Easy Low Carb Crispy Falafel. 6g net carbs per serving (3 falafel). NUT-FREE, DAIRY-FREE and NO CAULIFLOWER in sight.
Using a chickpea substitute that mimics the flavour and texture without the carb load sounds like utopia. But it’s real. None of my tasters were able to tell that chickpeas were absent. These fritters are very, very tasty and truly authentic. In fact, I would go as far as saying that they’re better than all previous falafel I’ve ever eaten.
So now you’re thinking that making a low carb falafel without using cauliflower, mushrooms, broccoli, or other veggie substitute cannot be possible. Well, I had to rack my brain trying to figure out a way to avoid compromising the result with mushy vegetables. The solution I found has made it truly possible. With sensational results.
Legumes: Good or Bad?
Falafel is a super popular Middle Eastern dish. Think Israel and street food, and falafel is what immediately comes to mind. Based on spiced mashed chickpeas or broad (fava) beans, these little balls of deliciousness are simply irresistible. But sadly not particularly suitable to the keto lifestyle, due to the high carbohydrate content of these nutrient-rich legumes.
My low-carb falafel consist, primarily, of LUPINS. These delicious, earthy, neutral-flavoured seeds are an exception to the rule. Belonging to the same family (Fabaceae) as peanuts, they are truly ONE OF A KIND. More protein than any other legume, lots of B Vitamins, tons of minerals, high pre-biotic fibre and virtually no starch. Because they’re naturally pest-resistant and easy to grow, they don’t require chemicals, pesticides, or genetic modifications. They are simply UNIQUE and IDEAL for the clean-keto lifestyle.
Now. I know many low-carb/keto/paleo followers will balk at the idea of eating a legume. The reason being that legumes are generally demonised for their anti-nutrients, such as saponins, phytic acid and lectins. They sound scary, don’t they? But they’re in every plant food, including nuts and seeds. Yes, legumes have a higher concentration of them. But providing you don’t eat them raw and don’t consume huge quantities of them every day (vegetarians and vegans beware!), they do no harm. They are, and have been for centuries, staple foods in many thriving cultures around the world.
As long as you eat a varied diet that includes meat, and you eat legumes in moderation, there’s no reason to be scared of them. Truthfully, unless you have specific intolerances or allergies, health issues or enzyme deficiencies, legumes – except soy, aren’t a bad thing. Quite the opposite. If you’re unsure, read THIS, enjoy your legumes, but treat them as an occasional indulgence.
How To Make Easy Low Carb Crispy Falafel without Chickpeas
In my recipe I use hemp seed hearts and lupin flour to add bulk and minimise the amount of legumes involved. Both of those ingredients have an earthy flavour that’s very similar to chickpeas, so they combine extremely well. And are relatively easy to source.
Lupin seeds have forever been a staple food in Italy, where they grow in abundance. You will find them, pre-cooked and ready to eat, in every Italian grocery shop. Unfortunately, they’re not so easy to source in other countries. Sometimes they’re available on Amazon. Otherwise, head to an Italian delicatessen and you should find them. I am lucky to have a friend in Italy who sends me supplies when I need them (thank you, Stefano!).
Can’t get lupins? Peanut allergy? You CAN use chickpeas instead. I have tested my falafel with both lupin seeds and chickpeas. In terms of flavour and consistency, the result is virtually identical. Although the chickpea option is higher in carbs (3 falafel = 9.5g instead of 6g), it isn’t prohibitively so. Stick to ONE serving (3 falafel), use common sense, and adjust your other foods for the day so as not to exceed your daily carb limit. Happy days.
You will need my pumpkin seeds QK tahini, which takes minutes to make (1g net carbs per 100g) or use an alternative, but check carbs first and adjust macros accordingly.
The method is super easy. Whizz in a food processor. Shape your falafels. Pan-fry in butter + extra virgin olive oil (this combo creates maximum crispiness and perfect caramelisation).
Voilà. Easy low carb crispy falafel with a moist and slightly crumbly interior. Just like the real thing. Only better and healthier.
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- Yield: 12 falafels (4 servings)
- Serving: 3 falafels
- Calories: 288
- Fat: 18.5g
- Net Carbs: 6g
- Protein: 23g
- 230g hulled lupin seeds - net weight after removing waxy skin - U.S. option HERE (see recipe notes for chickpeas alternative)
- 1 large egg (60g)
- 50g QK pumpkin seed tahini
- ½ tsp fine Himalayan pink salt (heaped) (U.S. option HERE)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp harissa spice
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 40g lupin flour (U.S. option HERE or world-wide delivery option HERE - use discount code QUEENKETO5 at checkout)
- 60g hemp seed hearts (U.S. option HERE)
- 10g (a handful) of fresh chopped parsley
- 25g salted butter
- 15g extra virgin olive oil (U.S. option HERE)
- unless already hulled, remove waxy outer skin from lupins.
- place them in a food processor (I use THIS, U.S. option HERE) with egg, tahini, salt and spices, and whizz until well combined.
- transfer the mixture into a mixing bowl and incorporate sifted baking powder, lupin flour, parsley and hemp seed hearts.
- wearing food-safe disposable gloves - U.S. option HERE (essential - the mixture will be quite sticky), form 12 equal size balls and flatten them a little; place on a plate or tray lined with non-stick baking paper, wrap with cling film and leave to rest on the counter for 30 minutes.
- in a medium frying pan, heat butter and oil over medium high setting; when the fat starts foaming and sizzling, add your falafels and cook them until caramelised - about 3 minutes each side.
- serve hot or cold with a side salad or a Greek yoghurt and cucumber dip.
Wrap cooked falafel in cling film and freeze, or keep refrigerated for up to 4 days. Best re-heated in a pan with butter and olive oil.
The only way to ensure accurate measurement of ingredients is with Metric Kitchen Scales. Click HERE for the ones I use, or HERE for U.S. alternative.