Thursday, February 23, 2006

Falafel

Falafel are a Middle Eastern food; they are fried balls of spiced, ground chickpeas, often served in pita bread. I found this very kid-friendly version in Flax: The Super Food (dah ta dah!). They are baked, not fried, aren't too spicy, and are another clever way to get some ground flaxseed into my son (who suddenly hates all hot cereal with a passion, so there's no more stirring it into his oatmeal each morning...).
So it's five flaxy falafel balls on pita bread with a small container of tahini lemon sauce and cucumbers on the side; a lime soy yogurt (shmoo's favorite) topped with frozen raspberries and blueberries; and one chocolate creme Oreo for dessert.
Verdict:
I had to moosh the pita a bit to close the lunch box, but it fit! Shmoo helped make the tahini sauce this morning just to his liking (toasted tahini, a pinch of salt, a small squeeze of fresh lemon, and water) and dipped his cucumbers in it. Just two cucumber slices and one mysteriously wayward falafel were left. 4 stars.

72 comments:

Anonymous said...

what brand of soy yogurt do you buy? i would like to try lime flavor, but i've never seen it in stores.

Jennifershmoo said...

It's Silk; we love their lime and vanilla flavors. :-)

Elizabeth said...

Your site is fantastic. I wish I had the motivation to cook.

Jane M said...

Did you see this months Veggie Life? It has all sorts of vegan jello type recipes! Had to think of you when I saw it!

I love falafels but hate the grease so these look very yummy to me. Can't wait to try them.

Kay said...

This is great! When I'm a mommy one day, I want to do the same thing for my child. Pack healthful and engaging meals.

EatPeacePlease said...

I love falafel. It's my favorite. I like how you made it kid-friendly, especially since their tastes are so much more sensitive than adults. I love everything about this lunch.

Does he consider the outside of the pita "crust"? Of course there's no greens too! Funny Shmoo.

Also, the cucs and yogurt really make this the ultimate Mediteranean lunch.

Stephanie said...

Falafel without hummus?! *Gasp* (I really like to put garbanzo beans on my garbanzo beans, y'know?)

:) said...

:)

Anonymous said...

i love falafel, pitas, cucumbers, tahini, berries, and all things lime flavored.

perfect lunch!!!


-jessica

Anonymous said...

beautiful! you really do make the best lunches EVER!

glad someone else asked what brand of yogurt it was - i so wondered.

you rock :)

Claire said...

will you make another one of these and send it over to me for my lunch tomorrow?

pretty please?

Catherine said...

I read somewhere once as a suggestion when making falafel to make them mini-pattie style, instead of in balls. I wonder whether this would help with the "mooshing?"

Anonymous said...

Another great lunch! I just wanted to sing the praises of Silk soy yogurt. I love the lime, cherry and blueberry. The cherry has chunks though, so those who like smooth yogurt beware. It makes a great breakfast -- I like to mix my cereal right in for crunch.
Jessica

Anonymous said...

this lunch looks amazing. falafel is my FAVORITE vegan meal! it has been since i was a wee thing and my mum was vegetarian..

Nancy said...

Looks great :-) I'll have to try the lime yogurt. When my youngest made the decision to go vegan finding a good substitute for plain yogurt was so hard. It is her favorite thing and I spent a small fortune trying every brand out there! We've decided that Wildwood plain Soyogurt is about the closest thing - it's not sweetened. It's great for making tzatziki sauce.

michelleknits said...

Gosh, this is a great lunch. And I finally got to see your piece in Satya -- nice work!

Cali Girl said...

This is to anyone out there.. As a new vegetarian I have been wanting to try falafel and this looks SO good!!
A little plain though (I know it's for a kid!) just wondering what you guys would add to make this sandwich a little bit more "grown up". Thanx!

Musicknitter said...

When I spent time in Germany, I loved getting falafels from small vendors for lunch (they mainly sold kabobs; sandwiches carved from a big chunck of meat rotating behind the counter...yuck!)
This was about 5 years ago, but I seem to remember that they all came with lettuce, onion, cucumbers, sometimes tomato and a really good creamy sauce that I don't remember what was in it. They were always overstuffed and nearly impossible to eat while walking.

april said...

You are inspiring! I wish someone would pack me lunches like this! I am trying to remember these ideas for when my kids start school. Great blog.

Andrea said...

AWESOME! I've been looking for a healthier version of falafel forever.

chava said...

lime silk is the best!

EatPeacePlease said...

Cali Girl... look at my page. I have falafel as well as 1/2 falafel, 1/2 bulgar patties. You can also google search falafel recipes, as there are so many variations. My falafels are from Vive le Vegan.

