You should falafel if you’ve never tried “falafel.” Ok, bad joke. But, in all honestly, it’s one of my favorite Mediterranean meals. I love the chickpea crunch paired with garlic, yogurt and lemon in a falafel sandwich. Falafel is a traditional Mediterranean food made from ground chickpeas that are deep-fried and usually served in a pita with sauce. Despite its bean-based ingredient, the deep fry method makes it one of less healthy dishes on the Mediterranean menu.
You can health-ify this recipe by baking, pan-frying or air-frying the falafel. Last week in Trader Joe’s, a “falafel mix” caught my eye. Could it be a delicious short-cut? Trader Joe’s falafel mix advertises that you only need to add water. Heck, yes! That’s my kind of instruction. However, when I followed the recipe as written, the falafel was very SALTY. I checked the Nutrition Facts label and realized my tastebuds were on point. One serving of falafel (3 small balls) contained 810 mg of sodium. TJ’s had missed the mark by adding too much salt. That’s not how the Mediterranean Diet rolls. In the Mediterranean, recipes prioritize the use of fresh ingredients and an abundant use of herbs.
Short-Cut Salt Saver
I reconciled the issue by adding a can of no sodium added chickpeas to the mix, plus lemon juice, a garlic clove and a heavy handed cup of fresh parsley. These slight modifications lowered the sodium content by 200 mg per serving but kept the falafel flavors, protein and fiber!
Serve it with my tahini sauce plus fresh herbs for a Mediterranean meal that can be made in minutes. Yes, it includes an additional step beyond adding water, but your blood pressure will thank you.
Curious about an air-fryer? Here is the one I received from my Fontbonne dietetic interns, Thank you! I love the large viewing window so I can monitor the progress of food as it’s cooking.
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 c. Trader Joe’s Falafel Mix
- 1 15.5 oz can rinsed, drained no salt added chickpeas
- 1 c. parsley, fresh
- 1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 T. olive oil
- If using an oven, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Blend 3/4 cup water into 1 cup dry mix. Cover loosely and let stand 30-60 minutes.
- Add mixture to a food processor and blender plus the chickpeas, parsley, lemon and garlic.
- Pulse until well combined.
- Use a small scoop to gather falafel and shape by hand into 12 balls.
- Oven directions: place balls on well-greased cookie sheet or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until golden 15 minutes.
- Air-Fryer directions: place balls on air-fryer basket and air fry for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
- Top with your favorite yogurt dressing or my tahini sauce, olives and tomatoes!
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 198
- Sugar: 0 g
- Sodium: 655.7 mg
- Fat: 6.3 g
- Carbohydrates: 27.3 g
- Fiber: 9 g
- Protein: 10 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg