In celebration of National Mediterranean Diet Month, here is the first of two Mediterranean-inspired recipes from Nutritioulicious intern Jo Bartell.
I have always loved falafel. Lucky for me there is no shortage of delicious, crispy falafel at the various Middle Eastern restaurants and falafel stands scattered throughout New York City. For those of you who are not familiar with this delicious food, Falafel is a ball or patty made of ground chickpeas. Falafel can be eaten alone as a snack, but it is often served in a pita pocket topped with vegetables and different sauces such as hummus or a yogurt sauce called tzatziki. The main ingredient of falafel is chickpeas, which makes the falafel high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. This combination of nutrients creates a healthy, satisfying meal component.
The problem with falafel from a nutritional standpoint is that it is usually deep-fried in oil. This cooking method turns a healthy dish into a less healthy version filled with saturated fat and cholesterol. Luckily, I found a great recipe for baked falafel I want to share. It is easy to make and definitely nutritioulicious!
Baked Falafel Balls (adapted from www.food.com)
Serves: 8; Serving Size: 4 falafel balls
- ¾ cup water
- ½ cup bulgar wheat
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra as needed for brushing
- 1 red onion, finely minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
- 1¼ teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
- ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons whole-wheat breadcrumbs*
- ¼ cup minced cilantro
- ¼ cup minced parsley
*Note: You can substitute Panko Breadcrumbs for the whole-wheat breadcrumbs.
- Bring water to a boil and remove from the heat. Mix in the bulgur. Cover and allow the wheat to sit until all the water is absorbed — about 20 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small pan and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until the onion is just transparent.
- Add chickpeas, red chili flakes, salt, cumin, and coriander to the pan and sauté for 1 minute more. Combine the chickpea mixture and bulgur in a food processor.
- Add the lemon juice, breadcrumbs, cilantro, and parsley and process until just mixed and the mixture has a grainy texture. Set mixture aside for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Form falafel mixture into 1-inch balls and place on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Brush the balls with olive oil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden, turning the pan once during baking.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 110 calories, 3.5 g total fat (0 g saturated fat), 17 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 4 g protein, 173 mg sodium
Do you like falafel? Have you ever made it at home?
Posted in Cooking, Dinner, Lunch, Meals, Nutrition Education, Recipes, Snacks
Tagged baked falafel, chickpeas, falafel nutrition, healthy eating, mediterranean diet, national mediterranean diet month, Recipes
Last weekend my husband and I hosted a small New Year’s Eve cocktail party. In addition to some staple items that I always put out for these types of get-togethers like a cheese plate and crudite, I decided to make a bunch of small bite foods, including white bean dip served with homemade pita chips, baked falafel balls, and pureed mushroom soup served in tea cups. So far everything I had was vegetarian, so I wanted to include at least one non-vegetarian dish.
In the past I have made Salmon-Cucumber Rounds, but I wanted to try something new. After searching some of my cookbooks, I came across a completely different salmon recipe: Black-Sesame Salmon Balls. Andy was skeptical (he’s not a huge fan of salmon, despite all the amazing health benefits!), but once he tried them he was raving about them to everyone who would listen! They’re fairly easy to make, so try them out — who couldn’t use a new twist for salmon?!
Black-Sesame Salmon Balls (from Food & Wine’s Annual Cookbook 2010)
Makes 2 dozen salmon balls (Note: I only got about 16 out of the recipe)
- 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped water chestnuts
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon wasabi powder
- 4 small scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
- Spread the salmon cubes on a plate and freeze for 15 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a food processor. Add the water chestnuts, egg white, cornstarch, wasabi powder, three-fourths of the scallions, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the ginger, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and a pinch of pepper. Pulse 4 or 5 times, until the salmon is chopped and the mixture just comes together. Transfer to a bowl.
- Spread the sesame seeds on a plate. Scoop the salmon mixture into mounds of 2 tablespoons each and roll into 24 balls. Roll the balls in the seeds and transfer to 2 glass pie plates. Set one of the plates in a large steamer. Steam the salmon balls over boiling water until firm, about 6 minutes. Repeat with the remaining salmon balls.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil with the remaining scallions and ginger. Serve the salmon balls with the dipping sauce.
What are some of your favorite cocktail party recipes?
*Note: I do not work with Food & Wine, nor was I compensated or asked to write this post.
Posted in Cooking, Dinner, Entertaining, Lunch, Recipes
Tagged baked falafel, black-sesame salmon balls, cheese plate, cocktail parties, crudite, food & wine cookbook, food & wine magazine, food and wine, health benefits of salmon, healthy cocktail party eating, healthy dips, jessica fishman levinson ms rd cdn, jessica fishman levinson nutritioulicious, mushroom soup, pita chips, registered dietitian jessica fishman levinson, salmon, salmon recipes
Today I have a special guest post by a nutritioulicious™ fan who gets to try almost everything I make in the kitchen…my husband!
Dear nutritioulicious™ Readers,
I am Jessica’s husband, Andrew. I wanted to tell all of you about a great dinner Jessica made for us last night. I am not generally the healthiest eater out there (despite the fact that my wife is a dietitian). I like a lot of flavor, but often that means lots of fat, salt, and calories. But tonight’s dinner was amazing because it was FULL of flavor, but very healthy. We had baked falafel balls (chickpea and cilantro baked to golden brown perfection) accompanied by an amazingly tasty watermelon-lime-cilantro salsa, a warm (in taste, not temperature) roasted corn salad, and a cucumber-chive yogurt sauce. The falafel balls themselves were served on a bed of fancy lettuce, which I wasn’t inclined to eat, but Jessica encouraged me to do so, so I did.
When I asked her how many calories the whole thing was (I had two full plates of it, by the way), she estimated it at less than 600 calories. That’s amazing! So by using healthy herbs and spices, like chives, cilantro, and lemon juice, it’s possible to pack a powerful flavor and keep your meals healthy too.
Posted in Dinner, Guest Posts, Seasonal Eating
Tagged baked falafel, corn and tomato salad, cucumber yogurt dip, eating healthfully, falafel, flavorful healthy food, food full of flavor, guest post, healthy eating, watermelon salsa