Looking to lose weight? Try our FREE Calorie Counter »  |  Log In
Articles Fitness Nutrition

3 Reasons Why Falafel is a Good Vegetarian Alternative

Oct 15, 2010

Falafel, which some call Heavenly Chickpeas, is known the world over as simply delicious. You cannot easily find another dish that so nicely sparks up those vegetarian blahs when you grow tired of the same salad, bean, tofu and yogurt meals. Falafel delivers pizazz, in color, texture, and taste. Here are three good reasons why falafel is a good vegetarian alternative. 

1. Nutrition Bonus

Falafel is simply chickpeas that have been soaked, mashed and combined with other ingredients such as bread crumbs, onions, spices, and egg, shaped into small balls and fried in cooking oil. They are often served as part of a grand salad or in pita bread as a sandwich or shaped into patties as a hamburger substitute.

Eating falafel means you are consuming a vegetable that is known to be low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. Further, you are eating a vegetable that is known to be a great source of fiber, protein, copper, folate and other nutrients.

2. Meatless Meat

Falafel is the star solution for choosing a meatless meat variation that goes beyond the usual soy-based packages of meatless patties and sausages. Because of its texture after frying, falafel has the dense heartiness of a meatball yet with a bonanza of extra nutrients.

In fact, restaurants are serving up falafel burgers and getting enthusiastic reviews. The ground chickpeas are shaped into patties and served with yogurt, spices, cucumber and lettuce on seeded buns.

 3. Calorie-Smart Options

One small ball is 50-60 calories. A meal-sized falafel sandwich with trimmings on a bun is about 350-450 calories (still less than a Big Mac). A falafel pita complete with creamy dressing is about 550 calories. The great news if you must watch your calories is that falafel is a versatile dish when making it at home. You can prepare falafel with a cooking oil or you can use a spray oil and still come up with a delicious meatless meal staple.

Some falafel cooks urge you to bake falafel if you are on a diet, but other falafel fans say that baking does not deliver the taste and crunch of fried falafel. Frying is not a real problem because there are ways you can fry falafel without risking an overload of calories. 

There are successful low-cal methods for making falafel. You will not have to look hard to find dozens of recipes in more detail. You will have fun choosing the ones that not only look great but have ingrendients that fit your calorie plan.

Here are some healthful ways to prepare falafel.

  • Place balls of falafel in a pan. Use oils that are low in saturated fats and trans fats. Safflower oil, sunflower oil and canola oil are good choices. Fry quickly so that not much oil is absorbed.
  • Using a nonstick skillet, apply cooking spray instead of oil. Cook some falafel patties until each side is browned. Then place them in an oven at low heat to keep them warm.
  • Instead of frying, bake them. Just lightly brush falafel balls with olive oil. Then place them on a cookie sheet.

 

 

 

Article Comments