Falafel Salad with Flax Hummus (or How I Almost Ate a Cup of Coconut Oil) (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

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Let’s cut to the chase (I hate it when bloggers tell a whole epistle to the Romans before they finally get to their recipe, making their readers scroll forever, what with their many process shots):

I was kinda craving a Middle Eastern bowl like the ones they sell at Fresh Restaurants in Toronto.  I really felt like eating falafels, and I was paying too much for store-bought and fast-food versions so I resorted to “home-made.”  These taste like the real thing.  Plus, they’re healthy, they’re filled with protein and healthy fats and they’re gluten-free.  It’s a win-win all around.

Falafels

3 cups chickpeas

1/2 red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1/2 cup fresh parsley (or 3 tbsp dried parsley)

1/3 cup flour (you can use gluten-free or rice flour)

2 tsp salt

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp ground coriander

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp baking powder

4 tbsp tahini (optional)

cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions:

  1. I’m the kind of person that just likes to dump everything into my food processor and let it spin, so that’s what I did.  Don’t let it process too long though– the batter is supposed to be slightly lumpy.  We don’t want a smooth, paste-like, spread-like consistency here.  We like lumps and bumps.
  2. Form your falafel batter into small balls and put them in the fridge so they can firm up a little.  I didn’t do this the first time around and so they fell apart while frying in my frying pan and soaked up a lot of oil, which is why I almost ended up eating a cup of coconut oil with my falafels.  If you let them firm up and take shape, they will be much easier to fry.
  3. Fry them like you would fry fried dumplings (assuming that you know how to fry fried dumplings…): Put 3 tbsp of oil (coconut or avocado oil) and fry each side until browned.  Add more oil if needed (but hopefully you won’t need much because you’ve allowed your falafels to take shape in the fridge beforehand right?).
  4. Let drain on a plate covered with paper towel.  Serve hot on a bed of tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, or in a pita.

Flax Hummus (adapted from the Fresh Restaurant cookbook)

I’m not gonna sit here and act like I have an innovative recipe for hummus — they are many floating around the internet and the recipe is pretty standard.  So instead of reinventing the wheel (which is already fine as it is), here’s a recipe for hummus:

1 can of chickpeas drained and rinsed

2 cloves garlic (I like microwave my garlic cloves to make them easier to peel and reduce their sharp, peppery garlic taste)

1/2 to 1/4 cup water (optional and as needed)

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp flaxseed meal

1/3 cup tahini

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground coriander

  1.  Throw it all into a blender and blend.  Add the water in a little as a time to achieve desired consistency.
  2. Once the mixture has reached a smooth consistency, pour it out and keep in a container.  The hummus can stay refrigerated for up to a week.  I wouldn’t hold onto it longer than that.

For more hummus recipes, see here.

Protein-Packed, Allergy-Friendly, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (Gluten-free, Vegan, Nut-free)

It’s been a cold week.  I know I mentioned the cold in my last post, but when you don’t have a car, the cold is always on your mind.  I’ve been living in Canada my whole life, but that won’t stop me from complaining about the cold.  My stats tell me that I have readers of this blog from warm places like Brazil and Jamaica (hi and welcome to all of you! :)).  But just so you people in warm countries know what I’m dealing with, according to the Weather Network, it will be a high of -17 C on Tuesday…

Yup.

I’m not gonna lie — cold weather and bar study make me want to be a hermit and eat cookies.  I’ll admit — sometimes I give in to those latent tendencies and I bake up a storm (lol.  I’m just noticing that I wrote “bake” and did not write “study.”  Quite telling.  Anyways…) .  That said, I want to make sure that whatever I put into my body is nutritious.  I had a hankering for some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies the other day, and so I came up with this.

This is recipe is inspired by the cookie recipes of Melangery, Namely Marly and Oh She Glows.

