Healthy Mexican-inspired Falafel Sandwich

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Here’s why I love Instagram, you follow people for months, years or even a day or two and one day all the stars line up perfectly so that you meet and it’s like you’re old friends catching up over a cup of coffee. Or at least that’s how it was when a couple of months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting one half of the dynamic duo that is SweetPillar.

They were in Dubai for a few days, and Deana reached out. We met up for what was supposed to be a morning cup of coffee at Mirzam the chocolate factory, and it ended up turning into a coffee, chocolate, lunch, dessert, coffee, beach, and art gallery roaming day. It was like meeting up with cousins that I hadn’t seen in a while – so natural, so organic, and so friggin hilarious, man. And I really do feel that if I ever find myself in New York or California, I’ve genuinely got people to visit.

But since we only got to meet for a day, we promised ourselves that we’d have a little cyber get-together to try each other’s recipes and boy am I glad I came across their Cinco De Mayo Middle Eastern Falafel Tacos recipe.

Here’s why this recipe appealed to me so much. After watching the episode where Phil is in Mexico eating a shawarma-like ‘pastor’ in Netflix’s Somebody Feed Phil, I vaguely learned about the culinary history shared between Syrian and Lebanese immigrants to Mexico, resulting in a fusion and new take on the traditional recipes that people have grown to know and love.

Because Deana, Nadia and I are all third (fourth) culture kids, bringing our own history and culture to the table when it comes to coming up with new recipes, a falafel taco recipe feels just right.

A warm, crunchy-at-the-sides wholewheat pita bread, topped with a smoked-pepper hummus, crunchy falafel, pickled onions, creamy avocado and a nice cilantro tahini dressing, I mean…come onnnn.


Ingredients:

For falafel*:

  • A can of organic chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Cilantro to taste
  • 1 medium-sized red onion
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 2-3 tablespoons of oat flour (depending on how wet the mixture is)
  • Sea salt
  • Olive oil
*based on the recipe from Minimalist Baker

For hummus:

  • 1 can of organic chickpeas, drained
  • 3 tablespoons of tahini sauce
  • The juice of a lemon
  • Half a clove of garlic
  • 1 smoked red pepper (canned works fine)
  • Olive oil
  • Smoked paprika
  • Sea salt
  • Cumin powder

Toppings (everything here is optional, and based on your falafel sandwich preferences):

  • Pickled red onions (pickle the onions by slicing them, and leaving them in some apple cider vinegar and sea salt for a few minutes)
  • Sliced cherry tomatoes
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Wholewheat pita bread
  • Pomegranate jewels
  • Mint
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado

 

Tahini Side Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons of tahini sauce
  • A handful of chopped cilantro
  • The juice of half a lime/lemon
  • Sea salt
  • And a littttttle bit of water to dilute it.

 

How to Make it:

I know the ingredients may seem like a bit much, but once you get the hang of the flavors and what goes with what, it’s a lot simpler than it seems. The beauty of dishes like this is, there are no rules — just build up, or build down the flavors whichever way you like and practically anything goes.

  1. First, make the falafels by sticking all the ingredients in a food processor except for the olive oil. Make sure to gradually add the oat flour, depending on how wet or dry your mixture is. The falafel mixture should be dry enough for you to form a ball without the mixture sticking to your hand. If it sticks too much, then it’s too wet, add more flour.
  2. Once the falafel mixture is ready, form it into balls and heat a non stick (preferably cast iron skillet) with enough olive oil to coat the pan and fry the falafel balls on medium-high heat, making sure to turn them only once, or they will crumble (since they’re not being deep fried).
  3. In your food processor, mix all the hummus ingredients and blitz until nice and creamy.
  4. With your hand blender or food processor, add the tahini sauce ingredients and blitz together, adding enough water to make the sauce runny and not too dry.
  5. Heat up your pita bread, and start layering the flavors. First, start with some hummus, then pile on the falafel, pickled onions, and all the other toppings you want. I even added some alfalfa sprouts for some extra crunch and nutrients.

There it is, crunchy, healthy and absolutely friggin delicious. This Mexican inspired take on the humble falafel sandwich from the lovely Sweet Pillar Food has everything you’ll ever need.

