Food is a fuel for the body, but we all know that it is so much more than that to us! Social gatherings, celebrations, festivals and even when we are just watching a movie… food is almost always involved. We bond over food and show our hospitality and creativity through the foods we share. Certain foods may also be ingrained into our cultures or religions as blessed or lucky foods. Regardless of the reason, we find pleasure in food more than just as metabolic nourishment.
In the spirit of social gatherings and good times with loved ones, here is the Middle Eastern falafel merged with edamame – a flavour inspired from my very own Japanese culture.
Falafels make a delicious starter (or Mezza) served with a simple yoghurt dip. The key ingredient, chickpeas, have been hailed as a low-GI carbohydrate meaning that your body absorbs the carbs in a slower steadier rate for longer lasting energy. Warning – it’s still important to note that falafels still pack a hefty load of carbs and fat! A cup of cooked chickpeas (around 3-4 falafel balls) packs a stodgy 26g of carbs, which is nearly 2 carb exchanges! Especially for people with diabetes or anyone watching their blood sugars, this can mean half a meal’s worth of carbs.
Being traditionally deep fried, falafels are also high in fat – ever had that heavy feeling after a plateful of greasy falafels? Commercial versions also tend to be high in salt, which might explain our sudden thirst afterwards (and that can of soda in your hand?). Top it with dollops of hummus and a couple of Lebanese breads… and you’ve only just started your meal, hmm…
Good news! Here are some simple, healthy and delicious tricks you can use to make this Middle Eastern fav into a low-carb, diabetes-friendly masterpiece. Keep reading to find out how…
Swap chickpeas for edamame
Edamames are chickpeas’ Asian cousins and are young green soybeans often served in their pods as a refreshing entrée in Japanese restaurants. Cup-for-cup, edamame has:
- Half the carbs of chickpeas (13g vs 26g)
- Just as much fibre (8g, or over a quarter of your daily fibre target)
- Almost 150% more protein
So you’re getting more bang for your buck! The fat content of edamame is almost three times more than chickpeas, but this is mainly due to higher levels of healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats) which are the fats we need more of in our diets!
Serve as a side instead of a main
By serving the dish as a starter, you reduce the portion size and the total amount of carbs (half a carb exchange per serve for my recipe below). This way, you’re keeping your blood sugars and waistlines happy. Thank you, edamame!
Did you know that baking instead of deep frying can slash the fat from frying oils while still keeping the same crunchy deliciousness?? To cut out salt, you can experiment with combinations of herbs and spices from your pantry or local grocery – in my recipe, I added plenty of garlic, parsley and coriander to get beautiful accents of flavour with zero salt.
Eggs are often used as a binding agent for making mixtures denser, but for a vegan-friendly option, silken tofu (another product of soybeans) makes a clever egg substitute. Tofu’s mild recessive taste makes a nice backdrop for the stronger spices and its soft texture contributes to a lighter stomach-feel. No more greasy aftermaths! The greek yoghurt can also be swapped out for soy or tofu yoghurts with lime zest for an added zing.
AND it’s a cheap ‘n’ quick eat!
As well as health benefits, these falafels are cheap, quick and easy to make – which are blessed positives for our wallets and time-poor lives. They are under a dollar per ball (see my cost analysis below). Edamames are available in packs of 400-500g or 1kg in the chilled or frozen section of local Asian grocers – win! I bought a 400g pack for $3.50, which is slightly pricier than the canned chickpeas (usually under $1 ), but since they are already precooked their preparation time is equally as minimal as canned chickpeas – just thaw the beans in the fridge overnight or zap in the microwave for a minute. You’ll also notice that there’s very little equipment involved… which means less washing up! Hooray!
Serves: 6 people as a side dish (approx. 16-18 balls)
Cost: $16.35 ($2.75 per serve)
Cooking time: 30 mins
- 2 cups edamame, fresh or thawed if frozen
- 2 tbsp wholemeal plain flour
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- ¼ cup classic or silken tofu, mashed (see examples of tofu varieties from Evergreen here)
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp mixed herbs
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, or juice of ½ lemon
- ½ tsp baking soda
Spiced yoghurt dip:
- 1 tsp curry powder
- ½ cup low fat greek style plain yoghurt (e.g. Chobani)
- Black pepper, to season
- Canola or olive oil spray
Let’s get cooking:
- Preheat oven to 200oC and line a baking tray with baking paper and spray with olive or canola oil spray.
- Add all ingredients except curry powder, yoghurt and black pepper to food processor or blender and pulse until well combined and forms a soft dough. Season with black pepper.
- Roll tablespoonfuls of edamame mixture into balls (use wet hands to avoid a sticky situation!). Place balls on prepared baking tray, pressing down lightly on the top to flatten slightly.
- Bake for 15 mins on each side or until lightly golden brown.
- Stir curry powder into greek yoghurt and season with black pepper to taste.
- Serve edamame falafel warm or cooled with yoghurt dip.
- While a food processor would do the trick like a dream, this is one of the few kitchen basics that I do NOT have at home… so I found that a stick blender or regular smoothie blender also does the trick perfectly!
- When making the falafel bowls, have a bowl of water to refresh your hands or dust your hands with some plain flour to prevent the dough from sticking to them – but remember that this would mean that you are adding extra carbs from the flour.
- Uncooked balls can be made a few days in advance and chilled. They can also be frozen for up to 6 months. To serve, thaw and bake according to the recipe.
One serve provides around 2 serves of veggies.
|Total fat (g)||1.8|
|– Saturated fat (g)||0.3|
|– Sugars (g)||3.7|