Falafel with a Twist

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An unexpected passion that resulted from this blog is, without a doubt, my growing love for food photography. I could talk your ear off about lighting, camera equipment, props, my weaknesses and frustrations, difficult vs. easy subjects, and the best times of day to shoot. I find myself saying things like, “Look how beautiful the lighting looks outside…total GOLDEN hour!” or “Check out the way the light is hitting the apple on the table” or “My new lens fell face first into a bowl of cookie dough…”  or “I swear I’m going to throw this damn tripod out the window”

Before I started blogging, I don’t think taking a picture of my food ever crossed my mind. Ok, that’s not entirely true; I remember taking a few food photos while on our honeymoon in Europe…mostly of candy stores and gelato!

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The more I think about my interest in photography, the more I find it parallels my own personal journey with food. It’s been years now since I recovered from an eating disorder and my love for food has done a complete 180 since then. Food photography is simply another way to communicate my passion for food. I get excited when I see a vibrant dish or taste something incredible. It’s fun to share that through a photo.

The amazing (and intimidating) thing about photography is the sheer amount there is to learn. I feel like a kid again, trying desperately to get the hang of riding a bike without training wheels. The challenge is what makes it interesting though and every photograph is the chance to try something different and learn something new. I went from let-me-just-snap-the-damn-photo-so-I-can-write-this-post, to actually enjoying the process.

Speaking of trying something new, it’s amazing what a difference background colour can make in a photo. For the photos in today’s post, I used a black piece of Bristol board to place the food on. I picked this up at Michael’s on the weekend figuring I would try out a black background for a change. You can’t go wrong for a prop that costs $1.49! I love the dramatic feeling black provides without overpowering the food like a print or bold colour can. Everything really seems to pop off the black background and the food takes centre stage, as it should.

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I also love using our kitchen countertop for a similar effect:

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Plus, easy clean up.

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Although most days, the kitchen looks like this..

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In this skillet picture, black also sets the backdrop for the photo allowing the falafel really pop and the light glisten off the pan.

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Moral of the story: Don’t give up on creating new hobbies in your life, no matter what your skill level, age, or what you are already doing. Give it a shot. Who knows you might end up finding a new hobby that you will enjoy the rest of your life!

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So, how ‘bout that food?

This recipe today is my spin on traditional falafel. It’s packed with omega rich ground flax and it’s not fried, but you won’t miss it. A bit of lemon juice mixed into the batter really makes the flavours pop. I served it on top of a simple salad drizzled with my favourite Lightened Up Lemon Tahini Dressing, but feel free to stuff it in a doughy pita, wrap, or even make a falafel burger.

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Falafel with a Twist

Print, Email, or Text this recipe

Yield: 7-9 patties

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dry/uncooked chickpeas (or 2 & 1/4 cups cooked)
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup red onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt, or to taste

 

1. 1. If cooking chickpeas from scratch soak overnight (or for 8 hours) and then follow these directions for cooking. Alternatively, use 2 & 1/4 cup canned chickpeas. Note: A reader suggests mashing the canned chickpeas (if using) with a potato masher instead of processing them. This will prevent them from forming a paste.

2. In a food processor, with the processor running, drop in 3 garlic cloves to mince. Now add most of the chickpeas (reserving about 1/4 cup to stir in later), and process a few seconds to chop. Now add the onion, lemon juice, and herbs. Process until just combined, being careful not to over-process. You want to leave texture. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.

3. Scoop the mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the ground flax, breadcrumbs, cumin, reserved chickpeas, and salt and pepper to taste. Shape into patties, about 1/4 cup each and really pack the dough in tightly so it holds together.

4. Grease pre-heated skillet with cooking oil and then cook the patties on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes on each side, or until golden. For the salad: Add chopped tomato, red onion, a drizzle of hot sauce, cucumbers, falafel, and my Lightened Up Lemon Tahini Dressing.

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Have you ever discovered a hobby that seemed to come out of nowhere and now you can’t imagine life without it?

Or are you bored with your current hobbies and looking to try something new?

