The word on the street:
Food trucks, serving everything from Korean tacos to chili-infused cupcakes, seem to be popping up on every street corner these days. These mobile kitchens are bringing street foods back into fashion with more chic indulgences than the hotdog or soft pretzel; some even call it “street cuisine.” But, street foods are not a new phenomenon. They can be traced all the way back to ancient societies in Greece, Rome, and Egypt where vendors catered to people without kitchens in their homes. While today’s street vending trucks still supply convenience, they are also providing an effortless way to eat unhealthful foods that are masked by their creative ingredients, pack on the pounds, and are prepared in a manner that is less than ideal for maintaining a Clean Cuisine lifestyle. In other words, street treats are often not so chic.
The Clean Cuisine mission:
So, we thought it might be fun to hit the streets and clean ‘em up. And…where better to start than FALAFEL?! This delectable treat is not only a popular item today but has been made with healthful ingredients for street-goers since ancient times. Deliciously filling fritters made with fiber-packed and antioxidant-rich legumes, herbs, and spices, Falafel is a treat that is bursting with nutrient density.
So, you might be asking, “what’s to clean up?” Well…even though the ingredients in Falafel pack a healthful punch, it is essential to remember that how we cook is just as important as what we cook. Falafel is typically prepared in deep fryers filled with highly refined, empty-calorie vegetable oils. The nutrients and fiber in this scrumptious treat are removed when we saturate them with oil, even the deceivingly healthful-sounding oils that are labeled organic, all-natural, and gluten free. And, while Clean Cuisine realizes that an oil-free kitchen is likely to be unexciting and bland, nobody should be eating an oil-rich diet. Deep-frying is not the best way to maintain optimal health, disease prevention, weight loss, vitality, longevity, or good taste.
Speaking of Taste:
The key to eating scrumptious food is to maximize taste and nourishment by minimizing the amount of oil when cooking. Oils should be used as a condiment, a flavoring, and a means to cook food. Deep-frying makes oil the basis of your meal. Because beans, herbs, and spices taste much better than unhealthful oils, we’ve come up with a recipe (below) as part of our 30 Eat Clean Dinners that enhances the flavorful ingredients in Falafel without drowning the nutrients in the cooking process. What we found is that Falafel is just as tasty (if not more so) when baking it with just over a tablespoon of nutrient-rich, cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil.
Keeping it “Street”:
With new crazes like the food truck and creative cuisine that twists and infuses ingredients, it’s tough keeping in vogue with “foodie” fashion while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But, it is possible to stay healthy and in style by being “street wise” when it comes to some trends. Street foods may not be the healthiest option when we’re on the run, but luckily (unlike the ancient Egyptians) most of us have kitchens in our homes. Without having to install a deep fryer, our Baked Falafel paired with a crunchy chopped salad is a deliciously simple recipe to serve your family. By baking your Falafel in healthy, toxic-free cookware like Xtrema Cookware (use this link for a coupon) and not stinking up your house with hot fryer oil, it is also a fun and fashionably clean dish to serve while entertaining. Impress your foodie friends by relaying the history of Falafel (some believe that paintings found inside ancient tombs of Egyptian pharaohs show cooks making Falafel), using fava beans instead of garbanzos, or spicing it up with a chili-infused version like those creative cupcake bakers on the street! Clean Cuisine always encourages you to be creative with your ingredients . . . just remember to keep ‘em clean!
30 Eat Clean Dinners: Baked Falafel
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) organic garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup onion, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 tablespoons stoneground corn flour (you may also substitute white whole wheat flour)
- Real Salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly oil the bottom of 10-inch skillet such as Xtrema Cookware
- Place garbanzo beans in a medium sized bowl and smash with a potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Form into 8 medium-sized balls and then flatten with the back of a spatula. Place onto prepared skillet or baking pan. Brush the tops of the chickpea patties with a little bit of olive oil.
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until nicely browned (since it’s baked, only the part actually touching the pan will be browned and crispy). Remove the patties from the oven, flip and brush the other side with a small amount of oil. Bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.
CHOPPED SALAD ASSEMBLY
- Tomatoes, chopped (About 1 per person)
- Cucumbers, seeded and chopped (½
- cucumber per person)
- Scallions, chopped (¼ cup per person)
- Carrots, chopped (2 per person)
- Toss the ingredients together in the large mixing bowl.
- Take out enough salad for one person, add 1 or 2 baked falafel patties and chop well. Place salad in serving bowl and drizzle with tahini dressing. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve at room temperature.
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon cumin (or coriander)
- 1 teaspoon Nama Shoyu or gluten-free soy sauce (or more to taste)
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- Water, optional*
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and use a fork to whisk.
*Note: If you’d like a thinner dressing add a little water, one tablespoon at a time.
Erin Lodeesen is currently finishing a PhD in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, completing yoga teacher training to enhance her 12-year practice, making a documentary film, and, most exciting for us, is an editorial contributor to CleanCuisine.com. Erin represents Clean Cuisine’s modern woman/girl-on-the-go who is juggling many different responsibilities while taking charge of the way she ages, looks, and feels. In addition to her love of travel, yoga, and reading, she loves to entertain her “foodie” friends with cocktail and dinner parties, so she will be keeping Clean Cuisine on the pulse of the newest trends in food culture from around the world and right here in the United States, while staying true to the Clean Cuisine philosophy.