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Celebrate Cooler Temperatures With Vegan, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Pie

It’s already fall where we live, and our thoughts naturally turn to pumpkin treats. And what is more autumnal than pumpkin pie? Normally, this cool weather delicacy is made with eggs and condensed milk, but our vegan, gluten-free version calls for unsweetened almond milk and cornstarch (or arrowroot powder). The texture is more jiggly than a traditional pumpkin pie, but our version still tastes great and goes down smooth!

CRUST INGREDIENTS

6 tablespoons cold vegan butter or margarine (such as Earth Balance)
1 3/4 cups gluten-free flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill Pastry Flour for a light, flakey crust)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
6-8 teaspoons cold water

FILLING INGREDIENTS

3 cups pumpkin puree (2 15-ounce cans)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup turbinado or coconut sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
1 3/4 teaspoon combination of powdered cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg (or allspice)
dash of sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Pour flour into large mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt, and cut in the butter or margarine. Gradually splash in the water and form your mixture into a pliable ball. Make sure it’s neither too moist or too dry. Cover and place in refrigerator for 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile, combine the filling ingredients in another bowl and stir vigorously until they’re thoroughly combined. For additional smoothness, place the contents into a blender and whip for a couple of extra minutes. The texture should be light and frothy.

Remove dough from refrigerator and allow it to warm on your counter for a few minutes. Roll into a thin disk and press inside lightly greased pie pan. (Use coconut oil, olive oil, or vegan butter/margarine). Pull any excess dough up over the sides of the pan and tamp with the tines of a fork to create a crust. Carefully pour in batter, making sure it is spread evenly. Sprinkle the top with a bit of additional cinnamon and/or nutmeg and place in preheated 350 degree oven.

Bake for 45-60 minutes, until crust is lightly browned and separating slightly from the pan. You’ll know your pie is done by the delicious aroma! Remove pie from oven, set it on your counter, and allow it to cool. Seriously, try not to eat all of it while it’s still hot! Pumpkin pie tastes best at room temperature. Serve as is or with a dollop of vegan whipping cream (or two, or three, or…) Serves 4-6 guests, unless they’re very hungry. Everyone will rave about this delicious autumnal treat. Welcome to fall!

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You Won’t Be Able to Stop Eating This Vegan, Gluten-Free Rhubarb/Pear/Almond Crumble!

It already feels like autumn where we live, and we’re craving warmer, heartier foods. Of course, sweet desserts are delicious any time of the year. We recently modified a traditional rhubarb/pear/almond crumble recipe by substituting Earth Balance for butter, and gluten-free flour for the whole wheat kind. Our results were stellar. You’ll keep going back to the pan for this dessert — again, and again and again. Try your hardest not to devour the entire thing!

FILLING INGREDIENTS

2-3 Bartlett pears, depending on size (red is great, but yellow will do)
2 long stalks fresh rhubarb
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup lightly packed turbinado or coconut sugar
1/2 cup light gluten-free flour (We like Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose)
fresh grated zest of one lemon
pinch of sea salt

CRUMBLE INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup chopped almonds, toasted
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup gluten-free flour
1/4 cup lightly packed turbinado sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or cloves
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
3 1/2 teaspoons vegan butter or margarine such as Earth Balance

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and toast the almonds for 5-10 minutes until slightly browned. Remove from oven and set aside. Cut pears into thin slices and cut rhubarb into small chunks. The rhubarb’s texture may seem much harder than the pear’s, but both will soften nicely while baking and achieve the same consistency. Using a large bowl, mix the pears and rhubarb together with the other filling ingredients. Set on counter to marinate for 10-15 minutes.

Grab another bowl and combine the crumble ingredients, except for the butter or margarine. Cut the butter or margarine into small pieces and stir into the mixture. It’s okay if it comes out a bit lumpy, since the butter/margarine will melt in the oven, anyway! No point in worrying when you’re so close to your goal!

Pour the filling into a square pan and spread evenly. Spread the crumble mixture across the top and sprinkle with additional cinnamon, if desired. A little bit of cinnamon goes a long way! Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool, but not too much! Your crumble is best served hot.

Call 3-4 of your best friends and tell them to come over immediately, so the dessert won’t be gone before they arrive. The crumble serves 4-5 people with ease. We love it as is, but you can get fancy with added vegan ice cream and/or whipped cream. With so much sugar, this dessert is not a diet food, but it IS 100% vegan, gluten-free, and scrumptious. Welcome, autumn!

