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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Mexican Inspired

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I’ve only really started to enjoy Mexican food over the past two years. Cilantro was never my favourite herb, so it just sort of turned me off of the whole cuisine in general. Like most food though, let me have it 5-6 times and eventually it will grow on me. What did always attract me to Mexican food is the versatility and the fresh flavours. There are so many platters that allow you to create the bite that YOU want. Extra guacamole, more chicken, no salsa… no problem. When it comes to Mexican, you become the chef! And thats exactly what I have created here.

With this meal, vegetarians and meat eaters alike can create the plate/bowl that best suits their taste buds. This meal can easily be made with tofu/seitan, steak or fish and be absolutely delicious! Feel free to serve with black bean chips (beanitos… yum) or gluten free brown rice wraps and everyone is bound to find something delicious, healthy and fitting to their cravings. We all know I love a good bowl, so no chips or wraps were needed for me.

Homemade pico de gallo aka salsa fresca aka a fresh salsa really lightens up the heaviness that can come from the avocado and beans. You can also use salsa from a jar if time isn’t on your side, but homemade is always better! The star of the dish for me was the cumin-cilantro corn. It was so sweet and had so much flavour, ill definitely be using this as a side dish for another meal.If your not in the mood for meat, or are vegan, make this dish with tofu or quinoa for added protein. Perfect for Meatless Mondays! You’ll get plenty of healthy fats from the guacamole and fibre from the brown rice and black beans. I hope you enjoy this seriously tasty meal without the guilt or upset tummy. As always this meal is free of gluten, dairy and refined sugars. Go as fresh as possible with your ingredients, and please enjoy a beer*** alongside! Clean living is all about moderation, life is short…so enjoy it!

*** I tried my first gluten-free beer called Glutenberg. It was very decent consideering the lack of barley but it did have a pretty bitter lingering after taste. If anyone has any suggestions for some of the best gluten free beers, please write in the comments! I will be doing a lot of taste testing in the summer and I will do a roundup of some of my favourites.

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Serves 4
Ingredients:

• 3-4 chicken breasts (cleaned and chopped)
• 1 can or fresh black beans (rinsed)
• 2 very ripe avocados
• about 1/4 red onion chopped (3 tbsp)
• 3 tomatoes
• 1 garlic clove (finely chopped)
• brown rice or quinoa (4 servings)
• 4-5 fresh corn on the cob
• 4 tbsp cilantro (chopped)
• 2 tbsp cumin (divided)
• 2 tsp garlic powder (divded)
• 1 jalapeño
• 1 red pepper chopped
• 3-4 limes
• 3 tbsp olive oil (olive oil)
• 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
• salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:

1. Prep and chop all ingredients… it makes it a lot easier for the cooking process! Once everything is prepped the cooking part is easy! Ok… so now that everything is chopped and ready in bowls…

2. For the rice: cook based on the directions of the bag. Season with 1 tbsp olive oil, squeeze of lime salt and a bit of pepper.

3. For the corn: heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Sautee corn until slightly brown then add a nice pinch of salt, 1 tbsp cumin, 2 tbsp cilantro, juice of half a lime. Sautee for 2-3 minutes, turn off heat and add a little more fresh cilanto and more lime juice.

4. For the guacamole: Mash avocados, add juice of one lime, 1 tbsp red onion, 1 tsp garlic powder, salt.

5. For the pico de gallo: mix jalapeño, fresh garlic, red pepper, tomatoes, 2 tbsp red onion, red wine vinegar, juice of 1 lime, 2 tbsp cilantro and pinch of salt and pepper.

6. For the black beans: rinse very well, season with salt and pepper.

7. For the chicken: heat 1-2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Sautee chicken with salt and pepper. About half way through cooking, add 1 tbsp cumin, 1 tbsp garlic powder and some lime juice. Cook through and finish with more lime juice.
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Pan Roasted Dijon Salmon with Herb Oil and Asparagus

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Salmon is loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids to give our brains a dose of happiness and intelligence. It is also a versatile and easy to cook. Salmon is one of my go-to’s when looking for a light yet satisfying meal. Whether you eat it raw, oven roasted or pan-seared it is a great base for any seasoning or sauce your appetite desires. My rule when cooking salmon in a pan is to simply let it be. People flip it and move it around which ends up with an unattractive and overcooked meal. Follow my directions carefully for a perfectly cooked, crispy skinned salmon.

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The herb oil I made with this fish is light, refreshing and super easy to make. Fresh herbs are a great way to add flavour to a meal without adding extra sauce, oil or seasoning. Dill, parsley, basil are my three favourites but you’ll see how I explore other herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano in future posts. Bon appetit!

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Serves 1 or 2

Ingredients:

• Wild caught or organic salmon
• 1 bunch asparagus
• 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
• 1 french shallot
• 2 tbsp avocado oil
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• fresh parsley
• fresh dill
• 1 tbsp stone ground dijon mustard
• sea salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Coat salmon in 1 tbsp of avocado oil, mustard, sea salt and pepper

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (for asparagus)

3. Heat avocado oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add salmon, skin side down. Keep your fingers on top of the salmon filet for a bit to keep it nice and flat. Watch the side of the piece of salmon for color changes. When 2/3 of the salmon has turned opaque, flip it to the other side and cook until it’s done (about 3-4 minutes depending on how pink you like it.)

4. While the salmon is cooking, finely chop up dill and parsley (about 1/4 cup worth) and add to a small bowl.

6. Finely chop one shallot and add it to herbs.

7. Add olive oil, lemon juice and more stone ground dijon mustard if you like to the herbs and shallots and whisk. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper (add more olive oil if it looks too thick).

8. Check back on your salmon!

9. Boil asparagus for five minutes and drain.

10. Plate asparagus and salmon, drizzle with herb oil. Enjoy!