Updated: Dec 6, 2020
A classic Mediterranean gluten-free, vegetarian dish is falafel. Falafel is made with chickpeas, a little flour, and a lot of herbs and spices. It's an alternative to using your canned garbanzo beans for hummus.
Chickpeas/garbanzo beans are an incomplete protein, meaning they lack at least one essential amino acid in the right amount to keep your body functioning.
In general, legumes like chickpeas and other beans can be paired with a grain to complete the protein. Whole grain pita is the perfect complement to falafel.
Where falafel lacks in amino acids, it makes up for in fiber. Chickpeas, like most beans, are rich sources of fiber. That being said, it's recommended to go easy on how much falafel you eat at once. If you're not used to a large helping of fiber or these herbs and spices in one sitting, eat only two to three falafel per day to limit cramping, bloating, and gas.
Falafel is traditionally vegan, gluten-free, and free of the Top 8 allergens. However, some restaurants will use a wheat-based flour, rendering it unsafe for anyone who can't tolerate gluten.
This recipe is nice because you can control the type of flour and baking powder you use to ensure it is gluten-free. There are no tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy, milk, or egg products in falafel. It really is a protein source that meets almost everyone's needs.
Falafel is fairly easy to make. It calls for mashing chickpeas with herbs and spices, a little gluten-free flour and baking powder, and some lemon juice.
Falafel is often fried, but this version keeps the fat content down by baking it. (You can do a hybrid by doing a quick-fry in Canola oil and finishing the falafel off in the oven.)
If you're tired of preparing food, you could also buy a falafel mix from most grocery stores including Trader Joe's.
I recommend dipping falafel in homemade tzatziki sauce.
Here's the homemade falafel recipe:
Gluten Free Baked Falafel
Prep Time: 15 mins.
Cook Time: 30 mins.
Total Time: 45 mins.
Yield: 4 servings (about 16 falafel total)
1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1/4 cup gluten free all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp lemon juice
black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375°F and spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.
Place rinsed and drained chickpeas in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher or pulse in a food processor.
Add all other ingredients to chickpeas and mash with potato masher and/or food processor until thoroughly blended and slightly chunky.
Using your clean hands, form falafel mixture into small balls (about 1 tablespoon each).
Place falafel balls on cookie sheet and spray tops with more cooking spray.
Bake for 15 minutes, turn once, and bake for an additional 15 minutes until slightly brown and crispy.
Nutrition per falafel ball:
Calories: 39 Carbohydrates: 6g Protein: 2g Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 204mg Potassium: 54mg Fiber: 1g Added Sugar: 0g