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{ 184 comments… read them below or add one }

Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 16, 2012

Totally totally hear ya on the photography hobby!!! Ever since I got my SLR last year I’ve been loving the whole picture taking experience waaaay more than I did before (thanks to your lessons!!) I never ever thought I’d get into it and as a kid I couldn’t think of anything more boring (except for stamp collecting maybe?) but now I absolutely love it. My roommate was laughing at me the other day because I came home with a package of hardwood flooring from Home Depot to make a table backdrop with, and I was SO excited about it. Now I’m having fun experimenting! PS. The falafels look lovely!! :)

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Kaila @healthyhelperblog! July 16, 2012

I have never made falafel before! I have only ever had it at Mediterranean restaurants! I thinks its time to try it out in my own kitchen ;)

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The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh July 16, 2012

I still have a long way to go but I love photography as well. I find I’m sometimes impatient or I’ll sit there looking at pics feeling like something is missing but not knowing what or how to make it look the way I want it to. I suppose I should actually crack the binder on some photography books I bought for that purpose, eh? :-)

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Leanne @ Healthful Pursuit July 16, 2012

Using bristol board is my go-to for a lot of my foodie setups! If you go to the dollar store, you can get 2 boars for $1! HA! I really like your counter top and can appreciate the easy clean up. Also, happy to hear you’ve dropped your lens in food before. Kevin can’t understand how I manage to get our cameras so dirty… its a challenge!

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Kim@healthyhungrygirl July 16, 2012

Your photography is beautiful! I hope one day mine is as gorgeous as yours. If the falafel is as good as your veggie burgers; we’re in business. ;)

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LizAshlee July 16, 2012

I love the photos and the tips..thanks for sharing! Last week I tried to different colored plates and it was amazing to see the difference in the photos! I am LOVING yoga at the moment, more than ever, I just can’t get enough! :)

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Duck July 16, 2012

I agree, I started my blog years ago but it’s only in the last year or so that I’ve become obsessed with making my photography beautiful. I started with trying to get good shots at fashion shows, then I moved onto constructing elaborate set-ups for my outfit posts, and now I often snap photos of what I’m eating/cooking too. My obsession with lens, ISO, shutter speed does not seems to be disappearing…

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Christa @ Edible Balance July 16, 2012

Oh dear… I’m still using my iPhone these days for food pictures… there are amazing apps out there to edit with, but I really need to get moving and use my digital SLR a lot more! Rediscover my passion for photography.

My new ‘hobby’ or obsession… I just bought a new road bike and I’m loving it! Except for the learning to use those darn shoe clips. I have many bumps and bruises from this weekend :(

Those falafels look incredible! I wasn’t able to plan my meals this week, mostly due to laziness, LOL… this will definitely be on the menu this week!

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table July 16, 2012

I wish I was more passionate about photography. I think I get too excited about whatever I’m about to eat and am too irked that I have to wait until I take pics to enjoy it. LOL!

How do you get your granite counters so shiny? I think someone told me not to use Windex… which is of course exactly what I use…

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

I’ve been using a Method granite spray on them…works great!

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Lindsay July 16, 2012

I have been looking for a good falafel recipe. Excited to try this one! I have fallen in love with your tomato basil cream pasta by the way. Sooooo good! :)

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Cait's Plate July 16, 2012

I hear you on the photography – I LOVE it. I have a ton of learning to do, but ultimately I just love doing it :)

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Grace @ Grace Dishes July 16, 2012

My photos are amateur at best but my sister has become really good since purchasing her professional camera.

It’s something I’m interested in and I’ve always thought your blog had wonderful photos.

My brother tried falafels for the first time in June and loved them. I think I’m going to try this recipe and make it for him :) THANKS!

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Amanda July 16, 2012

I’ve also been experimenting with shooting on a black background these last couple of weeks. I love the way it makes lighter colors pop, and it adds a little mystery to the photos. :)

Falafel is one of my favorite foods, but I’ve actually never made it at home. I think I have all the ingredients on hand to try your recipe!

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DessertForTwo July 16, 2012

Gorgeous, as always! And I love the black backdrop :)

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Danica Kordic July 16, 2012

Have you bought your lens used or brand new?? I have a Canon T2i and have been wanting to purchase a new lens but not sure if I should go with brand new or used……photography hobby can get so expensive!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

I bought my lens new…too worried if I bought used I would have issues and not be able to return it. I wonder if you can buy used lenses anywhere with a warranty?

