Falafels are a popular middle eastern side dish, enjoyed by vegans and world food connoisseurs alike. However many people don’t know how to make falafel, nor are they aware of the ingredients that create it.
Today, we want to break this cycle of confusion and explain all of the nutritional value you can expect from these deep-fried patties.
Does Falafel Have Protein?
So first things first, how much protein can you expect from a 3.5-ounce serving of falafel? This is the general serving size given by supermarkets and restaurant servers and roughly translates to 6 small patties.
In a 3.5-ounce serving, you can expect on average 13.3 grams of protein which is roughly 0.47 ounces. For a visual representation, that’s around 3 teaspoons of protein.
In order of largest to smallest, this is the nutritional value of a 3.5-ounce serving of falafel:
- Calories – 333
- Carbohydrates – 1.13 oz or 31.8 grams
- Fat – 0.63 oz or 17.8 grams.
- Protein – 0.47 oz or 13.3 grams
- Fiber – 0.17 oz or 4.8 grams.
As you can tell from this short listing, proteins are found in falafel, but they aren’t the most common point of nutrition. Both fat and carbohydrate beat protein in this race.
Is Falafel Healthy?
So with such a high carbohydrate count and such a high fat count, this snack has to be unhealthy, right? Well, it’s not as simple as that.
Remember that we need both fats and carbohydrates in our diet to have all the fuel needed to remain healthy. Cutting one of these nutritional values out of your diet can dramatically harm your health.
Instead of looking at the numbers, let’s look at the ingredients.
To make falafel you need chickpeas, garlic, onion, parsley, oil, flour, baking powder, and flavorings.
None of these ingredients are bad by themselves. In fact, they all have health benefits you should be aware of.
The Health Benefits Of Chickpeas
Chickpeas are the most prominent ingredient in falafel, and they are also a source of protein and fiber.
Both of these nutrients are proven to reduce the feeling of hunger as production of this hormone is slowed down when the body has received its fill of the correct values.
Chickpeas can do more than curb your hunger though, they also have been proven to improve your bowel health and lower your risk of heart disease.
They improve your bowel health through their high fiber content. This helps you digest food easier, causing less stress to your lower intestine and thereby causing less strain and pressure overall.
The Health Risks Of Deep Fat Frying
Although falafels are made using healthy ingredients, you need to deep-fat fry the patties to create the final product.
Fresh falafel is both crunchy on the outside and smooth on the inside, making a delicious texture contrast for you to enjoy.
However, it is this deep fat frying process that adds on the additional carbohydrates and fats. The amount that already existed in the ingredients, such as the flour and the chickpeas, was a healthy amount.
But this process adds on too much fat.
Studies have shown that people who consistently eat deep-fat fried food are more likely to become obese, develop heart disease and diabetes, and also have a higher risk of cancer.
The unassuming falafel might not seem like a real threat, but it fits into the category the same way a donut does.
You can make falafels healthy if you avoid the traditional cooking method. Instead of deep-fat frying it, roast it in the oven.
Oven Roasted Healthy Falafels
Making falafels in the oven isn’t just a great way to make them healthy, it also saves you a ton of oil and makes the cooking process easier.
The recipe we are about to share with you will create 12 falafel patties.
You will need the following ingredients:
- Black pepper – a pinch
- Salt – a pinch
- Ground coriander – 1 tsp
- Ground cumin – 1 tsp
- Lemon juice – 2 tsp
- Baking powder – 1 tsp
- All-purpose flour – 3 tbsp
- Olive oil – 1 tbsp
- Fresh parsley -2 tbsp
- Onion – ½ cup
- Garlic – 4
- Chickpea – 1 can.
Here is the method you will need to create healthy falafels:
- Grease a baking sheet using the oil.
- Put your oven on 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix all of the ingredients together in a blender. Blend for 1 minute or until smooth.
- Using a spoon, scoop out the mixture and dollop them onto the pre-prepped baking tray.
- Put them in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Flip over every patty
- Bake for another 10 minutes or until crispy all over.
This recipe isn’t just simple, it’s quick and healthy too. You can make these falafel patties as a side to your dish, for an evening of watching sports, or as the starter to a grand meal.
The ingredients listed above are easy to increase but difficult to decrease, so we recommend making 12 as a minimum but double the ingredients if you need more.
What To Pair Your Falafel With
Falafel is normally served with hummus and tahini sauce. This meal configuration is normally called a “Falafel plate” and is very common in Middle Eastern countries such as Israel.
If the server wanted to use falafel as a main, they would include pita bread and a salad with the meal, but if they were using it as a side or starter the hummus and tahini would suffice.
To summarize, yes falafel does contain protein, but it isn’t the largest nutritional value in the snack.
Falafel has more carbohydrates and fat than protein, due to being deep-fat fried. To avoid high levels of carbs and fat, you can oven-cook your falafel instead.
Oven-cooked falafel is healthier than deep-fat fries and allows the protein to take center stage.