Laura Faye said...

To those of you who are vegans and eat the Stonyfield Farm soy yogurt, this link might be of interest to you: http://www.stonyfield.com/OurProducts/CertifiedKosher.cfm

It seems that some of their cultures are still partially dairy. :-(

Beth Miriam said...

I second the rec for Wildwood Plain yogurt when looking for real 1970's yogurt. It's tangy not sweet and works well in things like Portobello Mushroom Strogenoff (YUM). I usually buy the big container and mix in fruit and a bit of maple syrup for my little shmoo.

Jennifer, please tell me shmoo went through a stage of eating NOTHING. My little guy (22 months) used to eat beans, lentils, asparagus you name it. Now it's all about yogurt, brocolli and baked tofu. He even refuesed whole wheat pasta which is his favorite. Everyone says, keep on offering him a variety but I'm afraid this guy is going to turn into peanut butter on millet bread and mangos!

VLyandra said...

Beth-- Kids tend to have phases where they won't touch anything. It's okay. They'll grow out of it. =) (And considering it's yogurt, broccoli and baked tofu he's eating, rather than, say, tater tots and hot dogs, you're doing fine. ^^)

Cali Girl-- You can eat falafel with whatever you choose. There's a fabulous place in Berkeley that serves theirs with tahini, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, and some sort of spicy sauce. They're amazing. I think you could add whatever you wanted, though.

Jennifer-- Oh my. Your lunches are always so amazing! My mom used to make me really pretty Japanese lunches, but I didn't appreciate them at the time. I miss them so much now! I was too busy being silly and wanting my lunches to look like everyone else's. =( And I'll totally have to try Silk yogurt. I have had... not so great experiences with soy yogurt in the past.

Avery said...

I will have to try the silk yogurt too. Soy yogurt has been pretty difficult to handle but I am sure there has to be a good one out there somewhere!

I adore falafel. I tried to make it a few weeks ago and it melted like a snowball in the desert when I tried to fry it! I was crushed! I might try baking it next time. It's healthier and yours looks fantastic in the picture! I would have never guessed it wasn't golden cooked in hot oil! How long and at what temp did they bake?

Amy said...

I have a couple of questions prompted by this (yummy! don't get me wrong!) lunch; both have been bumping around in my head for a while. One, seems I have read in many places that flaxseed lose their potency quite fast. So I've always wondered what good is baked flax meal? Two, and this has been nagging at me especially since I've had to go off the cow dairy for the sake of my nursing daughter, what say you smart vegans about the whole genistein/phytoestrogen issue with soy? A scientist friend sent me this: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/oc/news/genistein.htm
and it reminded me of some soy phytoestrogen issues I'd read about in the past but filed away in the back of my head. I am asking not because I think Jennifer's lunches are anything less than perfect, but because I imagine research-minded vegans might have opinions on the matter.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer,
I applaud you for your dedication and caring! That you take the time to make lunch for your child is awesome enough. That you take the time to make his lunches vegan and therefore kind to animals and good for his current and future health is AMAZING!
I have been vegan for just over 2 years, and have been subject to much questioning about what I will feed my future children. From now on, I will just point those people to your website!
And speaking of pointing people to your website, I was recently leafleting for an animal rights group and got asked some questions about what to feed a young child who refuses to eat meat, and I gave the woman this web address! I love it!

Tom said...

You make the most wonderful meals, but what does schmoo drink? Seems like Milk and Soda would be out.

Carrie™ said...

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE falafel. It is one of my most favorite things. I work with a lady who is from Iran and she brought some homemade to a work pot luck. Oh, my goodness!! They were yummy. I like your idea of baking them.
I'm in Canada and have never seen Silk yogurt. We have the milk here and the coffee creamer, so I must keep an eye out. Lime anything is good. This is an A+ lunch. Again. Thanks Jennifer for taking the time to do all that you do. We all appreciate it.

TraceyD said...

I too would be interested in hearing what other vegans have to say about the "problems with soy" issue. I have a friend who brought it up and has taken her little boy off soy.

catswym said...

amy--baking doesn't raise the temperature of the flaxseed high enough to destroy the fats, unlike if you were to fry it.

secondly there are a few things to remember about that study you pointed out: it was on mice, not humans; and it used an isolated component found in soy, not soy itself.

that said: no, i wouldn't give soy formula to my infant (i wouldn't give any formula to my infant); and i would try to minimize processed soy intake (where the soy components have been taken apart and are eaten in isolation).

Shaun said...

YOu should write a book! Wow... looks great!!

Shaun
ohpunk.blogspot.com

Beth Miriam said...

