Raise your hand if you enjoy fried food. Come on…raise it up there, I know you’re with me here.
Fried food rocks. It’s delicious, it’s greasy, it’s addictive, it’s totally unhealthy and it’s totally awesome.
And I love the fact that it’s coated in gluten and dairy and then dunked in a vat of partially hydrogenated oil. It’s my idea of the perfectly balanced meal.
Can you sense my sarcasm yet…?
Wait, wait, wait. You know me better than that. While I do like my indulgences, fried food is not one of them. Because fried food is anything but awesome.
Sure, it tastes good and yes, it’s certainly addictive, but who wants to have their food coated in junk and then cooked in more junk, all the while they’re ingesting thousands of extra calories and that junk is going straight to their hips and thighs.
It’s been over four years since I stopped eating gluten and I’ve probably had something fried only a handful of times. And when I do, even if it is “gluten-free”? I feel it immediately. My stomach starts to ache, my energy takes a nose dive and I’m left feeling gross and uncomfortable for the rest of the day.
It’s not pretty. And it's definitely far from awesome.
But what bothers me the most about this fryer obsession, is that so-called “health” foods are often dredged and fried in the same way. Let’s take falafel for example.
The basis of the recipe is chickpeas and herbs. Sounds healthy, no? But then we go and trash it up with some flour to hold the mixture together and deep fry the heck out of it so it’s got that crispy coating, but is soaked in oil.
Or what about tempura vegetables? Why can’t we just be happy eating a piece of carrot? Why is that we have to instead coat it in flour, fry it and have the nerve to still call it vegetables? It drives me crazy!
And then there’s deep frying your Thanksgiving turkey! Sheesh, I just don’t understand that one. Why wouldn’t you want to just slather that baby in organic extra virgin olive oil, give it a nice rub down with some herbs and spices and roast it until it’s juicy and tender?
To each her own I suppose…
Thankfully, for those of us who are focused on putting only the best ingredients into our bodies, there is an alternative.
I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting over the past few years and am excited to say that there are baked options for pretty much all of your favorite fried food. Adore chicken nuggets? Try these! Or if you love fish sticks, how about these? And if you love falafel, then you’re going to love today’s recipe.
The one thing I’m still trying to master is perfectly crispy sweet potato fries – they end up mushy every time! Just going to have to keep trying with that one 🙂
But we’re not talking about sweet potato fries today. Nope, today we’re talking about falafel!
I haven’t always been the biggest falafel fan. It’s only been in the last year or so that I’ve really started to enjoy it, but again, whenever I could find one that was gluten-free it was always fried. So now that I have a recipe that is healthy, vegan, gluten-free and no frying needed, I’m going to become falafel obsessed.
I have a big container in my freezer right now…just waiting to be devoured at lunch. So good!
My baked quinoa falafel recipe is a simple mixture of chickpeas, shallots, garlic, quinoa, herbs, spices and a little tahini. They’re then shaped into balls, chilled to help them keep their shape and then baked for about 40 minutes.
The result? A nutritious falafel that won’t make your tummy hurt, but still has that crunchy outside and soft inside. Basically, they’re pure perfection!
I’ve been enjoying eating these beauties on top of my salads for lunch (and dinner too). I either eat them whole and drizzle them with a tasty turmeric-tahini sauce (recipe below!) OR I’ll crumble them up and they’ll act almost like croutons!
Either way, you can’t go wrong. They’re quick, effortless and totally delicious. Plus, they’re not dunked in oil and won’t go straight to your hips and thighs 🙂
Have you made a recipe from Simply Quinoa? Awesome! Snap a pic and share it on social media with the hashtag #simplyquinoa so everyone else can see too!
Baked Quinoa Falafel with a Creamy Turmeric Sauce
for the falafel:
- 1 15oz can organic chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 large shallot chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 cup parsley stems removed
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 3 tablespoons chickpea flour
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon tahini
- Salt & pepper to taste
for the sauce:
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 - 4 teaspoons water depending on the consistency you like
- 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
- Pinch of salt & pepper
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine the chickpeas, shallots and garlic. Process until roughly chopped and starting to combine.
- Add remaining ingredients and process until mixture forms a dough. If dough seems too sticky, pulse in 1 tablespoon of chickpea flour.
- Shape dough into 2" disks. Place them on a plate and refrigerate for at least 60 minutes.
- Towards the end of chilling, preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Remove falafel from refrigerator and place on baking sheet. Bake on center rack for 30 - 40 minutes, flipping halfway through until falafel is crispy.
- Cool on baking sheet for at least 20 minutes to let falafel crisp up then serve as desired.
- If making the sauce, simply whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl until combined. Use less water if you want a thicker sauce, more water if you want one that is on the thin side.
Looking for more healthy quinoa burger recipes? Try one of these!
Vegetarian Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
Cheezy Broccoli Quinoa Burgers