Butternut Falafel Bowls
We hope you all had the most wonderful Christmas, that was filled with all the love and joy that Christmas tends to bring. Don’t for a second think we didn’t have a nap on the couch post-feasting, but we’ve finally recovered and are ready to tackle our post food coma blues. We thought we’d still keep our recipe comforting, but start introducing some healthy greens and give our guts a little festive boost.
Butternuts are our favourite all year round and are such a versatile vegetable that we couldn’t stop ourselves from giving in to their bright colour and create little summertime bursts of sunshine on our plate. Butternut or otherwise referred to as butternut squash is actually a member of the gourd family, which consists of pumpkin, melon, and even cucumber. What we found more interesting though, is that these large gems are actually considered a fruit – because they contain seeds. But cut into their pale hard skin and you’ll find a firm and a nutrient dense interior that far surpasses that of its relatives. Many may see this vegetable as one you should only consume during colder months because generally, one would accompany it with spices such as cinnamon and more comforting, earthy flavours. But flavour profiles can be changed, and because butternuts are readily available to South Africans all year round, it’s easy to adapt it to suit any seasonal bowl.
Butternuts are filled with phytonutrients or plant-derived chemical substances, which are mostly known for their ability to reduce inflammation in the body. A little fact I just learnt – plants have 64 times more antioxidants than animal food, which helps your body fight off those cancer-causing free radicals. Butternuts keep you fuller for longer, because of their low-calorie count, but high fibre content and can help optimize the digestive process and relieve problems such as bloating. If, like me, you struggle with IBS you know bloating is one of the main issues we struggle over the festive season, when one little indulgence leads to the next, and next thing you know you have a stomach the size of a balloon, butternuts help counter the effects of bloating by soothing the digestive tract.
That over indulgence extends to alcohol too occasionally and we all find ourselves reaching for the rehydrate we stocked up on just before the festive season began. Our bodies need enough electrolytes to regulate the water balance between cells, modulate blood pressure, and stimulate muscle contraction and send nerve impulses. Potassium, calcium, and magnesium work together within the body for proper control of these essential processes and all three minerals are found in good quantities within butternut squash, so maybe instead of the immediate relief of a rehydrate this season, try balancing out the minerals in your body before heading out the night before, to ensure your body is better equipped to deal.
We added some turmeric in for good measure to help with liver support and aid in digestion. Curcumin, the compound found in turmeric, is one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatories and helps lower inflammation in the digestive tract. We added pickled beetroot and ginger, to help our gut along. While regular store-bought pickled ginger and beetroot may contain stabilisers and sugars that detract from the many health benefits pickled foods offer, making your own is simple enough – and you’ll know exactly whats being packed into that little jar of goodness. Pickling foods is a form of fermentation, and eating pickles of all varieties help your body to digest food by directly “feeding” your digestive system. Pickled foods contain healthy bacteria (probiotics), native yeasts and digestive enzymes together this helps stabilise and create a healthy gut flora, and having a healthy gut flora helps in avoiding those annoying IBS symptoms we often feel after the festive season.
We always try to be conscious and mindful of what we eat, no matter the season or time of year. But sometimes things get a little out of control, and we need to check ourselves and make sure we’re supporting our bodies functionality as best we can. Try and opt for healthier and whole foods as often as you can this festive season, and continually support your body by providing with foods that will help it heal if you know you’ve put yourself on the naughty list this festive season. Feel free to keep adding bits and bobs to your bowl, being adventurous with add-ins and flavours, we’ve even thought about topping it off with some of our Easy Vegan Tzatziki, or leftover baba ganoush from our Sides that Shouldn’t be Sidelined, so don’t feel like your options are limited, try and eat the rainbow and you should be good to go!
Makes 12-15 falafels
- 1 Medium sized Butternut, peeled and de-seeded
- 1 tin Chickpeas, drained
- 80g Gluten Free Flour
- 40g Bulgar Wheat
- 1tsp Cumin
- 1tsp Dried Chillie Flakes
- 1tsp Turmeric
- 2 Cloves garlic
- 1 Lemon, juiced
- 1/2 Bunch Parsley, stems removed
- Salt and Pepper
- Olive Oil
For the rest of the Bowl (1 Bowl)
- 1/2 Avocado, sliced
- Homemade Pickled Ginger
- Pickled Beetroot
- Pomegranate Rubies
- Handful of Wild Rocket
- Handful of Sesame Seeds
For the Homemade Pickled Ginger
- 200g Fresh Ginger (Baby Ginger if you can find any)
- 1 cup Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1/4 cup Sugar
- 1tsp Salt
- Preheat your oven to 220 degrees Celcius, and prepare a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
- Roughly chop your butternut, adding a small drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20-30 min. Remove once cooked and let cool.
- Add the butternut and all remaining falafel ingredients to a high-speed blender and pulse until fully combined. Add more or less flour as needed. You want the mixture to be sticky but not too wet.
- Using approximately a tablespoon amount, roll into golf ball sized balls and place on your prepared baking sheet.
- Place back in the oven and bake at 220 degrees Celcius, or until firm and golden.
- Remove from the oven and let cool slightly while you prepare the rest of your bowl.
- Start with your bed of rocket, adding a handful of pickled beetroot, ginger and pomegranate rubies. Finish off by adding your butternut falafels and a scatter of sesame seeds.
For the Homemade Pickled Ginger
- Peel your ginger completely. If you have managed to find baby ginger, give it a good scrub, making sure to remove any dirt left on the skin.
- Thinly slice ginger across the grain using a vegetable peeler or mandoline, you want the ginger to be as paper thin as possible.
- Place the ginger in a pot with 2 cups of boiling water and blanch for 5-10min, you’re trying to soften the ginger as much as possible. If using baby ginger, add the peeled ginger to a bowl with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for 5min, uncovered.
- Drain well, then pack ginger into a console/glass jar, making sure your jars are thoroughly washed or, even better, sanitized in boiling water before being used.
- In a small pot bring the rice wine vinegar, sugar, and salt to a simmer, stirring continuously until the sugar is completely dissolved, pour the hot mixture over the ginger in the jars. Place the lids on tightly and let cool at room temperature.
- Refrigerate once cooled. You can start eating your pickled ginger after several hours but can be kept in the fridge for up to 6 months.