I weighed myself for the first time in almost a year. I’ve gained 10 pounds. Most of that is from my time in quarantine. I’m not eating fast food or takeout but I am drinking wine and eating sweets well into the evening. I’ve always had quite the appetite but it was balanced out by all the walking I did. Now that I’m stuck in isolation in my childhood home of Ottawa, I mostly look forward to eating and drinking.
I still go for walks but walking used to be a necessity and now it’s just something I do so I don’t go crazy. On average, I would walk at least an hour a day in LA, running errands, walking to shows or the gym, going on hikes. Now, with a hamstring injury I find myself doing the bare minimum and planning what I’ll make for dinner.
In LA I would buy only what I needed for the week. Meat in smaller portions. Lots of veggies. In Ottawa? There seems to be meat and bread with every meal. And there’s always pie. (BOO HOO JULIA, IT MUST BE SO HARD FOR YOUR EATING ALL THAT PIE?!) It’s that feeling when you come home for the holidays and your family spoils you. (WOAH IS ME.) I am spoiled everyday, and while I am not complaining, it’s starting to make me sluggish. I am so grateful that my family has the resources to provide a bounty of food. Not all are so lucky, which is why I urge you to donate to local food banks if you can. I will do the same!
In the meantime, if you’re feeling like you’ve been eating a lot of heavy stuff and want to have a meal without sacrificing flavour and substance, try this falafel and salad combo for dinner! I wanted a vegetarian dish that didn’t involve a ton of starch or carbs. That’s why I use hemp hearts in the salad instead of couscous. But you can use any kind of grain if you’d like to bulk it up, or omit it completely and stick to just straight up veggies and herbs!
This is not an authentic falafel and tabouleh recipe but it embodies the same flavours. I was genuinely surprised by how delicious this was. As much as I love steak and potatoes, this colourful plate full of herbs and spices wiLL awaken your senses.
1 cup chopped fresh parsley (maybe some mint if you have it?)
1-2 bell peppers, chopped
1 pint grape/cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1 cup hemp hearts
half an english cucumber, diced
half cup marinated artichokes, roughly chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Splash of red wine vinegar
few glugs of olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper to taste
- Mix all your ingredients together! The measurements aren’t exact. Add more or less of something if you’d like. I suggest making the vinaigrette on the side and tasting it first before you add it to the salad ingredients. If you find it too tangy, add more oil. Too bland? More lemon or vinegar.
- Let sit for at least 1 hour in the fridge before serving so they flavours get aquatinted. Taken it out 15 min before eating so it’s not ice cold.
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 egg (you can omit, but I feel like it helps hold the shape)
3-4 TBSP all purpose flour (or gluten free)
1-2 shallots, finely diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of cinnamon or cardamom
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tbsp neutral oil (avocado, vegetable, canola)
- Mix all ingredients, except oil, together in a bowl and mash with potatoes masher or fork until it comes together, adding more flour if necessary. It should feel like a thick, slightly sticky, chunky “dough”.
- Let sit in fridge for 30 min to an hour to firm up.
- When ready to make, pre-heat oven to 400.
- Form into 4 equal balls, and then flatten into patties.
- Add oil to a heavy bottomed frying pan over medium/high heat. Once oil is hot fry patties for about 3-4 minutes per side, making sure they don’t burn. Transfer to an over safe pan or dish and let bake in oven for 5-6 minutes. This part isn’t necessary but I feel like it makes them extra crisp!
I served the patties with the salad and fresh, oven warmed pita, hummus (I used store-bought but you can always make your own!) and my homemade garlic, yogurt dill sauce.
Garlic Yogurt Dill Sauce
1 cup plain greek yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
3-4 cloves pressed garlic
1/2 a lemon, juiced
1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp or so honey
1 tsp or so dijon
salt and pepper to taste
- Mix everything together! Give it a taste and adjust accordingly. If you find it too garlicky, add more yogurt or sour cream.
- Let sit for at least an hour before serving. This can also be made the night before so the flavours have time to develop.
- Taste again before serving, as the flavours may have changed or intensified!
Now you’re ready to eat! Plate everything and enjoy! I like to tear off a piece of pita and add a little bit of everything to have a delicious bite of deconstructed falafel sandwich. If you want to make this handheld, you could toss all of this stuff directly in a pita too! I was trying to go easy on the bread though. The garlicky, cool dill sauce with the savoury, flavour packed falafel is a winning combination. And the salad is an explosion of freshness and tang! My dad, who isn’t an adventurous eater, really loved everything. Hooray!
I didn’t miss the meat, baguette, cream sauce, pasta, or whatever decadent things I’ve been ploughing into my body. At the end of the meal I was full. Satisfied. Triumphant! It made me excited about making healthier choices. I hope it excites you too!
Now, eat this and shut up!