Done a lot of reading on the soy controversy. It's seems that it's all about moderation. Americans tend to go so overboard IE if soy is good lets add it to everything!

DS (22 months) drinks one cup of rice milk a day. We are not vegan and when I had to suppliment nursing we used goat's milk. (Before anyone starts in about needing to suppliment is was because I had surgery that renedered many milk ducts blocked.) I cook with rice milk. I use soy for some very specific things like a recipe I have to make condensed milk with soy milk powder. We get our soy in tofu, tempeh and some soy yogurt and the ocassional meat sub. I would not eat it 3 meals a day but several times a week, in my opinion, is just fine.

Beth Miriam said...

TOM, my son (22 months) drinks water, water and water. Maybe juice 3 times a week and one cup of rice milk a day. Every now and then he has some lemonade. Water is so good for you and necessary for our bodies. He likes it especially if he can use a "law"--straw.

Min said...

I feel cheated; can you be my mom? j/k.

Mallory said...

I squish my falafel so that they are somewhere between ball shaped and mini-patty shaped. This helps keep them from falling out of the sandwich when you eat it, and it also gives you the option of using the big, doughy greek pita, which works better as a "wrap" (like a cross between a gyro and a tortilla) than as just sticking things in pita pockets like Americans tend to. I find that stuffing pita pockets gives too much bread and doesn't allow me the toppings (me and my toppings!) I crave.

As for "growing it up" like someone asked, my favorite toppings for pita include lettuce and tomato (required), shaved cucumber (as opposed to slice which I find overpowering), red onion, BEETS (great on falafel and I don't even really like beets!), and sometimes sprouts. Also, an insane amount of tahini is required... I love the stuff.

Certainly not a first date food, but soooo yummy.

the vegan vulcan said...

Looks great, as always!

Jennifer-- I made your vegan fish sticks last night and they were :::awesome::: (lots of reverb). I baked up a batch and ate them as I had planned-- as fish stick burritos! Vegan tartar sauce, spinach, tomatoes, and the fish sticks on whole wheat tortillas.

They were amazing! My fiancee ate them until he almost burst. Then he looked at me, and said "I love being vegan."

Yesss!! Yess!!! Your food rocks!

Adam & Eve Were Vegans said...

Do you also buy only food from organic farms? My brother in law owns one and the food tastes way better.

Fightin' Mad Mary said...

If you packed my lunch - I'd go Vegan! Everything you make looks so tasty, but since I'm a new to your blog - who are all the lunches for? The kid, the hubby? both?

susanornelas said...

Hi Jennifer. I recently found your site completely randomly, and I am completely hooked. After being a veggie (but not vegan) for 10 years, I gave it up when I married a Mexican guy (extremely carnivorous-- he can't conceive of a meal without meat). But now your website has me salivating everyday and longing for my vegetarian days! What a tremendous inspiration you are, and how much I would pay to come make lunches with you everyday! I love love love the site-- I'm your new biggest fan. All the best, Susan.

Anonymous said...

How doe baked falafel compare to the regular deep fried ones? Do they end up crisp also? I've always wanted to try making the healthier version, but afraid they wont taste good. Thanks!

Jennifershmoo said...

Woo! Thank you so much, Vegan Vulcan -- that made my morning!

Hi, Fightin' Mad Mary -- they're for my son, code name Little shmoo. He's 7 1/2 and in the 1st grade. :-)

>>what does schmoo drink?

I almost always pack him water -- school is thirsty work! Sometimes he gets chocolate or vanilla soy, almond, or rice milk, horchata (cinnamon rice milk), or juice.

Hi, adam & eve -- I prefer organic, too. I love shopping at the farmer's markets and growing my own in the summer. Right now it's all from the grocery store.

>>How doe baked falafel compare to the regular deep fried ones?

They were tasty! I sprinkled them with a bit of olive oil before baking. They did get crispy on the outside, but not as crisp as deep fried.

Re. the soy controversy, I agree that it's all about moderation. People in Asia have eaten soy foods for centuries. I think the weirdness occurs when we break soy down into "isolate" (which is what was used in the animal experiments). If you're concerned I would say avoid "protein bars" and processed foods, and stick to traditional soy foods like tempeh, tofu, soymilk, edamame, miso, etc.

Also someone was asking about genetic modification in soy. I wanted to note that most soy you find in health food products is organic -- check the label. Most GM soy is grown to feed to animals in feedlots and factory farms, so if you want to avoid it I would recommend -- you guessed it -- going vegan! :-)

Anonymous said...

carrie, i live in canada as well, and i have only seen silk soy milk and creamer, not yogurt.

i'm in vancouver, and we have a wholefoods here, so maybe they carry it. i'll have to check (i was the one who asked the brand question at the top of the comments).