I know there are a few falafel sandwich puritans out there that aren’t really digging the whole smoked peppers/avocado ensemble, put those rolling eyes aside and give this recipe a try. As Nadia and Deana say in their article:

“As a wannabe food historian, I can’t help but read about the history of food but also pay attention to the present.  With the largest refugee crisis in our lifetime happening before our eyes, I cannot help but wonder what will happen to the culinary world in decades to come. As Middle Eastern refugees begin to settle in Germany, Sweden, Greece, the US, Canada and beyond they will bring their culture and their food and merge it together with the local flavors.  Call it looking at the glass half full, but I am excited to see what culinary creations are going to happen for the years.”

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15-minute Greek Eggplant and Feta Pasta for Lunch

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Throughout all this craziness of falling in and out of love with Straight-upBananas for the past 4 months, one thing has remained constant. I still love to cook, and I still looooove to eat — it’s just somewhere in the middle, the whole sharing bit that has me feeling a bit confused.

Yesterday’s easy, quick lunch was one of my favorite go-tos when I don’t know what to have, or my fridge is starting to run on low…pasta!

This pasta dish is garlicky, creamy and oh-so slurping good!

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or a full-on omnivore, this recipe could be tweaked for any kind of quick lunch, dinner or even breakfast (who are you kidding, we all know at some point we’ve had something not very breakfast-y for breakfast — don’t lie).

Ingredients

  • Any type of whole-wheat pasta (I like OrganicLarder)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 medium-sized eggplant, sliced
  • 2 chopped tomatoes
  • A splash of apple cider vinegar (or a squeeze of lemon)
  • Sea salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • Chopped dill, basil, or thyme (whichever you like best, or have in your fridge)
  • A sprinkle of good-quality crumbled feta cheese (if not vegan)

 

Here’s how to make it

  • First, make sure you put about 2 liters of water  with a nice amount of sea salt to boil for every two portions of pasta (the equation for the correct ratio per person still eludes me. That photo up there was enough for about 3 people, but I ate all of it…alone.)
  • Second, in a large pan, dry fry* (no oil) your eggplant till it gets nice and nearly charred.
  • Then, add your olive oil to the eggplant, and fry up the garlic till nice and golden. Then, add the tomatoes and vinegar or lemon and let the tomatoes stew up nicely and medium-high heat.
  • To the boiling water, add the pasta and cook as the instructions direct (usually about 7-9 minutes).
  • Add some of the starchy pasta water to the sauce in your saucepan and cook for a few more minutes with the sauce till it get’s nice and creamy and reduces. Add the dill to the sauce.
  • Drain the cooked pasta, and add it to the sauce and mix well.
  • Then, serve the pasta with its sauce, and taste it. Add salt and pepper (keeping in mind that your feta cheese will add a dimension of salt to the dish. So do not overdo the salt).
  • Serve in a plate and crumble some feta on top. If you’re feeling extra frisky and have the time, you could even add some chopped up Greek Kalamata olives to the sauce (again, watch the salt).

*The reason  I like to ‘dry’ fry my eggplants is that eggplants tend to act like a sponge when it comes to absorbing oil or water. When you sort of toast them in the pan, they cook through without absorbing the olive oil–making the sauce a lot lighter and less greasy.

I love this recipe. The flavor is so mousakka-ish, but minus the fried eggplants, and the time-consuming assembly. Plus there’s slurpy pasta there, so that’s a win if I ever did see one — no?

Give this recipe a shot, and give me a little shout out. Did you like it? Did you friggin hate it? Either way, I’d love to hear from you.

And since you’re here…why not follow me on Instagram, too?

 

It’s safe to say my life revolves around coconut oil. I personally use it for:
● cooking
●oil pulling
●body moisturizer
●lip balm
●deodorant
●make up remover
●body/face scrub (just add sugar or coffee)
●leave – in conditioner for hair
●de – frizz hair
●sea – salt spritz (instead of gel/mousse )
●night eye cream
●cuticle softener
●supplement to cream in my coffee/smoothies

These are only the things I can think of from the top of my head!

What do you use coconut oil for? I’d love to hear from you!