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Danica Kordic July 16, 2012

Hmmmm just checked Henry’s website and if you buy used from there ebay sight they offer warranty.

Which lens have you purchased so far?

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meg July 17, 2012

AMAZON sells all kinds of used lenses with warranties, that can save off few hundred dollars. I always buy new lenses, though, just because I am paranoid about spending so much money and not being happy with used lens. That doesn’t mean that you can’t buy a used lens in perfect condition. I am a big fan of buying my equpment on AMAZON, you can get a small credit line (amazon store card) and usually purchases over $500 have no interest for 12 months.

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Danica Kordic July 17, 2012

Awesome! Thanks for all of the info :)

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K July 16, 2012

I would like to get into photography more. I also want to learn how to play a musical instrument and learn Spanish. I think those could easily become hobbies- there’s always an opportunity to get better!

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Erica { EricaDHouse.com } July 16, 2012

I am totally obsessed with falafel – can’t wait to try this!

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Liz July 16, 2012

I am slightly obsessed with photography, to the point that my husband has to sometimes give me a stern look/talking to, so I will stop and just ‘be’ :)

That falafel is definitely going on the ‘to cook’ list, but I also wanted to add that we tried your veggie burgers again last night . . .. goodness! Just SO delicious! And my husband went back for seconds (several hours in the heat on the golf course requires sustenance). He turned down the hot dogs that his mates were having there, because he knew he was having your veggie burgers when he got home. Plus I have extras for lunch this week. Thanks Ange!!

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Robyn July 16, 2012

It’s amazing something so simple to change up the feel/background in a photo,,,I love the black too. I have a great camera and will at some point take more time to get to know it and have fun with it…but my newset passion(2.5 yrs) is definately running..out of the blue that I did not see myself doing. Love your recipe, love falafel…bought collard greens for the first time at the market and I’m thinking they will be the perfect wrap :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

Love the idea of making a wrap with greens! Now I wish I had leftovers for lunch to try this… :)

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Cait Orton July 16, 2012

This looks AMAZING. I can’t wait to try it! I love love love love love falafel. Thanks for sharing!

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Erin @ The Grass Skirt July 16, 2012

I’ve actually never tried falafel before! I have all of the ingredients on hand to make this, so I am giving it a try ASAP!

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Wendy Irene July 16, 2012

Falafels are one of my all-time favorite foods. I love them so much and always get them when I go to Pita Pit. I’m really excited to have your recipe to make them at home! I have a question for you – do you have any veggie burger recipes you would recommend for kids? Sometimes the flavors can be strong and the processed ones have so much sodium. I’m looking for a recipe to try for my little ones. Have a great day, Angela!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

You might be able to adapt my spicy chickpea burgers (leave out spices & use a mild BBQ sauce)? http://ohsheglows.com/recipage/?recipe_id=6027999 If veggies are an issue, maybe process the mixture so the veggies are more hidden.

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Wendy Irene July 16, 2012

Thanks Angela! That is a great idea :)

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summertimedaffodily July 16, 2012

Thank you for this great recipe! I can’t wait to try it out! Also, I wanted to thank you for the food photography tips. I’m brand new at food blogging (summertimedaffodily.blogspot) and have been perplexed with how to make food in a picture look as delicious in a photo as it does in person! :)

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Dennis July 16, 2012

I didn’t see any guys commenting around here, so just wanted to thanks for the recipe. Ground flax is not very common here… maybe I{ll try with ground nuts :)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

Would love to see more men commenting! :) Thanks Dennis, I hope you enjoy it.

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Cindy Robinson July 16, 2012

I loved reading your post. And, I can tell, you’ve come a long way, and your passion shows. I almost jumped out of my seat that picture of the falafels in the pan looks amazing! Can’t wait to try it!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

Thank you Cindy, I’m glad to hear that. :)

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Kat July 16, 2012

I love falafel. Photography is also an unexpected hobby for me. I like food photography because you have complete control over what goes in the photo, down to the arrangement and the background color, sort of like painting a picture. And the kitchen mess (my “real” kitchen also frequently looks like yours) stays out!

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Sarina @ Earthgiven July 16, 2012

I love that these falafels aren’t deep fried! Your photographs are always so beautiful. Thanks for showing us some “behind the scenes” info and tips!

