Food Truck Falafel vs Gourmet Dining Falafel

Falafel is an Israeli dish that is often served in a pita or laffa. But it can also be served separately as an appetizer or even as a snack, so basically you can eat it anywhere, at any time. You take fava beans and ground chickpeas and shape them into a ball, patty, or a doughnut and then deep fry them.

I learned that buying them from a food truck is actually better than the gourmet style types, but this is a personal preference. OK, I will admit that the Food Truck Falafel is probably not as healthy as the Gourmet Style which is why I probably like it more. In general, falafel can be a healthy food but are you really going to eat at a food truck and expect seriously healthy food?

The way the numbers work out is that depending on where you get your falafel from and the number of toppings you choose, it can be a whale of calories. Gourmet Dining Falafel places are far more likely to be careful with your calorie counts because they want you to come back. But remember the most important nutritional fact about falafels – they are deep fried.

Even foods that are not Jewish and are dropped into a vat of grease are generally said to be no good for you. Think about French Fries. All they are is sliced up potatoes submerged in grease, yet they are so tasty! Here are these harmless fava beans and chickpeas and all of a sudden this is bad for you because they are deep fried?

OK, enough of my personal preferences. Here are the numbers on the falafel and why you should exercise some modicum of restraint before loading them up with all the toppings.

One 3.5 ounce serving of a deep-fried falafel, plain without toppings or laffa, has roughly 330 calories. There are 31 grams of carbohydrates that go with it, along with 17.5 grams of fat, 13 grams of protein and 294 mgs of sodium (salt). Almost half of its calories come from fat if deep friend normally (meaning it will taste great). You can substitute olive oil or canola oil for cooking, but don’t expect that at a truck food stop! The truth is, nutrition experts cringe at the amount of salt in an average falafel – almost an entire day’s worth in an entire falafel.

So if I am to be fair and objective in comparing the two, it will actually depend more on whether you are someone who prefers to eat healthy. I like to think I eat healthy – and there are times I prefer not to. Falafels from a truck stop with lots of toppings are one of those times. If you are a weight or cholesterol watcher, you are likely to prefer the gourmet style option because you can inquire as to exactly what they cook it in and how it is prepared. I doubt a truck stop is likely to change the cooking oil in their deep fryer every hour, but that may be exactly what makes the truck stop food so tasty!

How to Make Great Israeli Couscous

I live here in sunny Southern California. As many people know, there are two Californias. I live in the warmer locale. One of the great things about America is the enormous variety of food that can be found here. My favorite food is Israeli because of the many ingredients they use to make some of the tastiest dishes to be found anywhere! So I hope to share with you some of my secrets and knowledge to make you more knowledgeable and comfortable with the best of Israeli cuisine!

This means that I enjoy cooking and employing tried and true techniques to make the food taste better. Let’s start with couscous. It is a staple in Israel and it is in the Middle East. This means there are variations on a theme. It is a type of ground wheat semolina pasta, not grains, a solid base that can be pepped up with all kinds of exotic flavors. Israeli and Moroccan couscous are not exactly alike.

I love the scene in the movie, Pineapple Express, when one character exclaims, “Couscous, the food so nice, they named it twice.” Not sure which variety he was mentioning. Interestingly enough, the Israeli version of the semolina is larger in terms of the granule size, maybe as big as small pearls. It uses a toasting process rather than the drying technique preferred in Morocco. They both end up being cooked in boiling water.

Water is an important element in cooking any dish and we usually take it for granted. However, chemicals and impurities can taint its taste and affect the outcome of the couscous flavor. No one wants to eat toxins in any case. Israeli semolina pasta is known for its nutty flavor and more chewy texture. Why not get the most of it by using filtered water from one of these machines. Yes, you heard me. It doesn’t have to be bottled water from the fridge. You can install a simple system on the kitchen faucet. This is my first and most important tip.

The next is to add salt to the water to draw out the inherent taste. It is easy and fun to make Israeli couscous and it tastes so good with almost anything added. Some people like vegetable or chicken broth. I suggest trying each one and judging for yourself. Meanwhile, the couscous should be light and fluffy. If it is gummy, you cooked it for too long. You will have to start over.

You can add diced vegetables as you like, chunks of lamb or chicken, and nuts. Israeli couscous makes a great sweet with cinnamon and milk. I like to experiment and make it a different way all the time.