Falafel with a Twist

188 comments

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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

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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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{ 188 comments… read them below or add one }

Tonya July 16, 2012

Do you ever end up with a weird fishy taste when cooking with ground flax? I typically use ground flax stirred into oatmeal or smoothies but lately, when I add it to something that has to be cooked I get this off putting fishy taste. I dont remember ever having that problem with ground flax before.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

Hey Tonya, I haven’t noticed any strange taste when cooking with flax. Maybe the flax has spoiled?

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Tonya July 16, 2012

I don’t know perhaps….I buy so much flax maybe that was an older baggie-ful. However, someone gave me some Trader Joes Roasted Flax Seed once because they didn’t like the taste and when I tasted it I discovered why–fishy!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

Maybe you can try using ground chia? I find it has a lighter flavour. It absorbs more water though so I usually scale it back if subbing by at least half.

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Tonya July 16, 2012

Ok I will try ground chia. Thank you for your help.

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Liz @ IHeartVegetables July 16, 2012

Those look amazing! I’ve been having a craving for falafel!! I’m totally trying this :)

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Emily @ www.main-eats.com July 16, 2012

I JUST got my first dSLR and am having so much fun learning about all of its amazing features; there are tons of things to think about! I’m amazed that you feel like you are learning so much because I feel like I have been reading your blogs forever and have admired your photography for so long-can’t wait until I am taking pictures half as beautiful as yours!
That falafel looks scrumptious!

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Liz @ Tip Top Shape July 16, 2012

I have such a love-hate relationship with food photography. When it goes well I love it, but all the other times I want to throw my camera out a window. lol

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katie@ KatieDid July 16, 2012

Like you, I can’t imagine my life right now without my passion for photography. I’m sure if my life took a different route I’d be into something else, but photography fascinates me right now. I’ve also been playing with black back drops and bit more dramatic photos.. it’s fun to change up and develop your style as you go.. no rules!

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Yellow Haired Girl July 16, 2012

I love your photography … definitely admire it! And this recipe looks to. die. for. Yum!

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Jesse (OutToLunchCreations) July 16, 2012

I am also getting into food photography (and photography in general) and I love it! I have so much fun playing with backgrounds and props but I need to make sure I have a good 3-4 hours of free time so I don’t have to rush the process. I would love to see more photography tips, tricks and how to posts on your site because you pictures always look great! I have a couple paper backdrops and I love them because they are so cheap but I always end up spilling on them!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

I feel you…my boards are all stained. I have one white board made from plexiglass though and it’s so nice because I can wipe it clean.

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Jesse (OutToLunchCreations) July 16, 2012

That is a great idea to use plexiglass! Where did you find white plexiglass? I use a thick white Bristol board to bounce my light and it has fallen into my food so many times it is covered in stains and I can’t use it as a backdrop or base anymore!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

It was a birthday gift from Eric…hahah I had NO idea he was getting one…or even that you could use it for photography! Leave it to a guy to order plexiglass right? I think he ordered it from a mirror & glass store, but im not sure the name. Apparently you can get them in many colours ;)

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Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) July 16, 2012

I get bored really easily so I really need to add new hobbies all the time.

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Stacy @ Stacy Eats July 16, 2012

I’m working on learning more about photography. I got a DSLR for my birthday this year, but so far it’s been a slow process of taking it off auto. I always appreciate your posts about photography – they’re inspiring!

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Elizabeth July 16, 2012

I have always wanted to try making these raw using soaked and sprouted garbanzos!!
Looks so wonderful.
I would not want to clean up your kitchen though!! LOL.
Peace and Raw Health,
Elizabeth

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Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily July 16, 2012

Ooooooo, good idea!

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Lauren July 16, 2012

The falafel looks great, but, um what is that chocolate deliciousness on the countertop?! Did I miss where you said?

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012
Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers July 16, 2012

I hate to admit this, but I have not tried falafel. It’s a shame because cumin is one of my all-time fav spices, and I can’t get enough chickpeas. Definitely bookmarking this!

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Ileana July 16, 2012

The falafel looks great. And I love the photos of food with the black background!

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Nicole July 16, 2012

Beautiful pictures! I have had a huge passion for working out in general for the last 8 years, but I always thought, as a female, that I was suppose to do cardio all the time – running, cycling, elliptical. I came to find that I didn’t enjoy these activities nearly as much as lifting weights. Strength training has turned into a hobby of mine, and I’ve loved the changes it’s made to my body. I always try to encourage other women to give strength training a try, because you never know, you may end up enjoying it more than your cardio of choice!

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Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See July 16, 2012

Yum I looove falafel! In DC, there’s a place called Amsterdam Falafel shop that has some pretty amazing falafel. They also have an unlimited toppings bar!!

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Averie @ Averie Cooks July 16, 2012

So then you don’t use your kitchen much and it’s always perfect? :)

Love the shot of it! Looks like mine many days. I tell my husband when he gets home from work that if he ONLY SAW the hurricane that was our house in the middle of the day he wouldn’t believe it. I don’t think he believes what a mess I make of it mid-day :)

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Jemma @ Celery and Cupcakes July 16, 2012

Loving the new blog header- and the falafels wow!

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deirdre July 16, 2012

you are such an inspiration-in the kitchen and out. thank you…also i had falafel on the menu for this week so i think i’ll give your recipe a go. thanks for sharing :)

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Tiffany @ eat clean work dirty July 16, 2012

I’m so glad I’m not the only whose kitchen looks like that! Haha! You’re falafels look delicious, they are definitely going on my menu next week!

