"The wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings. Let food be your medicine."
- Hippocrates

June 23, 2011

Falafel Sandwich

Back in university, before I decided to go vegetarian, every Saturday morning we'd all head over to the farmer's market in Fredericton and nosh on local yummies like sausages and chicken wraps. After going veg, I had to find a replacement for these sacred rituals...enter, Falafels. Yes, I know, if you've never heard of them before the name could sound scary or intimidating, but don't fear...they are simply ground chickpeas with some mild seasonings, formed into balls and fried or baked. It's a common dish in the Middle East and is usually eaten wrapped in a pita with various dressings.

I've only recently tried to make these at home, but am now kicking myself for not trying sooner! They are ridiculously easy to make, and are perfect for lunches. You can even eat them on the go with one hand if they're pre-wrapped...now that's awesome!

Falafel sandwiches are traditionally topped with lettuce, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and drizzled with tahini-based sauces. I decided to top mine with romaine lettuce, hummus (click here for recipe), red onion, and sliced tomatoes...but feel free to mess around with your toppings. I haven't tried the sauce listed below, but I'm sure it's yummy! Let me know if you try it!

1 can (19oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped OR 1 tbsp dry parsley
2 tbsp tahini
1-1/2 to 2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat)

For falafel sauce:
1 container (6-oz) plain nondairy yogurt
1-2 tbsp tahini (I used 1-1/2)
1/2 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp dried dill

Optional ingredients:
hamburger buns or rolls, pita bread, tomato slices, lettuce

To prepare the sauce, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and chill for 30 minutes.

For the falafels, preheat the oven to 400.

Pulse the chickpeas, garlic and onions in the food processor until thick and pasty, but still a little chunky; transfer to a medium-sized bowl. Stir in parsley, tahini, cumin, corriander, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and baking powder. Slowly add the bread crumbs, until the mixture holds together well (I only needed 1/2 cup, but it will depend on the moisture of your other ingredients).

Shape into patties or balls (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup each) and place on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on the bottom. Flip over and bake for another 10-12 minutes.

Serve alone with sauce on the side, on a bun, or in a pita wrap.

If serving in a wrap, put the lettuce down first to shield the bread from getting soggy, then spread hummus or falafel sauce, followed by thinly sliced red onion, tomato and 2-3 falafels slightly crushed (depending on the size or your pita). Roll the pita tightly and wrap it all in plastic or aluminum foil. We use this method when preparing lunches in the evening and the sandwiches still taste perfectly fresh the next day!

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm sure they'd even be good crushed up on a salad!


This recipe is from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table

June 6, 2011

Steel Cut Oatmeal, Two Ways

There's nothing like a warm bowl of oatmeal to greet you in the morning! Growing up, I loved the little bags of instant oatmeal that came pre-flavoured with maple and brown sugar. I'd go through phases where I liked my oatmeal thick and lumpy, almost dry; and others where I'd eat it almost like soup, sloppy and full of milk. Those bags of instant oatmeal are at one end of the "oatmeal spectrum" while at the other end, you'll find steel cut oats. Steel cut oats go through very little processing compared to the quick oats you find in the instant oatmeal packages. When cooked, they are naturally creamy and chewy, an absolutely scrumptious way to start your day! They really fill you up and keep you going until lunch too!

The only downside I've found to cooking steel cut oats is the cooking time...they take about 30 minutes to cook on the stove-top; and cooking in the microwave can be tricky as they tend to boil over and make a big mess. I've found two no-fuss ways to enjoy this grain that I know you'll love; one is super fast, the other, super slow...both are very easy and low maintenance though!

I like to top my oatmeal with some non-dairy milk, crushed walnuts and real maple syrup...also try fresh or frozen berries, any nuts, raisins, coconut, brown sugar, etc...

Super Slow Steel Cut Oats (in the slow cooker)
Serves 4
Cooking your oats in a slow cooker overnight is a great way to enjoy warm and creamy oatmeal first thing in the morning! Just turn on the cooker right before bedtime, and in the morning you'll have the sweet smell of cinnamon calling you from the kitchen; just scoop, add toppings, and enjoy! So easy!

1 cup steel cut oats
4 cups water
1/4 cup non-dairy milk, or more water
pinch salt
pinch cinnamon or nutmeg (or both)

Spray slow cooker with non-stick spray. Add all ingredients and turn slow cooker on low before bed...at breakfast, enjoy!

Super Quick Steel Cut Oats
Serves 1
These oats are blended to a flour-like consistency, so they cook really quickly (about 5 minutes)! The result is a smooth, almost cream-of-wheat type consistency. I like to blend a few cups worth and store the flour in an airtight container for a quick breakfast in the morning! Note: the recipe below is for one serving, just remember it's a 1/4 cup oat flour to 1 cup water, so you can make as many servings as you like!

1/4 cup pre-blended steel cut oats
1 cup water
2 tbsp - 1/4 cup non-dairy milk, or more water
pinch salt
pinch cinnamon or nutmeg (or both

In a blender, blend a few cups of steel cut oats until they reach a grainy flour-like consistency. Store extra flour in an airtight container.

In a saucepan, combine 1/4 cup oats, 1 cup water, salt, and cinnamon over medium heat. Whisk almost continuously, while mixture starts to come to a low boil. Reduce heat to medium-low as it is thickening and starting to bubble. Once thickened, whisk in a couple tablespoons to 1/4 cup non-dairy milk - until it reaches your desired consistency.

Serve oatmeal immediately, topping with another drizzle of non-dairy milk (as oatmeal will thicken more as it sits).

As a final note, here are some of the many health benefits to adding oatmeal to your diet:

Soluble Fiber: One of the best benefits of oatmeal is that it lowers cholesterol by removing LDL (bad cholesterol) while maintaining HDL (good cholesterol)

Insoluble fiber: Absorbs water which helps to speed the transit of food through the bowels; helping reduce the risk of some bowel related cancers (i.e. colon cancer)

Beta Glucan: A bio-defense modifier which means it will boost your immune system

Vitamins and Minerals: Including Iron, Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamin E

Phytochemicals: Plant chemicals that have shown promise in fighting and preventing cancer. For example, the phytoestrogens (lignans) found in oats help to fight hormone related diseases like breast, ovarian, and prostate cancer.

Happy breakfast!