Being a street food fan means you have had a late-night run-in with a falafel-stuffed pita as the tahini sauce drip down your chin. If you haven’t had the pleasure of munching down on this explicitly Mediterranean food, you have missed out on a lot.
The lowdown on falafel – Middle Eastern gastronomical delight
So, here’s a complete account of information on the traditional Middle East food that is devoured as balls alone or wrapped in a pita as a sandwich.
Ingredients, preparation, and types of servings
Falafel is made up of chickpeas and fava beans, deep-fried into balls or patty-shaped fritter. It’s mixed with spices and herbs and topped with salads, pickled vegetables, hot sauce, and spattered with the famous tahini-based or hummus-based sauces. In some cases, it is also blended with onions and doughs to take the shape of patties. Falafel is popularly eaten alone as balls for a snack. When foodies crave for a fuller meal that’s going to last for two hours easily, it’s served as a part of an appetizer or served in a pita that acts as the pockets for the delicious balls.
Falafel dates back to the Egyptian Copts
As you can guess, the evident profile of falafel consists of peas, beans, and veggies, which is why it’s especially popular amongst vegetarians of the Middle East. Likely to be originated in Egypt, falafel belongs to the Mediterranean food background when Coptic Christians were in the hunt for a nourishing replacement of meat during the long seasons of fasting.
While we will discuss it in detail, later on, falafel’s nutritional profile packs a punch for red meat as it’s loaded with iron, folate, magnesium, and vitamin B through the veggies in it. All ingredients ground to a gritty blend in a food processor is made into balls, and deep-fried.
There is barely any trace of doubt that falafel is packed with healthy ingredients for vegetarians – unlike chicken shawarma, that’s a meaty replica of the same – yet word has it that many people wonder whether it’s truly a healthy dish. In case you’re here looking for the same answers, let’s dive straight into it.
Is falafel a healthy dish?
Let’s begin with the complete nutritional profile of the sauce-dipped balls. According to Healthline, a 100-gram serving of 6 small patties of falafel contain:
1. 333 calories
2. 31.8-gram carbohydrates
3. 13.3-gram proteins
4. 17.8-gram fats
5. 4.9-gram fiber
6. 94% vitamin B6 (one of the most important vitamins!)
7. From 20 to 30% magnesium, folate, copper, and manganese, respectively
8. And above 10% of iron, phosphorous, zinc, etc.
Clearly, falafel has everything going for it. It packs a nutritional punch with other micronutrients we haven’t listed. However, one of the strongest cons of falafel is that it is deep-fried in oil, especially when purchased from restaurants. The frying part can skyrocket its fat and calories value.
According to Robin Danowski, assistant professor of nutrition at La Salle University, no food is good or bad. The ultimate decision depends on how you cook it and how much you eat it.
In answer to the question, “is falafel healthy?” it definitely is if you can change the way you cook and serve it such that it is aligned with your health goals. For instance, if you’re watching your calories and want to limit your fat intake, you can bake or hand sauté them instead of deep-frying. Similarly, when being careful about your carbs intake, you can eliminate the pita part (although that’s a bummer) and have it served with fresh vegetables or salads.
Your health is yours to look after
In essence, the ingredient profile of falafel is in the least unhealthy. In fact, compared to other counterparts of the food, including chicken shawarma, falafel tops the list to contain the healthiest amount of all ingredients that are required by the body.
In case you are quite the street food lover and torn between your cravings and your diet, you can devour falafel on its own without the pita bread, hummus, or tahini sauce. Although you will find it tough to get your hands on bare falafel in any of the Middle Eastern streets, you can very well prepare it at home yourself.
Falafel has every reason to be touted as a healthy dish. It’s a good source of fiber, an amazing source of proteins, and chickpea fiber; it helps manage blood sugar levels by slowing down carbohydrate absorption.
Too much falafel can never be bad for your health, conditional to the fact that you’re not deep-frying it every time. Have a mix of frying, baking, and hand-sautéing to manage the fat and calorie intake. Studies clearly show that people who regularly consume deep-fried-in-oil foods are at a higher risk of heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.
It is worthwhile to know that, at times, deep-frying does not necessarily outweigh the benefits. The reason why it’s insisted that frying should be limited is that if your falafel is made up of poor ingredients and cheap oils – or worst, low-quality oil heated above its smoke point – the nutritional profile of the food goes downhill. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that all the ingredients, from onions, dough, to chickpeas and fava beans, are fresh.
Make your falafel healthy to avoid pit(a)falls
There are several other ways that you make your favorite Mediterranean food healthy at its best. Get high-quality oil – if you must fry them – that can sustain high heat, such as grapeseed or avocado. Search for “healthy” or “home-made” recipes of falafel and give it a go. In case you are too lazy to go through the lengths of preparing “healthy” falafel at home, you have Mooring Eats to supply you with the guaranteed, healthiest falafel that you can trust your life with.
We know how hard it is to find restaurants that ensure the health of the meal is maintained – be it via checking the quality of oil, the amount of heat, or the freshness of the ingredients. Fortunately for all veggie street food lovers like us, this Mediterranean cuisine restaurant specializes in preparing not only the healthiest falafel but shawarma, kebab, salads, and much more for satiating your raw Middle Eastern delights.
Mouth watering yet? Drop-in by the Mooring Eats or prepare your healthy falafel on the go because too much falafel is never a bad thing in life.