Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Chickpeas and Avocados

     Growing up I never realized what a narrow selection of foods we ate. And to my mother's credit, it could not have been easy to plan meals for 6 very different people, 4 of which were picky, snot nosed, little kids who would whine at the very thought of trying something new. And when it comes down to it, feeding 6 people is expensive, so if you're going to be spending that much money on feeding everyone you are going to be sure everything will be eaten... maybe even joyfully. And growing up, I was perfectly content to not try anything new. Ever.

     But I'm the Mom now, so I can plan the meals. And while I take my daughter's preferences into account, I don't let them dictate my overall grocery list. I'm branching out and trying all sorts of things that I never tried when I was growing up, in hopes that it will help encourage my daughter to not be afraid of trying something new. Two ingredients that never crossed our plates as kids were the inspiration for tonight's meal: chickpeas and avocados. Both of which hold a wealth of nutritional value for vegetarians and dieters alike.

Quinoa Falafels Ingredients
     First we'll take a look at chickpeas. Now, these are something I ate one time as a kid. It was an awful experience too. My mom agrees with a, "What was I thinking?!". I want to say we had them whole on a salad or something similar. All I really remember was chocking down these hard little balls while my younger brother sat at the table refusing to eat his. He sat there until bedtime and never did have to finish them. Lucky kid. That experience was more than enough to keep me away until years later when I was expected to make hummus at work. And of course, we had to taste everything we made. Turns out ground chickpeas taste pretty good with oil, garlic, tahini, and cilantro. In fact, hummus has become one of my all-time favorite afternoon snacks. As for their nutritional value: Good source of protein, iron, dietary fiber, and calcium, reduce the risk of heart diseases and certain cancers, and great for weight loss because they can keep you full feeling longer. Read up on them here if you want to learn more.

Avocado and Tahini Dressing Ingredients
     On to the avocado. These funny looking things were never a part of my childhood. I can understand why though, my brother's and I would have never willingly tried them and I don't think they are my father's favorite either. This is another food I came into more recently having made guacamole at a previous job and being a big fan of sushi. These fruits were long thought to be unhealthy with their caloric and fat content, but the inverse has since become the popular food theory. Read up on the nutritional facts here. On to tonight's meal:

     Originally I was just hunting the internet for something interesting that used avocados. I found a smoothie that I'm excited to try, but that wouldn't make a great dinner I'm afraid. And a couple clicks later I'd fallen into an internet wormhole that lead me to Vegangela. Falafel's were a perfect idea for my daughter since in one show she enjoys the main characters are always eating at Falafel Phils. So it was a good tie in that had her hooked on really trying to like something. And the dressing had the avocado element I was looking for! And quinoa! Three superfoods in one meal?! SOLD!

     I can honestly say I didn't change much from her recipe. I thought it read great as is. Only changes I made were: blending the cilantro and seasonings in with the chickpeas, adding a little bit of avocado oil to make it blend better, and changing the two vegan eggs into one regular egg. As for the sauce, I added some garlic. I also didn't fry in as much oil, just pan sprayed my pan.

     I mixed mine up and used an ice cream scoop to portion out 7 fairly large falafels, pan seared them off, and then served them on a piece off naan. My daughter was not a fan of the avocado sauce sadly. So after trying it she ate her falafel 'burger' with ketchup instead. Which she thoroughly enjoyed. I really like the sauce though and am glad to have it for future dinners and possibly as a dipping sauce for carrots at a later date.

Quinoa Falafel
Avocado Tahini Dressing