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Dijon-Marinated Wax Bean and Cucumber Salad is a Summer Winner!

What happened? It’s already the end of the summer — the time when we often have a lot of vegetables left over from our numerous trips to farmer’s markets, co-ops, and supermarkets. Two vegetables that seem ubiquitous are cucumbers and wax beans. Recently, we faced a conundrum — our refrigerator’s crisper was filled to overflowing with cukes and beans. We’d rather perish than waste food, especially fresh veggies! Fortunately, with very little fuss, we were able to whip up this yummy salad. It requires few ingredients, and is cheap and easy to make. On those muggy summer nights when hot food is unappealing, this dish is a winner.

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cups wax (also known as yellow) beans
1 cucumber, peeled
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2-3 chopped scallions
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (get the kind with the “Mother”)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Make the marinade by combining mustard, turbinado sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir vigorously and set aside. Meanwhile, slice the wax beans sideways along the seam, then chop into 3-4 shorter pieces. Lightly steam the beans for 2-3 minutes until they are al dente, but not hard or mushy.

Place the beans into a large bowl. Peel the cucumbers and slice into rounds. Be sure to compost or eat the skin! Chop each round into 3-4 smaller pieces and add to bowl with beans. Toss in the chopped onion, chopped scallions, and marinade. Stir all of the ingredients together and allow them to marinate for 1-2 hours. You can either marinate them on your counter or in the refrigerator, depending upon your preference.

Drain any excess fluid from the salad by placing it into a colander inside your sink. Toss the salad and transfer to a smaller bowl. You can add an endless variety of garnishes for a festive touch –cracked pepper is good, or mint sprigs, diced sage leaves, or fresh, chopped basil, or anything that appeals to you and your guests. Get creative!

This deceptively simple but delicious salad is great as a side dish with a protein-packed, vegan main such as fried tempeh. It’s also delicious with other, more robust sides like gluten-free bread, brown rice, or quinoa. Serves 2-3 people, but feel free to increase the size of the recipe if you have more guests. Gotta use up those beans and cucumbers! You’d better enjoy the waning days of summer, because autumn is just around the corner.

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Baba Ghanoush — Naturally Vegan, and a Cinch to Prepare!

You’ve most likely had hummus, but have you tried its sweeter, lighter cousin, baba ghanoush? Baba ghanoush is a lot like hummus, since it has a tahini base. However, instead of adding garbanzo beans, this recipe utilizes roasted eggplant. The result is equally delicious. Our light but zesty meal is easy to make, and perfect for warm summer nights. You can serve it with gluten-free pita bread or with gluten-free toast points sprinkled with thyme, olive oil or vegan butter, and a bit of granulated garlic. We feel confident that you’ll love this dish either way.

INGREDIENTS

1 medium-sized eggplant
2-3 cloves minced garlic
juice of one large lemon
4 tablespoons tahini
sea salt to taste
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped cilantro, parsley or basil (We used basil, yum!)
small amount of water

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS

roasted gluten-free pita bread
regular gluten-free bread
chopped thyme
chopped garlic or garlic salt
olive oil or vegan margarine/butter such as Earth Balance
sliced vegetables such as carrots, celery, zucchini, green or red peppers, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch rounds and place in a large, flat pan or cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and olive oil and broil in oven for 5-10 minutes. Watch carefully so the slices don’t burn! They should be pulpy and slightly browned. Peel skin from eggplant and either eat, compost, or discard.

Cut the eggplant pulp into small pieces and place in a blender or food processor. Add the tahini, a dash of sea salt, herbs, lemon juice, and combine thoroughly. If your mixture is too thick, add a bit of water until it becomes creamy and smooth. Pour into a bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Serve with sliced vegetables of your choice, and gluten-free bread or toast points. To make toast points, slather bread with a liberal amount of olive oil or vegan butter/margarine. Sprinkle with chopped thyme and granulated garlic. Broil in oven until the toast is brown and slightly crispy around the edges. Cut the toast in half and serve!

This recipe serves 2-3 people. If you have more guests, feel free to increase ingredient portions accordingly. Great as either a main or a side dish. Get creative! You can add falafels, hummus, or other Middle Eastern cuisine to make a larger meal. Keeps well in your refrigerator for several days. Homemade baba ghanoush is so much more delicious than the store-bought variety! Once you’ve prepared this version, we feel confident you’ll agree.