Anonymous said...

Jennifer--Saturday I watched a cooking show on public tv with my six-year old son. The recipe was for falafel. He begged me to make some. He did NOT want to hear my complaint that I don't want to fix fried food. Thank you so much for this idea. I've got Flax The Super Food on order now!

Anne said...

I've looked throughout this site and can't find the "fish" sticks recipe. Can someone post the link? I'd love to try them. Also, great site Jennifer! You're one of my daily Internet reads at lunch everyday! Thanks for the ideas.
Anne

Jennifershmoo said...

Hi, Anne -- It's over on my recipe blog:

http://shmooedfood.blogspot.com/2006/01/tofu-fish-sticks.html

Hope you like them! :-)

Anonymous said...

Are Oreo's vegan?!

Jennifershmoo said...

It depends on where you live, so check the ingredients. Oreos in some areas are still made with whey and hydrogenated oil, in other areas they are vegan and trans-fat free.

i *heart* paper said...

Your blog is an inspiration!! Thank you for these wonderful vegan lunch ideas.

Kourtney said...

That lunch looks great! I just made falafel (the deep-fried kind, but they were vegan) for the first time on the weekend. Unfortunately they all got eaten so none made it into my lunch :( Next time, I'm doubling the recipe.

Ula said...

I wish I had a mom like you. I had to fight mine to let me become a vegetarian. I have been one for over 10 years now and my family finally has started eating more healthfully. I admire you for raising your son eating so much better. I know it's a lot of work, but definately worth it.

Lauren said...

When I first went vegan I was sad to give up dairy yogurt, which was one of my favorite foods. I tried several soy yogurts and found that Silk was the only one I liked (lime is my favorite, too!). I get it at Whole Foods.

catherine said...

I haven't been here in a while, but every time I come, I am entertained and impressed. My son is only 22 months but I make his lunch every day and you inspire me! thanks.

Nicole said...

Shmoo, do you think that this would work for pakoras as well? I'm making them for dinner, and it just occurred to me that I might not need to drown them in oil -- what do you think? And, if you think it might work, could you pass along explicit cooking instructions for me?

Ta,

Nicole :)

Jennifershmoo said...

Mmm, pakoras! Can I come over for dinner? I've never tried baking them, but I Googled and found this mention of baked pakoras:

http://www.ragistan.com/nukkar/khana/recipe.htm#Pakoras

Good luck, Nicole!

Nicole said...

Awesome!

Thanks a bunch :)

Anonymous said...

try crumbling falaffel on any salad for extra crunch.

R2K said...

MM looks great :)

Falaffel is really nice, can be heavy with oil though.

R2K

Anonymous said...

most pita is made with yoghurt, and i've never found a vegan brand. what brand do you use?

rubalo said...

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kaylar said...

I have a fabulous recipe for vege patties, very inexpensive and delish!

Use the chickpeas, crush them like for the falafel. Take instant oatmeal, soak it in soya sauce, and blend the two together.

Now I'm fancy so I'm going to add cut up
mushrooms and chopped black olives (which doubles the cost)but you don't have to.

To flavour it, I use jerk seasoning, which is a Jamaican product; cut up onions, garlic, pimento, pepper, (it's hot) a big spoon of chutney, (for the glooky consistency) use olive oil to bind, and whatever else you like...barbeque sauce, etc.

It should be a a very thick consistency, drop it into bread crumbs, (don't worry about the shape)

Into the micro for like a minute or so, then you can shape them like patties.

Back in for another minute, flip, another minute, (all at medium High)
then take out and freeze.

When you're ready for them, a minute at medium high, then add vege chesse and tomato, on the bun, (along with whatever else you like) and in for a minute.

Delish!

And very inexpensive.

Satya said...

Very nice. I had wanted a baked falafel recipe but never got around to searching for one. Love your website.

Robbie said...

Your dishes seems so inviting...mmmh

Green Apple Communications said...

I love falafels! Two thumbs up! :-)

Lisa Marie Coppoletta said...

Falafel Rules and so does your blog Vegan Lunch Box! peace out!

lilagal said...

i think thats real cool. That's actually what it is! A vegan lunch box

Izze said...

Very cool! My family's vegetarian. We tried to go vegan once, but... yeah. We cojuldn't survive a week without cheese.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand the oreo cookie with such healthy food! Come on, you can have better ideas!

Megan said...

It's called a treat. Kids deserve a sweet treat every now and then. If you deny all sweets you'll end up with a kid who rebels against all the healthy stuff.

red said...

veganlunchbox.blogspot.com

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