Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard all the hype around the Mediterranean diet. A lot of people turn to this diet to get more heart-healthy, a pretty good move on their part.
It includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, heart-healthy olive oil, red wine (hello antioxidants!), whole grains, etc. It limits unhealthy fats and reduces the risk of heart disease. And we can’t forget about the Greek yogurt craze (if you haven’t seen one of the hundred commercials that are on daily for Fage, Oikos, Chobani, etc. you might live in a hole). Those Greeks now how to do it right.
One of my favorite dishes that is common in many Mediterranean restaurants is falafel. However, this meal doesn’t quite make the list of “healthy” foods since it’s generally deep-fried. It’s more like a middle-eastern fast food.
I personally don’t think the frying part is absolutely necessary. While it adds a nice crisp to the outside, this oven-baked version of the little patties are bursting with flavors thanks to the numerous spices and fresh herbs that are ground right in.
Baking them in the oven has cuts down on the calories but still gives them a nice golden brown outside. Top with some homemade tzatziki and roll up in a whole wheat pita or tortilla and you’ve got a nice refreshing meal that you don’t have to feel guilty about.
Oven-Baked Falafel & Homemade Tzatziki
- 1 15oz can of Chickpeas, drained
- 2 TBSP Whole Wheat Flour (or sub another flour)
- 2 TBSP fresh Parsley
- 2 cloves of Garlic
- 1 tsp ground Cumin
- 1 tsp ground Coriander
- ½ tsp Chili Powder
- Salt & Pepper (about ¼ tsp each or more to your liking)
Tzatziki Ingredients (pronounced za-ZEE-kee)
- 1 6oz container of plain Greek Yogurt (I use Fage 0%)
- ½ of a Cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced (or shredded if you have a fancy machine that will do that for you)
- 4 cloves of Garlic, minced
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 1 tsp dried Dill
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until well blended. Scoop the mixture out and form 8 equal patties with your hands. Place them onto a prepared baking sheet (I cover mine in foil and spray it with cooking spray). Brush the patties with olive oil and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.
While the falafels are baking, prepare your tzatziki sauce by combining all ingredients and mixing well (you can grind everything up in a food processor if you’re feeling a little lazy).