Baked Falafel Bowl

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Falafel is a go-to vegetarian comfort food across the Middle East. While traveling in Israel I had many falafels, which are traditionally served in a pita with pickled vegetables, hummus, or a tahini based-sauce. The name is often confused or interchanged with equally delicious shawarma which is various meats cooked on a spit. Falafel is traditionally made with chickpeas, flour and spices then deep fried for an amazingly crunchy snack or meal. I eventually had to stop eating the falafel because of how sick I felt which was most likely from the combination of deep-frying and gluten.

I am so excited about this recipe! Finally, I have found a way however to enjoy falafel stomachache-free and with no bloating. Keep in mind however; chickpeas do contain sugars that humans cannot digest so if eaten in mass quantities some digestive upsets can occur. These falafels are gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian. I personally love eating out of bowls, mugs, cups etc… It is weird but I always preferred a platter to a sandwich. I like making my own little combinations on my fork or mini sandwiches with gluten free pita on the side. I placed mine in a bowl with grated carrot, Israeli salad, brown rice, pumpkin seeds and my homemade hummus! Feel free to wrap yours in a whole grain pita, top on quinoa or place on top of salad (which I had for lunch the next day, yummy!)

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Serves 2-3

Falafel Ingredients:

•One 15-oz. can chickpeas, well drained or 2 cups fresh (see my homemade hummus recipe for directions)
•1 french shallot or 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
•2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
•1/4 cup almond flour (you could also use chickpea flour)
•3 tbsp roughly chopped fresh parsley
•1 1/2 tbsp (about 3 cloves) chopped garlic
•1/2 tbsp ground coriander
•1/2 tbsp ground cumin
•3/4 tsp salt
•1/2 tsp baking powder
•1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
•1/8 tsp paprika, or more to taste
• a few dashes hot sauce
• salt and pepper, to taste

Bowl Ingredients:

• 3 carrots grated (I used a box grater)
• 4 radish thinly sliced (optional)
• 1 1/2 cups short grain brown or wild rice
• 2 tomatoes diced
• 1/2 cup diced cucumber
• 1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
• a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice
• 2 tbsp roasted pumpkin seeds or toasted sesame seeds
• 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
homemade hummus (store bought is fine too!)
• fresh lemon wedges for serving
• salt and pepper to taste

Makes about 18 Falafel (Serves 3-4 people)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Combine all falafel ingredients except 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 10 seconds. Stop motor and scrape down sides of bowl, then pulse for another 10 seconds, until all ingredients are well incorporated but mixture is still slightly coarse and grainy.
3. Using a tablespoon, scoop mixture out and form into balls. Brush with remaining tablespoon olive oil.
4. Bake on a cookie sheet for about 40-45 minutes, making sure to flip half way through until brown and crisp.
5. While the falafel is cooking, prepare the rice (follow directions on bag) and grate carrots.
6. For the israeli salad: Mix in a small bowl cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, red wine vinegar and lemon juice, salt and pepper.
7. Toast pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds in the oven at 350 F for 10 minutes or in on medium heat in a dry pan until the oil is released.
8. Arrange falafel, rice, carrots, israeli salad, hummus and seeds. Top with tahini or extra hot sauce! YUM!

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Buckwheat Mushroom Risotto with Squash and Toasted Hazelnuts

Photo 2014-11-20, 6 17 49 PM
I’ve gotten a lot of requests for some recipes that are both comforting and healthy at the same time. Without added cream, butter or gluten for that matter, it can feel like a daunting task to make a dish comforting. But, as we now know, my goal is for no one to have to miss out on anything because of food allergies or dietary choices. So keep checking in for lots of delicious, warm your soul kind of meals/desserts to keep you toasty right through winter.

Risotto in particular is a meal you associate with butter and/or cream. It is so delicious but can be entirely too rich and heavy for me. The risotto I have created is equally as satisfying without the heaviness and stomachache you would get from the restaurant variety. That being said, this makes a great side for any protein source be it meat, beans or tofu. How about turkey? The combination of earthy mushrooms and sweet butternut squash with crunchy hazelnuts just screams holiday! Don’t you think? This can be a perfect stuffing substitute for your gluten/dairy – free guests!