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Peach Cobbler Tastes Great When It’s Vegan and Gluten-Free!

Is it even summer without peach cobbler? We don’t think so! When temperatures are hot and peaches are ripe, what’s an enterprising chef to do? The traditional recipe calls for large amounts of butter and white sugar, but you won’t miss the rich taste when you bite into our more subtle, but equally delicious version. This cobbler is inexpensive and incredibly easy to make. You can either peel the peaches or leave the peels on. We made our recipe with peels because that’s the way we roll. The peels become soft and pliable during the baking process. Also, they’re packed with vitamins, so it seems a shame to just toss them out. You’re going to love this recipe. We guarantee it!

PEACH INGREDIENTS

5 large peaches, cut into thin wedges
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

DRY INGREDIENTS

1 cup gluten-free flour blend (We used Bob’s Red Mill, excellent!)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 tablespoons tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch of sea salt (not the iodized variety)

WET INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup plant-based milk (coconut or almond work best)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

Arrange the sliced peaches in a square baking pan. Sprinkle them with the two tablespoons of sugar, cinnamon, and fresh lemon juice. Allow the mixture to marinate for a few moments as you prepare the other ingredients. Mix the dry ingredients together until they’re thoroughly combined. Add vanilla extract and plant-based milk gradually, stirring continuously to make sure no lumps form. Batter should be smooth and creamy.

Pour the batter over the top of the peaches, spreading evenly. Don’t worry if the peaches aren’t completely covered. Bake in pre-heated, 375 degree oven for 35-45 minutes. The batter should form a nice crust that will attain a lovely golden brown color. Remove from oven and set on your counter to cool. But don’t let it cool too much — this dessert is best served hot!

Serves 4-6 people with ease. Your peach cobbler is sure to be a hit. You can serve it as is, or with a scoop (or two, or three) of vegan ice cream such as Coconut Bliss. (Our personal favorite is the coconut flavor. It’s perfect for this dessert). This dish keeps well in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. We have been known to enjoy leftover cobbler for breakfast. Shhhhhhhh — don’t tell anyone! You’re just going to have to try this dessert for yourself, and then you’ll know why we love it so much. Happy summer!

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Corn, Tomato, and Cannellini Bean Salad is a Cold But Nourishing Summer Meal

When the weather is this hot, who feels like cooking? On the other hand, we tire easily in the heat and need nourishment more than ever. Such a conundrum! Fortunately, we have discovered a recipe that is incredibly simple and quick to make. The entire process takes about fifteen minutes! You’ll love the delightful simplicity of this delicious, protein-rich meal. The addition of gluten-free garlic/sage toast makes it more filling. Great for potlucks or a quick at-home meal.

SALAD INGREDIENTS

1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans (also called “white beans”)
2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half (try different colors for a visual sensation!)
1 ear fresh sweet corn
large handful of fresh basil, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

TOAST INGREDIENTS

Olive oil or vegan butter/margarine such as Earth Balance
8-10 pieces of gluten-free bread
1-2 tablespoons fresh sage, shredded and chopped (remove those stems!)
2-3 minced cloves of fresh garlic, or garlic salt to taste (make sure salt is not iodized)

SALAD INSTRUCTIONS

Drain beans thoroughly and pour into a large mixing bowl. Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the corn cob and add to bowl. Add the cherry tomatoes, shredded basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste with sea salt (not the iodized variety!) and fresh ground black pepper. Toss the mixture until it’s thoroughly combined. Cover the bowl and place it in your refrigerator for 1-2 hours until chilled enough to eat.

TOAST INSTRUCTIONS

Slather 8-10 pieces of gluten-free bread with vegan butter or margarine, or drizzle with olive oil. Place the bread on a cookie sheet and sprinkle dried sage on top. Add minced garlic or garlic salt to taste. Place the cookie sheet in oven at low broil setting. Broil for 2-3 minutes until bread is brown and slightly crispy around the edges. Do not burn! Remove from oven and allow excess oil to drain. Cut bread in half and arrange artfully on a plate.

Spread liberal amounts of salad across your toast and dig in! You’ll be in heaven, and your guests will be, too. This nourishing dish serves 4-6 people, depending on everyone’s appetite levels. Be sure to hydrate with fresh water! Of course, there’s always room for gluten-free, vegan beer or wine, if that’s your sort of thing. And maybe some fresh gazpacho! (See last week’s recipe). Happy summer! Have fun and stay cool in the heat.