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Susan July 16, 2012

Your photography is amazing and I am totally intimidated at the thought of trying to learn to be that good. I can totally appreciate though how it’s just another way to share your passion for food. A friend and I made a gorgeous beet and rhubarb salad this past weekend after visiting the local Farmer’s market and I so wanted to take a beautiful picture to share.

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Karen July 16, 2012

These look awesome, Angela. And, I’ve been meaning to thank you big time for that spicy chickpea recipe. I make vegan burgers all the time, but can never replicate the results perfectly – it’s always a gamble as to whether the texture will be just right. As you said, they are so tricky to get right. But, armed with your characteristically super detailed instructions they came out beautifully and tasted fantastic! And, I’ve made them three times since you posted the recipe…my new favorite burger recipe!!!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

That’s awesome Karen, so happy you enjoy them!

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Christa July 16, 2012

Hi Angela,
I am wondering if there is a sub you could recommend for nutritional yeast in the Tahini Dressing? Thanks – I’m a regular follower and love your blog. Thanks so much for the healthy and fun recipes.
Christa
Nashville TN

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Lisa @ the raw serenity July 16, 2012

You can feel how passionate you are about photography through your words, it’s wonderful!
It’s not really a hobby, but a passion of mine now is being vegan. I love researching foods, articles, clothing ect and everyday question how I ever lived another way.
X

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Stephanie @ The Fitness Adventures July 16, 2012

It’s so amazing to look at your older posts and see the progress you have made with your photography. It’s obvious that photography is a growing passion of yours and we are all so lucky to benefit from the drool inspiring photos!

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Ali @ Project Kale July 16, 2012

This looks delicious! I love falafel so much, but never want to order it or make it, because it’s traditionally fried in all that oil. This is such a great option – all the flavors, none of the deep frying. Can’t wait to try it!! THANKS!

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Zoe@lose weight and gain health July 16, 2012

I was thinking before I started reading your blog today how amazing your photography has become. Keep going with it, it’s brilliant.

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Christine Gillis July 16, 2012

I made falafel not too long ago and it was a huge hit! Your recipe sounds delish and I’ve already made the Lightened Up tahini Dressing and can only imagine the magic that happens between the two of them! Thanks!

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Stefania @ Revitalize with Stefania July 16, 2012

those falafel look delish! I have chickpeas soaking, originally intended for hummus, but I may have to make these instead!

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Moni Meals July 16, 2012

Great post and I think you reached many people who ever may feel frustrated to never give up! job well done. :-) I look forward to entering the world of photography soon… my newest hobby is surfing, it is still so challenging it scares the beep out of me!
Anyways, I have a great falafel recipe similar to yours, looks so great, I hope to try it. :-)

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Mary @ Veganfully Me July 16, 2012

Mmm, these look so good and the pictures are stunning as always!

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Angel July 16, 2012

That falafel looks good. I made some last week. Ate it in wraps with homemade dressing, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Yum. I agree about food photography. I am beginning to find it quite interesting as well. lol Thanks for sharing your insights. :)

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Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy July 16, 2012

oh my gosh I LOVE this recipe! i am such a fan of falafel! this looks so delicious!

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Katherine @ The Fit Lady Sings July 16, 2012

Wow, I think it’s fate that I came across this post today, and not just because I love falafel! I started blogging less than two months ago, and just wrote a post about starting this new hobby that I enjoy very much, despite being overwhelming sometimes. Your post was a reminder to keep cracking at it and enjoy the learning process! Thanks!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 16, 2012

I’m glad you enjoyed it…I’m off to check out your blog!

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Jacqueline July 16, 2012

These look so good!! Your passion for photography should come with a disclaimer that says: caution, pictures of food may induce drooling.
After I took a creative writing class, I changed my major to become a creative writing major. Can’t imagine life without writing, and my blog is a big part of that!

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luv what you do July 16, 2012

Blogging seems to be my new hobby obsession, but I’m hoping to get more into photography one day when I have more time and money. I love falafel, but I have never made it sucessfully. I will have to give this recipe a try!

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Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily July 16, 2012

I’ve tried to make falafel twice fro scratch and it was a bust :(. I’m going to give this recipe a try next week so cross your fingers for me!

P.S.
I FINALLY bought a Vitamix a few days ago w you as my inspiration. I’ve been visiting your site for a couple of years and found inspiration in your green smoothie recipes.
Much thanks!

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Sophie Wang (@aecliss) July 16, 2012

Love the post, and the photos too. Keep on enjoying life, food, and continue inspiring everyone around you :)

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Dani July 17, 2012

Yum Falafel!!! One of my faves. Another great thing about photography is that fancy equipment is great but you can still take a pretty picture with some simple skills and a point and shoot. Well thats what I tell myself as all the photos on my blog are from an iPhone :)
The Ontario tomatoes are looking pretty good this year!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 17, 2012

Totally agree…I bring my point and shoot everywhere!

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Sarah F July 17, 2012

HI Angela,

Just wondering – Have you tried it with the canned chickpeas??
I have an extremly similar recipie I use that calls for dried chickpeas simliar to yours. I tried it with canned chickpeas and it came out to a total PASTE in the food processor. If using the canned beans Id recommend using a potato masher on them. The food processor just becomes too pasty. I found that even by pulsing the processor the canned ones still became more like hummus.. lol

Have you expereinced this at all? And if so what were your solutions?
Thanks!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) July 17, 2012

Hey Sarah, I haven’t tried it with canned chickpeas, but thanks for the tip! I assumed it would be fine. I like your suggestion of using a potato masher, I will put that in the recipe as a suggestion.

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Lucy @ tales from abroad July 17, 2012

Oh, falafel! My favourite. I’m always collecting falafel recipes to try and find the perfect mix, I’ll definitely be trying this when I can.

Thanks for the recipe :)

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