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Pistachio, Pumpkin Seed + Herb Falafel (Gluten Free + Vegan)

Pistachio, Pumpkin Seed + Herb FalafelFor me falafel is a full on, fill me up, give it to me now crave food. It’s pure comfort food. When I want something filling, fresh, warming and healthy yet satisfying this is it. The thing is I rarely make falafel and it’s not like it’s easy to get in fast food joints around here either. Oh, what I would do to have a little local cafe nearby that baked me falafel when I needed it most, now that would be good. Until my make believe plant based Arab inspired fast food joint opens I’ll be making this myself and more often.

I am in love with North African flavours so naturally falafel is pretty high up there on the favourites list, I definitely ate my fair share (ok, more than is fair!) in Egypt. Were they better? Ummmm, not necesserily! The trouble is most falafel is deep fried as that’s in fact the traditional way of preparing it but it’s way toooo oily for me and so unnecessary as IMO they taste so much better baked. These pistachio, pumpkin seed + herb falafel are fragrant, lightly spiced, fresh, crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside and devastatingly good, in taste and for health! Yes, every recipe on this blog is healthy………

This here is falafel, just how it should be.Green falafel + yoghurt mint dressing

Baked not fried.Green falafel + yoghurt mint dressing

Russ was on ball making duty as it’s not my forte and his balls are so uniform, round and smooth (humour me). And green, nice and green thanks to the mint, coriander, pistachio and pumpkin seeds. Not only does this add a nice touch visually it really ramps up the nutritional density too. This pistachio, pumpkin seed + herb falafel is high in protein, contains only heart healthy fats, low in sodium and the herbs provide immense anti-inflammatory and ant-bacterial benefits. You just gotta love fresh green herbs. Russ making falafel

These little blighters are super easy to put together and can be whipped up in 15 minutes flat,  get somebody else to roll your balls and it’ll be quicker than that! I’ll send Russ round?Easy recipe....

Extra tasty served in fresh crisp lettuce leaves, the best way. Gone are the days when I felt self conscious eating from a lettuce or cabbage leaf, where others would sometimes make comments in confused wonder or assume I was just a weird eater. I’m not sure why either as it’s one of the most delicious ways to eat food minus the heavy carb and gluten load, just ask the Koreans. Since living in Korea for a year I soon learnt to love the leaf wrapping as they wrap everything in a fresh lettuce leaf, a crunchy wad of cabbage or a crisp sheet of seaweed. Oh I do miss that place and it’s food, but not the soups so much, particularly the ones where they sneak tiny bits of pork into it and tell you it’s vegetarian! Back to the leaf, Korean supermarkets have entire refrigerators dedicated to housing the most pristine, organised and colour coordinated lettuce leaves you have ever seen. Our local store even had a designated lettuce leaf handler (nice guy too), in charge of bagging, weighing and most importantly keeping the green, purple and red (yes, they put a lot of love and affection into their lettuce!) display looking beautiful. Tangent….yes falafel…..eating out of a lettuce leaf = good.

Falafel, lettuce wraps + salad

So, although I’m no longer leaf wrapping on a daily basis I always take up any opportunity to use fresh plant- powered wraps, especially if there’s falafel involved. I do wonder if I’ll ever be able to eat from a leaf again without thinking about Korea!! Good times.A whole lotta lettuce wrap

Falafel is a classic veggie staple and is delicious served with a big salad and if lettuce leaf wraps aren’t for you a wholewheat pitta would be amaze-balls (get it?) too. I like both, falafel wrapped in lettuce and stuffed in a pitta, finished off with generous dollops of minty dressing. Oh dear, now that is delicious.Falafel in hand

Pistachio, pumpkin seed + herb falafel

(10 balls)

1 can drained chickpeas (240 grams)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
small handful fresh mint
small handful fresh coriander
1/4 cup pistachios, shelled
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 teaspoon cumin
salt & pepper

mint dressing:
small handful mint, finely chopped
2 tablespoons yoghurt + 1 of water

Method:

1. Rinse + drain chickpeas, set aside. Place garlic, onion + green herbs into a food processor or blender + pulse until roughly chopped. Add the nuts + seeds + pulse to a rough texture. Add the chickpeas, cumin + salt/pepper + blend until fully combined so that it retains a rough like texture. You may need to redistribute the mixture with a spoon in between blending.
2. Form 10-12 balls from the mixture + place on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Bake falafel in the oven for 20 minutes until firm + crispy on the outside. Combine the mint dressing ingredients in a small bowl or cup + set aside.
3. Serve in lettuce with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds + a drizzle of mint yoghurt dressing.

Goodness Green Spinach, Kiwi + Spirulina Smoothie

Putting the green into a green smoothie!I cannot tell you how happy I am to be drinking green smoothies. Why oh why has it taken so long for me to start this habit? I am loving my Vitamix too, who knew such a simple thing could do so many amazing things. Anyway, this is the first (of many!) green smoothies I’ll be making in this little darling. I’m not sure if you’ve ever seen the Thomas Crown Affair remake (the one with Pierce Brosnan), I think I was about 18 when I watched it. Anyway, there’s a scene with Renee Russo drinking one of these green smoothies and I remember wondering what the hell it was! Randomness, I know but I felt the urge to share that. It also goes to show how the US are space ages ahead when it comes to certain super foods and health crazes. Green juicing has become pretty mainstream now but I have to say the office were still a little taken back by my large glass jar crammed full of green stuff! It’s literally everywhere though, I watched ‘Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead’ the other night and was amazed by how juicing can actually transform lives. Of course these people were extreme cases and personally I couldn’t juice for extended periods of time but it really opened my eyes to the health benefits of a time limited juice diet.Smoothie making

This particular smoothie contains spirulina which of course is entirely optional but gee whizz it gives a superb health boost and really puts the GREEN into a green smoothie. This amazing post on Mind Body Green is all the evidence I need to put a teaspoon into my greens. I buy this green algae from Holland & Barrett but there are good bargains to be had on Ebay too.DSC_6594

I’m the first to admit it isn’t exactly pretty but the taste is utterly delicious! The kiwi, banana and almond milk balance out the spinach and spirulina flavours perfectly, resulting in a silky, smooth, supercharged health tonic that has you feeling on top of the world! Of course, if the spirulina makes this green smoothie just a little too green for your taste, just leave it out.Spirulina smoothie

It’s near impossible to list the vitamin and mineral boost this drink provides but let’s just say there’s hefty amounts of vitamin A, B1, B2, C, E, K, magnesium, potassium, calcium and tryptophan. It’s high in fibre and protein and the perfect health tonic for a pick me up late afternoon or as part of a power breakfast.Smoothie all gone!

Spinach, kiwi + spirulina smoothie

(serves 1)

2 handfuls fresh spinach
1 kiwi, skin removed
1/2 frozen banana
1 teaspoon spirulina (optional)
1 cup almond milk

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz on high for 45 seconds or until smooth. Enjoy the goodness.