12/9/09

Falafel anyone?

If you know anything about Falafel's, you know I needed to do some major reconstruction on this recipe in order to make it healthy.
Falafel is an Arabic word, popular in Egypt and the Middle East. You can typically find Falafel as a fried ball or patty made from spiced chickpeas or fava beans. Although you may see a ball when you order Falafel, it is usually served flat/crushed in pita-bread or flat bread.
Palestinians and Yemenite Jews historically made Falafel from chickpeas and parsley whereas the Egyptian version uses only fava beans. The beans in Falafel are not cooked, unlike a typical bean patty, but rather soaked with bicarbonate of soda and ground with onion, parsley and spices (ex. cumin and coriander). After the mixture is formed, the ball is deep fried.
Although the Falafel is found all around the world, if you happen to go to Egypt you can just go to McDonald's and order the Mcfalafel.

(I tried really hard but couldn't find the calories for the McFalafel. I can only imagine that it is not kind for an Egyptians' waistline).

There are many types of oils that are used for cooking. While deep frying foods is not recommended, there are several oils that contain excellent fats for your heart-healthy diet.
Here are popular oils:
Canola oil
Coconut oil
Corn oil
Flaxseed oil
Grapeseed oil
Rapeseed oil
Hazelnut oil
Olive oil
Peanut oil
Safflower oil
Sesame oil
Sunflower oil
Walnut oil

Here are your healthy fats:
Monounsaturated fat - Olive oil, peanut oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds
Polyunsaturated fat - Vegetable oils (such as safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils), nuts and seeds
Omega-3 fatty acids - Fatty, cold-water fish (such as salmon, mackerel and herring), flaxseeds, flax oil and walnuts
Mono and polyunsaturated fats will help to reduce the total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in your blood as well as lowering your risk for heart disease.
Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat and may decrease the risk of coronary artery disease as well as decreasing blood pressure.

Here are your unhealthy fats:
Saturated fats - Animal products (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, lard and butter), and coconut, palm and other tropical oils
Trans fat - Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, commercial baked goods (such as crackers, cookies and cakes), fried foods (such as doughnuts and french fries), shortening and margarine
Saturated and trans fats increase your risk of heart disease by increasing your total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol. Trans fats are monounsaturated or polyunsaturated by nature but they are altered by partial hydrogenation. Partial hydrogenation changes the oils, which are naturally liquid at room temperature, to become solid (from cis to trans formation), therefore modifying the fat so it is more similar to saturated fat. Because Trans fats (hydrogenated) allow foods to have an extended shelf life, baked goods, as well as packaged and fried foods, will typically be high in trans fat.
*But be aware:Under FDA regulations, "if the serving contains less than 0.5 gram [of trans fat], the content, when declared, shall be expressed as zero."
Therefore, if a food claims to have zero grams of trans fat, but you see the words "partially hydrogenated" in the ingredients list (typically near the front of the list) it is likely that you are consuming at least .5grams trans fat if you eat more than 1 serving of that food. For example, a serving of crackers may have .3g of trans fat but according to FDA, the box can list 0 for trans fat grams. However, if you eat 4 servings of crackers in one sitting, you are likely eating 1.2g of trans fat.

*Information in this blog post was taken from wikipedia.org and the Mayo clinic website.

I hope you enjoy my non-fried version of Falafel. Your heart can definitely feel good with this recipe.


Heart-healthy Falafel


Balls:
1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1/4 cup chopped onions
4 large whole mushrooms (chopped)
2 fresh chives (chopped)
2 large Roma tomatoes (chopped)
A pinch of: cumin, no salt garlic and herb, pepper, paprika and coriander.
1 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
2 tbsp soy flour
1 egg
2 tsp olive oil
1-2 ounces of your favorite cheese

Crust:
1 tbsp flax seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tbsp Italian bread crumbs
1 tbsp caraway seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Blend chickpeas, oil and egg in food processor (or blender) until smooth like hummus (may need to add a tbsp or two of water to get the chickpeas going).
3. In a large bowl, add blended chickpeas to veggies.
4. Add spices and flour and mix well.
5. Form balls with chickpea mixture (a bit smaller than a tennis ball). Place on a baking sheet, lined with tinfoil (sprayed with a little non-stick spray).
6. In each ball, poke a hole in the center of the ball with a knife and insert a small piece of cheese (yummy surprise!). Close the ball.
7. Lightly sprinkle the coating mixture (after combining in a bowl) over each ball. Because you will likely have extra coating all over the baking sheet, gently move the chickpea balls over the extra coating mixture in order to use extra coating.
8. Cook for 30-45 minutes or until chickpea ball is firm or coating begins to brown.
9. Serve on top a beautiful salad of dark greens, green peppers, carrots, onion, celery, peanuts, green apples and raisins.