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Nothing Says Summer Like Strawberry Gazpacho!

Cold soup is manna to your throat on a hot summer day. When the outdoor temperatures soar, appetites often plummet. However, you don’t want sunshine to cause you to sacrifice good eating or proper nutrition! This vegan, gluten-free recipe is incredibly easy to make (and inexpensive!), and you won’t have to spend hours slaving over a hot stove. The addition of strawberries to the traditional gazpacho recipe makes the dish sweet and extra-zesty. You can top the soup with gluten-free croutons and/or sliced strawberries if you’d like to get fancy. Here’s how:

SOUP INGREDIENTS
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (We used red. Any color will do).
1 cup chopped cucumber, peeled
2 cups chopped strawberries
1-2 cloves chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable broth (make sure it’s wheat-free!)
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

CROUTON INGREDIENTS
3-4 slices gluten free bread, chopped into cubes
3-4 springs thyme, chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, chopped
olive oil for pan (about 1 tablespoon)

SOUP INSTRUCTIONS

Place all soup ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend on medium setting until thoroughly combined. If mixture is too thick, add additional vegetable broth. It should have a nice, creamy consistency and appealing color. That’s really all there is to it! Pour into container, cover securely, and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Serve with croutons and/or additional sprigs of thyme.

CROUTON INSTRUCTIONS

Cut your gluten-free bread into small chunks and dice garlic. Chop the thyme into tiny pieces. Coat the bottom of a small pan with olive oil and fry the garlic until it’s slightly browned. Add the bread cubes and continue frying until they begin to turn brown. Make sure not to burn! Add the thyme and fry for another 2-3 minutes until bread is golden brown and all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Remove bread from pan and allow excess olive oil to drain. Sprinkle croutons and/or sliced strawberries on top of your gazpacho and serve!

This magnificent dish serves 5-6 people. It pairs well with a small salad or an additional loaf of gluten-free bread. For a festive experience, serve outdoors with a pitcher of lemonade, a glass or two of vegan white wine, or a mug of gluten-free beer. Your guests will love this summery meal, and you will, too. It keeps well in the refrigerator for up to four days, but don’t wait that long to consume it! Have a lovely summer, and stay cool!

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All-American Apple Pie That Just Happens to be Gluten-Free and Vegan!

Fourth of July is almost here, and for many folks, this day means barbeques and picnics. Quite a few of us have fond memories of chowing down slice after slice of apple pie. Even if you’re following a vegan, gluten-free diet, you don’t have to miss out on this aspect of the celebration! Our version is beyond delicious. The crust’s rich, buttery flavor comes from coconut oil. We made a lattice-style crust, because we like its visual appeal. You’ll be delighted by this scrumptious delicacy!

PIE INGREDIENTS
5-6 apples, sliced, peeled, and cut into chunks (try a variety of different apples for a flavor kick)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
2/3 cup coconut sugar
4 tablespoons plant-based milk (coconut or almond is best)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon tapioca flour

CRUST INGREDIENTS
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 1/4 cup almond meal (also known as almond flour)
1 1/4 cup gluten-free pastry flour (plus more for rolling)
2/3 cups water

INSTRUCTIONS

Place coconut sugar in 1 tablespoon coconut oil and fry on stovetop until slightly bubbly. Do not burn! Add milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and apples, and continue heating for about 10 minutes. The apples should be a bit soft, but they don’t need to be cooked through. Add tapioca flour and cook for another 1-2 minutes until mixture thickens. Remove from stovetop and set aside.

Prepare crust by combining flours and coconut oil with water. The dough should be pliable but not sticky. Add more flour if the dough adheres to your fingers. Separate dough in half. Grease a pie pan with coconut oil or Earth Balance. Take the first dough section and press it across the entire bottom of the pan, creating a thin and level surface. Press dough around the edges of the pie pan with your fingers. You can tamp down the edges with a fork.

Pour apples into the pie pan, spreading them evenly. Depending on the size of your other dough half, you can either roll out a circle and place it over the top of the pie, or create a lattice crust with long, narrow dough strips. Either way, your pie will look lovely and taste delicious!