Why these cookies are awesome sauce:

  • They are nut-free, refined sugar-free, egg free, dairy-free and gluten-free
  • They are soft and chewy and packed with protein. In fact, the hemp seeds serve as a plant-based source of complete protein
  • They are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, iron, fiber and other vital nutrients
  • They make the perfect after workout snack or accompaniment to a healthy breakfast
  • In terms of cookies, these are, by far, one of most nutritious I’ve ever seen (*humble brag*)

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½ cup sunflower seed butter (you can substitute another nut butter, like almond or hazelnut, but then it wouldn’t be nut free)

½ cup melted coconut oil

½ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar

½ cup Sucanat or brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 tbsp flaxmeal

3 Tbsp water

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour (OR 1 cup brown rice flour + ½ cup buckwheat flour OR 1 ½ cups oat flour to make it gluten-free)

1 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

3 Tbsp chia seeds

3 Tbsp hemp seeds

2 Tbsp flaxmeal

1 cup chocolate chips, dairy-free (I used Camino’s 70% dark chocolate chips. Enjoy Life brand also has dairy-free chocolate chips)

There are two ways to make these cookies (or any cookie in general):  the lazy way (which is what I did and is my preferred method), and the proper cookie making way.

The Lazy Way

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat (silicone baking liners).
  2. Combine the 1 tbsp of flaxmeal with the 3 tbsp of water and let sit for at least 5 minutes while you prepare the batter. The mucilaginous, gelatinous properties of flaxmeal will turn this mixture into our “flax egg.” Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine all of the other ingredients (except the chocolate chips and flax egg). With a hand mixer (or a wooden spoon and a strong arm), mix all of the ingredients.  Add the flax egg and mix some more until the batter is consistent.  If the batter is dry, feel free to add a splash of non-dairy milk or water until you have a firm, cookie like batter (not dry and crumbly; it should hold together).  Add the chocolate chips and mix again.
  4. Using an ice scream scoop or your bare hands, scoop 2 tbsp worth of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and press them down into little rounds. The cookie should be no more than 1 cm thick.  If you are a stickler for aesthetics, you can round and smooth the cracked edges with wet or moistened finger tips.
  5. Put the cookies into the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes (I baked mine for 11 minutes).
  6. Once baked, transfer carefully (because they are fragile and may crack!!) to a cooling rack.
  7. These cookies can be safely frozen once baked. I believe the batter can also be frozen to bake later as well.

The Proper Way

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat (silicone baking liners).
  2. Combine the 1 tbsp of flaxmeal with the 3 tbsp of water and let sit for at least 5 minutes while you prepare the batter. The mucilaginous, gelatinous properties of flaxmeal will turn this mixture into our “flax egg.” Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine all of the weet ingredients (except the flax egg). In other words, mix the sunflower seed butter, the melted coconut oil, the sugar and the vanilla together.
  4. In a large bowl, combine all of the other dry ingredients (except the chocolate chips). Stir to combine.  Then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.  With a hand mixer (or a wooden spoon and a strong arm), mix all of the ingredients (including flax egg) together until the batter is consistent.  If the batter is dry, feel free to add a splash of non-dairy milk or water until you have a firm, cookie like batter (not dry and crumbly; it should hold together).  Add the chocolate chips and mix again until well incorporated.
  5. Using an ice scream scoop or your bare hands, scoop 2 tbsp worth of the batter onto the prepared baking sheet and press them down into little rounds. The cookie should be no more than 1 cm thick.  If you are a stickler for aesthetics, you can round and smooth the cracked edges with wet or moistened finger tips.
  6. Put the cookies into the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes (I baked mine for 11 minutes).
  7. Once baked, transfer carefully (because they are fragile and may crack!!) to a cooling rack.
  8. These cookies can be safely frozen once baked. I believe the batter can also be frozen to bake later as well.

Note: You can go all out with the seeds in this recipe and add more.  I sure did. 🙂

Note: If you used the sunflower seed butter, once you bite into the cooled cookies, you may notice that they are green inside.  This freaked me out, so I did some research.  Apparently, it’s normal and nothing to worry about; your cookies are still edible.  For more info on why this happens, see here, here and here.

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They may not be pretty, but they are yummy!  Enjoy these cookies with a tall glass of homemade almond milk and you’re all set!