Besides for its delicious flavour, this meal packs a big nutritional punch. I used a combination of porcini, oyster and portobello mushrooms which deliver cancer fighting properties and can lower cholesterol. Many people don’t know that Buckwheat isn’t actually a grain but comes from a plant (despite its grainy appearance). It ranks low on the glycemic scale which keeps your blood sugars levelled – which helps prevent weight gain and obesity. Most importantly, this recipe is DELICIOUS and gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Happy holidays and bon appetit!
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Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (divided)
• 1 butternut squash (cubed)
• 2 french shallots (finely chopped)
• 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
• 3 tbsp toasted hazelnuts (chopped)
• 2 cups mushrooms chopped (I used a mix of oyster and portobello… choose your favourite!)
• 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
• 1 cup buckwheat groats
• 1 cup boiling water
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 1/2 tsp dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme
• 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
• salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350. On a large baking sheet, coat chopped butternut squash in 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 45-60 min. Allow to cool.
2. In a bowl, place dried porcini mushrooms with boiling water and allow to reconstitute for 10 minutes.Place vegetable broth in a stock pot over medium heat and have a ladle on hand.
3. In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil on medium heat. Add your shallots and cook until translucent and soft. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes or until mushrooms have reduced down. Add 1/2 tsp salt.
4. Add 1 cup of buckwheat into skillet along with oregano and thyme. Sautée for 2 minutes and then add 1 ladle broth. Stir until buckwheat absorbs all the liquid, then add another ladle of broth. Continue to do this until all the broth is absorbed, then add 1/2 of the porcini liquid and stir until absorbed. Add remaining porcini liquid. Chop the reconstituted porcini mushrooms and add to buckwheat mixture. Add apple cider vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
5. Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan for about 5 minutes or until oils are released.
6. Carefully toss cooked butternut squash into the buckwheat mixture. Top with fresh chopped parsley and toasted hazelnuts.

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Sweet Potato Chilli

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I don’t know whether this constitutes as chilli or a stew but either way it is one of the easiest, cheapest and most satisfying meals to eat when the cold weather comes around. I have been making this dish for about four years now and can basically do it with my eyes closed. It is such a staple in my household, it practically blends in with the fridge.  What is so great about any chilli or stew is that you can add just about anything and it will still taste pretty great so long as the spice is there. If you have vegetables or meat that are reaching their expiration date, you can throw them into the pot and extend their life for at least another week or two. Whats best is that this dish actually tastes better with age. Just like a homemade sauce, the flavours are more enhanced a day or two later and it can be enjoyed throughout the week.

I do not add meat to this chilli because it is already packed with enough protein from all of the beans, which makes it a great option for #meatlessmondays or for those trying to reduce their animal protein intake. And to be honest, you don’t really miss it. I normally make Zach a huge container to take to work to eat throughout the week. This kid loves his steak more than the average, and this chilli is one of his favourites!

Beans are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Eating beans may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, colorectal cancer, and can even help with weight management. Because they are rich in protein and carbohydrates you will be left feeling full and satisfied without any added fat. The sweet potato will give you lots of vitamin E and potassium. I even add a little turmeric to mine for added anti inflammatory benefits. Feel free to interchange the sweet potato with butternut squash (equally as delicious). Serve with a fresh salad for a complete meal or over some brown rice after a good cardio workout. My mom loves it over brown rice noodles or stuffed in a baked potato! Dee-lish. Bon appétit!
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Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic (about 3 cloves)
• 1 yellow onion finely chopped
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp pepper
• 1 tsp turmeric
• 1 tsp chilli powder (you can add more if you like your chilli smokier)
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1 tbsp ground cumin
• about 1 lb chopped carrots (8-10 carrots, make sure they are bite sized!)
• 2 sweet potatoes chopped (can interchange with squash)
• 2 large cans of whole tomatoes (I buy San Marzano)
• 2 cups of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
• 1 cup cooked red kidney beans
• 1 cup cooked canellini beans
• 1 heaped tbsp of tomato paste
• 1 tbsp hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot) *optional
• 2-3 drops stevia (optional)
• bunch of fresh cilantro (for garnish)

Directions:

1. In a huge stock pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Sautée onion until translucent about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and spices. Sautée for another minute.
2. Add carrots and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. If you find they are sticking to the pot, add more olive oil.
3. Add tomatoes and pierce using a wooden spoon. If you like tomato chunks, don’t break them down too much! Add tomato paste and hot sauce and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer uncovered and cook until you can pierce the potato and carrots easily with a fork (about 20-30 minutes).
4. Add your beans and allow to cook for another 10 minutes until the water from the tomatoes is mostly cooked down. If you are using canned beans, make sure to rinse them really well! Make sure to taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. If you like a sweet and spicy chilli, add a little bit of stevia!
5. Serve with fresh cilantro as a garnish!
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