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December 18, 2023/Diet, Food & Fitness/Recipes

Recipe: Falafel With Zesty Yogurt Sauce

A delicious dish alone, atop field greens or in a pita pocket stuffed with veggies!

falafel on plate with spoons of sauce

Falafel is a Middle Eastern specialty consisting of croquettes or balls that are made of spiced ground chickpeas. Traditionally, it’s deep-fried, but you can pan-fry in a small amount of canola oil.

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Serve as an appetizer dipped in the yogurt sauce, atop a fresh greens salad or with a warm pita pocket filled with fresh greens, tomatoes, scallions and cucumbers, topped with the yogurt sauce. Enjoy!

Ingredients

Yogurt sauce ingredients:

  • 1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped and drained of excess water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

Falafel ingredients:

  • Falafel mix
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp canola oil

Directions

  1. For falafel: Follow directions according to the box. Usually, you add falafel mixture to 1 1/4 cups water in a large bowl. Mix thoroughly and let sit 10 to 15 minutes while preparing yogurt sauce.
  2. For yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, mix all ingredients. To further enhance flavor, prepare ahead of time and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Stir before serving.
  3. Once the falafel mixture has had time to set, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add canola oil and let heat.
  4. Once oil has heated, turn down to medium. Scoop approximately 1/8-1/4 cup of falafel mixture into palm of your hand and form a small ball or disk. Continue with the rest of mixture, placing each ball into frying pan. Let falafel cook for approximately 5 minutes before turning over, paying special attention they don’t burn. Falafel should be slightly soft in the center yet golden brown on the outside.
  5. Once they’re cooked, serve as an appetizer dipped in the yogurt sauce, atop a fresh greens salad or with a warm pita pocket filled with vegetables.

Ingredient health benefits

  • Plain, nonfat yogurt: You’ve probably heard some confusing things about yogurt’s nutritional benefits, so here’s the skinny: Plain, nonfat yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium and probiotics for a happy gut. Regularly eating yogurt may also lead to a happy heart by regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
  • Cucumber: You probably know that cucumbers are hydrating (96% water), but did you also know they pack a punch when it comes to nutrient density? Among other great perks, cucumbers are high in potassium and low in sodium, which helps manage your blood pressure. And they’re a source of vitamin K, which builds healthy bones.
  • Garlic: A little allium with a lot of benefits. Like cucumbers, garlic may also regulate blood pressure, but in a different way. Garlic also has germ-fighting compounds that can help protect your food from nasty hitchhikers.
  • Lemon juice: Not only is lemon juice a good flavor additive, but it adds some nutrition to your dish, as well! Lemon juice is rich in vitamin C, which supports your immune system, and has antioxidants that protect your cells from damage-causing free radicals. The acids in lemon juice also help your stomach acids digest food.

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Nutrition information (per serving)

1 serving = 2 falafels

Calories: 170 (16% of calories from fat)
Total fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 840 mg
Carbohydrates: 27 g
Dietary fiber: 8 g
Protein: 15 g

2 tablespoons yogurt sauce contains:

Calories: 20
Total fat: 0 g
Saturated fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 20 mg
Carbohydrate: 4 g
Dietary fiber: 0 g
Protein: 1 g

Recipe provided by Melissa Stevens, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition Program Coordinator, Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitative Services.

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