the world where there isn’t a lot of access to fresh fruit or vegetables. In these places, people make their own falafel from dried chickpeas and other ingredients. You can buy pre-made falafel at most grocery stores.
But if you’re going to make your own, here are some tips:
Use whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Whole wheat flours are higher in fiber than white flours so they’ll give you fewer empty calories when making your own falafel. Plus it tastes better and has more nutrients.
You can substitute half of the chickpeas with black beans or other legumes. The mixture won’t be as firm when you cook it, but it still tastes good.
Use water instead of oil to keep your falafel moist and full of fiber.
Never deep-fry your falafel. Always shallow-fry or pan-fry them in a non-stick pan.
If you’re a strict vegetarian, then make sure you use vegetable oil to cook your falafel.
These tips should help you make your own falafel. If you don’t want to do that, then you can always buy pre-made falafel from the store or a restaurant.
Here are some fun ways to eat falafel:
Layer sliced tomato and lettuce leaves on a pita bread. Add a few falafel patties. Pour some tahini sauce on the falafel and then eat it like a wrap.
Mix canned garbanzo beans, chopped onion, fresh parsley, garlic and salt together in a bowl. Add one cup of bread crumbs and a beaten egg. Form mixture into small patties and shallow-fry them or pan-fry them.
Serve with couscous that has dried apricots, raisins and brown sugar cooked in.
After boiling potatoes, peel them and cut them into small cubes. Boil the cubed potatoes in a mixture of whole milk and water until they are soft. Mash the potatoes with a fork and add salt, chili pepper, garlic powder and fresh parsley.
Sautee chopped onions in a non-stick pan for 3 minutes. Add a pinch of allspice, coriander, cumin, black pepper and cinnamon. After 1 more minute, add chickpeas and tomato paste.
Fry mixture for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chopped tomatoes and salt to taste. Cook sauce for one minute. Serve on top of white rice or couscous.
Is Falafel Good for Weight Loss?
Yes, falafel is very good for weight loss because it’s low in fat and full of protein.
You can eat as much falafel as you want because it has very few calories. Falafel also makes you feel full so you’re less likely to eat something high in calories. Eating too much is one of the main reasons why people gain weight.
If you eat a falafel pita for lunch, then you’ll be less likely to eat junk food later because you’ll feel full.
It’s important to eat healthy foods like falafel even when you’re not on a diet. Try it today and enjoy!
You don’t need expensive equipment or a lot of time to make delicious falafel. All you need is a food processor, bowl and baking sheet.
The texture of falafel mixture needs to be just right. If it’s too wet, then the falafel will be too soft and oily. If it’s too dry, then the falafel will be crunchy and taste cheesy (yuck).
To get the right texture, you need to slowly add the falafel to the hot oil. The mixture should be in small clumps. If it doesn’t clump together, then add more chickpea flour.
If it’s too clumpy, then add a little bit of water.
After the falafel is done cooking, place them on a paper towel to remove the excess oil. Then place them in a clean bowl and toss them in sesame seeds to keep them from sticking together.
Makes 8 falafel patties
You can find the ingredients for this recipe in any supermarket:
1 15.5-ounce can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/4 medium sized onion
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
1 tablespoon of garlic powder
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of coriander
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
Oil (for frying)
Sesame seeds (optional)
Here’s how to make it:
Drain the liquid from the can of garbanzo beans and rinse them. Place them in a food processor and add the fresh parsley, garlic powder, cumin, coriander, baking powder and salt. Slowly add the all-purpose flour until the mixture starts to clump together.
You may not need to use all of the flour. Turn the falafel mixture out onto a clean work surface. Use your hands to form the mixture into a ball. Then use your hands to flatten the ball into a thick patty. Place the falafel onto a plate and cover it with plastic wrap. Make all of the falafel this way, then refrigerate them for 1 hour. This will help the falafel keep their shape when you cook them. After an hour, place enough oil in a large frying pan so that it’s only 1/4 inch deep. Heat the oil on medium-high heat. Use a spatula to carefully place 2 or 3 falafel in the pan. Cook them for about 4 minutes on each side. The falafel will be ready when they are a dark brown color. Repeat with the remaining falafel. Place the cooked falafel on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Then place them on a plate and cover them with sesame seeds. Serve immediately!
Tip: Place the falafel in a warm pan (or in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven) right before serving to improve the taste and texture.
As an alternative, try serving these delicious falafel patties in a pita pocket with lettuce, onion and tomato. You can also serve them with hummus (chickpea dip), tahini (sesame seed paste) or amba (mango) chutney. Enjoy!
Sources & references used in this article:
Falafel: a meal with full nutrition by M Ismail, E Kucukoner – Food and Nutrition Sciences, 2017 – scirp.org
The vegetarian alternative: A guide to a healthful and humane diet by VS Sussman – 1978 – agris.fao.org
Nutrition and health implications of dry beans: a review. by PB Geil, JW Anderson – … of the American College of Nutrition, 1994 – Taylor & Francis
Focus on food: development of the Cooking with Kids experiential nutrition education curriculum by LM Walters, JE Stacey – Journal of nutrition education and behavior, 2009 – jneb.org
Food, culture, and diabetes in the United States by KD Kulkarni – Clinical Diabetes, 2004 – Am Diabetes Assoc
The nutritional composition of selected ethnic foods consumed in Italy by L Marletta, E Camilli, A Turrini, P Scardella… – Nutrition …, 2010 – Wiley Online Library
Adaptation of international nutrition databases and data-entry system tools to a specific population by I Shai, H Vardi, DR Shahar, AB Azrad… – … health nutrition, 2003 – cambridge.org
Falafel and Shwarma: Israeli Food in Mexico by PK Schuster – Transnational Marketing Journal (TMJ), 2018 – ceeol.com