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Janae @ Bring-Joy July 16, 2012

Angela: I went to BlogHer Food about a month ago & went to a great session on food photography. The presenters both have blogs w/ excellent food photography. You can see a recap of their presentation here: http://www.dessertsforbreakfast.com/2012/06/current-food-photography-styles-and.html. I too, have fallen in love with my camera (my husband gets a bit jealous of all the time I spend with it). It’s fun to experiment with backgrounds, aperature, lighting. For myself, I won’t take pictures of food unless it’s in natural lighting. I just can’t bear the sight of my food under the flash, but that’s just me :).

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

Thank you for the link! I will def. check it out.
I agree about natural light…it’s easily one of the best ways to improve a photo.

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Janae @ Bring-Joy July 16, 2012

No problem, I always appreciate learning from people who really know their stuff. I’m glad they were so kind to share their expertise. Yes, natural light is an amazing thing. No replacement for it.

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Theresa July 16, 2012

These look great! Quick questions – did you use fresh herbs or already dried?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

I used fresh herbs…I’ll clarify in the recipe!

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Heather (Heather's Dish) July 16, 2012

i love photography too and wish i took more time (and space!) to really get a great collection of props…it’s amazing how you can take something from good to great with perfect lighting and props!

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Rachel July 16, 2012

I’ve been looking for a good falafel recipe! I’ll definitely try it! It looks amazing :)

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Willow July 16, 2012

I had much the same process, discovering food photography. I was interested in photography prior to food blogging, but hadn’t really taken food pictures before. It’s a completely different from other kinds of photography, and there is so much to learn! I think the key is to never stop playing.

Also, those falafels have me lickin’ my chops – I haven’t had middle eastern food in a while, and my belly is saying it’s about time!!

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Ari@ThE DiVa DiSh July 16, 2012

You always take such beautiful pictures!! And I love falafels, and can’t wait to try your twist on them! :)

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Andrea@Vegvacious July 16, 2012

Well, definitely my blog ~ the writing, the recipe creation and the photography have all become a passion of mine over the past 18 months. It’s a great creative outlet and I find so much fulfillment and joy out of doing it — more than I ever imagined really! I also just started weight training as part of my exercise plan. I was scared to death to start it and really, really intimidated and now I can’t believe how much I love it! I actually make a workout plan each week and look forward to every single workout!

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Kristy July 16, 2012

Hey… a hobby I couldn’t imagine my life without now.. is something called
GEOCACHING….. a group of our friends have recently discovered it…been going it since April 2012 and have already found over 160 in my area of the city where I live….

http://www.geocaching.com GIVES you all the information and questions you would have answered… it is LITERALLY addicting and SOO MUCH FUN :) Check it out… I think you and Eric would like it…

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Gil July 16, 2012

Hi Angela
Love your blog!
I think the traditional Falafel recipe calls for soaking the chickpeas for ~24 hours and then just putting them in the blender with the rest of the Ingredients… (no cooking…)

if you are worried about them falling apart… put the blended mix in the fridge for 2 hours!
;-)

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

yes, I’ve seen those recipes too…should try that method sometime!

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Jessica July 16, 2012

I can really relate to this post. As a new blogger, I want my photos to be beautiful and captivating and interesting, but at the same time – especially with cooking – it’s like, uhg I just want to get this over with! I know I need to purchase a new camera and learn about photography more and it is definitely intimidating, but the prospect of actually being good at it and being able to learn a new skill that can be used in many ways (not just blogging) is very exciting!

This falafel recipe looks scrumptious! The man and I are trying to go on a diet and this is the perfect alternative to the traditional version! Thanks for sharing!

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Kathryn July 16, 2012

The tomato looks sooo good in the pictures! YUM!

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allison July 16, 2012

1. I love that you shared what your “real” kitchen looks like :-) Mine too after any sort of food creating :-)

2. I love falafel and so do my kids. I havent’ made them be vegan but I won’t make two dinners either ;-)

3. i think this will be thursdays dinner :-)

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Debbie @ Live from La Quinta July 16, 2012

Your falafels are making my mouth water and it’s only 8:00 in the morning. I’m definitely going to make this recipe.

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