One of my favorite things to eat when I am in a rush & need to grab some type of “fast food” is falafel. It’s quick but not jam packed with all the crap, load it into a pita with all kinds of fresh raw veggies + a killer sauce. Well, that’s about as good as a grab ‘n’ go meal gets.
I have had my share of awesome street fare over the years. Eating wraps filled to the top with all kinds of awesome additions (including french fries.. yes, french fries in the wrap) in Romania, scallion pancakes doused in a number of unknown sauces and chili peppers in China, to veggie dogs on the sidewalk in downtown Toronto. Nothing compares to Middle Eastern street food though, nothing. It’s fresh, it’s hot, it’s often loaded with garlicky sauces – it’s the ultimate for me.
Finding more and more ways to accommodate family style eating these days has been great fun – whether it’s for a dinner party or just here at home. The older I get, and the more work I do on a computer the more I need to be unplugged. Dinner is a great time for that unplugging to happen. Connecting face to face with the people who are close to me and hearing how the day went. Simple conversation, or in-depth style debates; anything as long as it’s with a real person in real time. Abolishing “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and not allowing any techno devices at the table. FOMO, an acronym coined for the fear of not getting the tweet on time, not seeing the Facebook invite first, etc.
My whole point in this is when we mix meal time & being plugged in (which by the way means TV phone computer iPad – whatever) we do not digest our food properly. If we are watching a scary or stress inducing show while watching dinner the brain is focused on being stressed or scared. It shuts down the digestive power, it stays focused on the visual to make sure that we are safe. If we are texting or surfing YouTube it’s the same thing. We need to be present while eating so that our bodies have a proper shot at digestion+nutrient absorption. So that simple bodily functions such as the stomach being satiated registers in the brain, indicating to us that it is time to stop eating. This plays a huge part in weight gain and obesity, think for a moment about mindless snacking. Who hasn’t downed a bag of chips or candy without hardly even noticing?
Unplug while eating. Connect with real people, chances are if they are eating with you – they love you and want to know how your day went.
Okay back to the street food, family style. My household has a strong love for ethnic foods, a strong love for garlic, and a serious need for vibrant veggies. We like to balance things that are cooked with things that are raw. Enzyme action, with a little comforty warmth. It’s all about the balance. This street food inspired meal has just that! Cooked falafel, baked pitas with a flavor packed topping, warmed hummus, and an assortment of raw vegetable accompaniments. The falafel are mildly spicy due to a hot pepper and some warming cinnamon. The hummus is cool and tangy with a nice garlicky kick. Juicy fresh tomatoes and crisp romaine hearts bring it all together. Wonderful.
Don’t be intimidated by the long ingredient list, this meal is ultra simple and comes together in a snap!
2 Cups Cooked French Lentils
2/4 Cup Water
1 Cup Parsley
1 Hot Red Pepper
1/2 Teaspoon True Cinnamon
Dash of Nutmeg
1/2 Cup Quinoa Flakes
4 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
Preheat the oven to 400, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add all ingredients to a food processor except the quinoa flakes and coconut oil. Once the mixture has formed a paste, add the flakes then form into balls. Bake for 20 minutes. Heat the coconut oil in a good sized pan, sear the falafel on all sides to give them a nice crust. Set onto a serving plate.
2 Cups Chickpeas
2-3 Cloves of Garlic
1/3 Cup Sesame Oil
1/3 Cup Water
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Cup Pine Nuts
1 Teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1 Small Red Pepper – diced
Add chickpeas, garlic, sesame oil, water, and lemon to a blender or food processor – reserve lemon. Blitz until smooth and creamy, pour into two serving bowls. In a dry pan, roast the pine nuts and cumin seeds – watching carefully, they can burn in the blink of an eye. Once they are fragrant and browned, add red pepper. Remove from the heat, squeeze any last bit of juice out of the lemon then spoon on top of the hummus.
2 Gluten Free Pitas
1 Yellow Onion
2 Tablespoons Grapeseed Oil
2 Teaspoons Sumac
1 Tablespoon Sesame Seeds
1/4 Preserved Lemon
Preheat the oven to 325. Slice the onion into strips & cook them in a hot pan with grapeseed oil. Once they are soft, mix in the sumac, sesame and one quarter of a preserved lemon – chopped. Spread over the surface of both pitas, then bake for 15 minutes or until crisp & aromatic.
Arrange bowls of hummus, pitas, and falafel on a table. Add fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, pickled vegetables, brown rice, whatever you would like. Enjoy as a flat bread & pile all the toppings onto the pitas, or just get in there with your hands and dip/scoop/slurp the night away!0