Being on the road most of the time now – Matt, Otis and I are doing the big lap around Australia in our RV – means I’m always looking for healthy and portable foods that we can all enjoy in the car i.e.: eat one-handed with minimal mess or at a roadside playground/picnic, which makes these baked sprouted falafels just perfect.
I love falafels but always find them a bit too dry and crumbly, especially if they’ve been deep fried. These use sprouted lentils and chickpeas in place of dried chickpeas (as is traditional) and are baked which means the end result is one that’s more nutritious, moist and delicious. These sprouted falafels make a great addition to your kid’s lunchbox, as a complete food providing them with much needed protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats and one handy little portion. They’re also a good way to add some mild spices to your babies repotoire when you start introducing solids. However, if you ate these spices while pregnant and breastfeeding, then your little one will already be familiar with the taste.
I’m using sprouted lentils and chickpeas in this recipe for the added health benefits but you could easily replace these with tinned chickpeas and lentils for convenience sake – I’ve made both and the end result is similar, but the tinned option makes for a wetter mix and may need a little less time in the initial processing. What you see pictured are the sprouted version.
SO WHY SPROUT?
Sprouting essentially starts the germination process in grains, nuts, legumes, seeds or beans, which makes them easier to digest and increases their nutrient availability. By starting this germination process they essentially become living things again and make even more vitamins and minerals in the process – cool huh?! All of these are great reasons to sprout when it comes to feeding little people and their developing digestive systems.
One of the biggest benefits of sprouting is that it helps to decrease the amount of phytic acid or phytates – otherwise known as anti-nutrients. Phytates are naturally occurring compounds that are found in all plant seeds that play a protective role within the plants themselves by warding off pests and preventing a seed from sprouting until it’s ready to mature. When we eat them, phytates inhibit our digestive enzymes and interfere with our ability to absorb their goodness. Phytic acid also binds to minerals making them unavailable for absorption in our intestines. I chat a bit more about “activating” nuts over here – it’s the same thing.
Bigger kids will have fun making these and watching the little tails on their sprouts grow everyday. It’s so important to get kids in to the kitchen and involved in the preparation of our food and really does encourage more willingness to try new foods – I talk more about this, and how to prevent and overcome fussy eaters, here.
HOW DO I SPROUT?
- Place your legumes, seeds, nuts or beans and a dash of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) in a large wide-mouthed jar and cover with filtered water – generally this is 1 part seed to 6 parts water.
- Secure a piece of muslin or cheesecloth or nylon netting over the moth of the jar with a rubber band. Don’t leave too much material to over hang, as this may encourage fungus to grow and contaminate your sprouts
- Leave to soak for 12-hours or overnight, away from direct sunlight.
- Drain your mix by pouring the water out through the cloth covering the jar.
- Keeping the cloth covering on the jar, rinse and then drain again.
- Invert your jar at angle (away from direct sunlight) – I do this on a dish drying rack.
- Repeat the rinse and drain process twice a day for the next 2-3 days until your sprouts begin to grow little tails. Taste your sprouts at every rinse!
- When ready, remove the cloth covering and rinse and drain your new sprouts really well. Then store in an airtight container in the fridge for several days – they are alive and will continue to grow!
- Please don’t waste the rinsing water – use it to water your plants (or wash the pets).
- Approximately 1 cup of dry seed grows into 3 cups of sprouted seed, so start out with just a few spoonfuls of dry seeds.
- Chickpeas and lentils both take around 1-2 days to sprout, so you can combine them both in the same sprouting jar.
- When buying your seeds try to buy Australian seeds as seeds from another country may not always sprout. When they come through customs they go through processes to kill any bugs they may have been hiding in the seeds. This process sometimes kills the life, goodness and nutrition in the seed and when this happens, it will not sprout.
BAKED SPROUTED LENTIL & CHICKPEA FALAFELS
Makes: 12-15 – Prep time: 10 mins – Cook time: 25 mins
- 1 bunch fresh coriander (green part only, keep the roots and freeze them to use later in my lentil Dahl)
- 2-3 Tbsp macadamia oil (or olive oil)
- 1 onion, cut in to quarters
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp ground cumin
- 1 Tbsp ground coriander
- 1 cup lentil sprouts
- 1 cup chickpea sprouts
- 1 “chia egg” – 1 Tbsp chia seeds soaked in 2 Tbsp water (to make a gel)
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat over to 160’C and line a baking sheet or oven dish with baking paper
- To a food processor add the coriander, garlic and macadamia oil and process until you have a pesto paste
- Add the onion and process until finely diced
- Add the remaining ingredients and process until combined – it’s up to you how much you blend here, I like to have a few lentils still whole, but you can process more than this to create a much finer mix
- Roll tablespoons of the mix in to balls and place on your baking try – use your fingers to flatten slightly to form more of a pattie
- Cook for 15 minutes and then turn your falafels over and cook for a further 10 minutes, until golden brown
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few days or freeze