Check out the blog Www.straight-upbananas.com

Go straight-up bananas and go loco for the coco. Give this stuff a shot and let me know how it went.

#dubai #health #coconut #coconutoil #raw #virgin #organic #natural #naturalliving #nontoxic #nongmo #uae #abudhabi#الامارات #ابوظبي #دبي #straightupbananas

I am in dire need of groceries. All I’ve got are a couple of sprigs of parsley, 2 cloves of garlic, leftover cans of white beans and crushed tomatoes, and some parmesan cheese…what to do?…is it okay to have pasta for the third time this week?…hmm… Well screw that, pasta it is! This quick lunch took me less than ten minutes to put together, and it was so worth the wait lol. 

Ingredients: 

  • Garlic
  • Organic flaxseed fettuccine
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Red chili flakes
  • olive oil
  • half a can of white beans
  • half a can of crushed tomatoes
  • parsley
  • balsamic vinegar

This recipe is more like an assembly than a recipe really, but who cares..as long as it’s yummy, filling, good for me, and in my belly I don’t care how long it takes to make.

Put the pasta to boil in boiling salted water. As the pasta cooks, fry the chopped garlic until golden brown, then add the tomato, parsley, and an incy wincy bit of the pasta water (to loosen up the sauce a bit because it can get quite thick). Once the sauce has cooked for about 5 minutes, turn off the heat, add a splash of balsamic, red chili flakes, and whatever herbs you’ve got on hand, then add the beans–I kept the beans till the end because you want to heat them through, not cook them or else they’ll get super mushy and you’ll end up with a watery mushy pasta, yuck.

Add the pasta to the sauce, toss a bit, and top with a bit of olive oil and parmesan cheese and you’re good to go!

Go straight-up bananas and give it a try and let me know how you like it.

For more recipes that are healthy, fun, and fast check out my blog www.straight-upbananas.com 

Yet another parfait! I am becoming addicted to these little buggers, I tell you.

This parfait consists of the following layers:
● organic chocolate syrup
● crushed almonds
● granola
● mashed bananas
● yogurt and honey
● macerated strawberries and mint

My husband is a bit of a chocolate fanatic and I can tell you right now this recipe was a massive winner!

Go straight-up bananas! Give it a go and let me know how it goes! ♡

Made a parfait for tomorrow’s match!

Check out my blog for recipes:
Www.straight-upbananas.com

#germany #WorldCup #predictions #dubai #dubaiblogger #food #foodblogger #healthy #healthyeating #healthydessert #diet #dubaifood #muesli #blueberry #kiwi #yogurt #easydiy #fastfood #healthyfastfood #easyrecipe #easyrecipes #ramadan #mydubai #myramadan #raw #rawtill4 #fast #health #fit #iftar #foodgasm #nomnom #healthynomnom #foodporn #nomnomnom #tumblrfood #tumblr

Bulgar-stuffed red and yellow bell pepper, zucchini, and tomato with a thick tomato and mint sauce! Yum!

What are you having tonight?

For this recipe I grabbed whatever veggies I had on hand that could be hollowed and..well…did just that! I halved the zucchinis, grabbed a spoon and carefully made circles through the flesh and scooped out the seeds; also, I removed the seeds from the tomato and bell peppers after halving them.

I then put the bulgar wheat to boil in salted water and olive oil. Once the liquid evaporated, I spiced the bulgar by adding a pinch of cinnamon, cumin, pepper flakes, and black pepper.

After that, I drizzled a little bit of olive oil on an oven proof tray, placed the veggies and drizzled a bit more oil and lightly seasoned the veggies with salt and pepper. Then I stuffed the peppers with the bulgar wheat.

After feeling like there was something missing, I decided to make a quick tomato and mint sauce to go with it (I didn’t want it to be too dry). So I just basically fried off some garlic until golden brown and added a can of peeled and chopped tomatoes. A sprinkle of chopped mint and parsley, some salt&pepper and you’re good to go.

I baked the veggies on high heat for about 30 minutes until they were just blistering from the sides. Oh me, oh my!

You will love this recipe, it is delicious and filling. It was a win with my husband and my brother in law! Give it a go, and let me know how it goes! ❤