Bake in oven at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Cool on countertop, but don’t let it get cold. Apple pie tastes best hot and fresh from the oven! Serve as is, or with some vegan ice cream or whipping cream. Serves 4-6, and if you have leftovers, they’ll keep in your refrigerator for several days. Happy Independence Day!

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Vegan, Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Casserole is Delicious Any Time of Year!

When we think of sweet potatoes, we usually envision Thanksgiving dinner. However, this vitamin-packed, naturally sweet vegetable is great during any season. Did you realize that sweet potatoes are high in fiber, and filled with vitamin C, potassium, vitamins B3, B5 and B6, copper and magnesium? They’re one of the most nutritious foods you could ever place inside your mouth. And so good! If you have leftover applesauce, this recipe is a great way to utilize it. You can take this casserole to a Fourth of July potluck as a side dish, or serve it at home with a salad and/or loaf of gluten-free bread. The possibilities are endless! For a festive touch, we used purple sweet potatoes for our recipe, but you can use the more common orange ones, as well.

INGREDIENTS

4 cups sweet potatoes (approximately 4 small or 2 large)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt (NOT the iodized variety)
pinch of ground nutmeg or cloves
1 cup chopped pecans
extra pinch of cinnamon for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

Wrap the sweet potatoes in foil and roast in your oven at 450 degrees for 1 hour until thoroughly soft. Remove from oven and cut in half. Allow the pieces to cool. Scoop the softened portion from the skin and discard or eat the skin. Place sweet potato pulp in blender or food processor with the applesauce and combine thoroughly. Melt the coconut oil in a pan on your stovetop and pour into mixture. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg (or cloves), and salt and continue blending. Your mixture should be smooth and creamy, but not runny.

Ladle the mixture into a square baking pan and sprinkle chopped pecans across the top. Be sure to spread them evenly. Add a sprinkle of extra cinnamon if you desire. Bake in oven at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes until the casserole bubbles slightly around the edges, and the pecans are a dark brown color (but not burned).

Remove from oven and allow to cool on your counter. Serves 4-6 people as a generous side dish. This casserole is so sweet, you can even enjoy it as a dessert! Pairs well with a side of vegetables, salad, brown rice, quinoa, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. If you have leftovers, cover tightly and keep them in the refrigerator. Delicious whether hot or cold! And don’t forget the gluten-free beer or wine. Every day is a reason for celebration! Bon Appetit.

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It’s So Easy to Create Your Own Falafels From Scratch!

We’ve been eating falafels for years, both with pita bread, and without. These crispy disks are delicious served with a variety of vegetables. However, most of the falafels in restaurants are deep-fried, and the ones you make at home are usually products of a powdered mix. Creating this naturally vegan, gluten-free concoction from scratch is surprisingly easy and fun. Real, homemade falafels taste much better than the stuff that comes from a box! Try the recipe, you will be amazed.

INGREDIENTS
1 15-ounce can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped and packed
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped and packed
1/2 cup diced red or yellow onion (red is especially zesty)
1/3 cup gluten-free flour (we used a combination of garbanzo flour and brown rice flour)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum-free, please)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt (not the iodized variety)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup water
olive oil for cooking
Vegetable garnishes, such as chopped tomatoes, sliced avocados, shredded carrots, chopped onion, additional sprigs of parsley and cilantro, lettuce, etc.
Gluten-free pita bread (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Pour chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, chopped onion, flour, lemon juice, water, baking powder, garlic, and spices into blender or food processor. Combine thoroughly until mixture is thick and creamy, but not stiff. You can add more water if it’s too thick, or more flour if it’s too runny. Pour into large bowl and cover. Place bowl in refrigerator and chill for approximately 1 hour. It should achieve a nice thickness by then.

Remove falafel mix from refrigerator and heat olive oil on stovetop. Your burner setting should be medium high, but not so hot that it will smoke or burn. Scoop rounded tablespoons of falafel mix from bowl and drop into hot olive oil, one at a time. Fry them until they’re slightly crispy and brown around the edges, then flip and fry the other sides. Remove from heat and set on napkin so excess oil will drain away.

Serve with vegetables and toppings such as hummus, baba ghanoush, plain coconut yogurt, or tahini with lemon juice. Great either as a sandwich or a salad. Feel free to experiment! Serves 3-4 hungry people. Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen for later. These falafels are great in lunchboxes! You’ll never want to make them from a box, ever again, and neither will any of the members of your family. Enjoy!

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