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Vegan Pregnancy: Falafels with Lemon-Tahini Sauce and Hummus

By Bec Mills

What’s the first nutrient that comes to mind when you think of pregnancy? Folate? Yes. Well done. Go eat some greens. Folate is a very important vitamin during pregnancy for protection against neural tube defects, but it’s definitely not the only component needed for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Here are the top 5 nutrients I have been mindful of during my plant-based pregnancy and how to incorporate them all into one delicious meal.

Calcium

Super important for bone development and growth, muscle and nerve function, and for preventing blood clots. Get enough (1300mg per day) or get it drawn from your bones without your permission.

Iron

Our iron requirements more than triple during pregnancy to 27mg a day. A healthy supply of iron in our diet supplies enough oxygen to the placenta and can help prevent low birth weight. Bub needs to build a solid supply for those first few months of life and we need a good chunk for ourselves to recover well from birth and replenish those energy levels.

Essential Fatty Acids

1-3mg a day of EFAs are crucial in brain development and healthy eyesight. If eating oily fish 3+ times a week is not your style, then other options such as hemp, flax and chia need to be considered.

Vitamin C

85mg a day not only supports your little one by helping produce collagen and develop strong mental function, but it also keeps your immune system strong during this oh-so-important time to be healthy. Extra bonus prize: vitamin C helps you absorb iron.

Protein

Roughly 70g a day for healthy growth and development of bub and support for your very talented body that’s doing a billion things at once.

Now to get all of those vital nutrients plus more into one, delicious meal!


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Falafels with Lemon Tahini Sauce and Hummus

This dish gets a good chunk of protein from legumes, calcium from tahini, EFAs from hemp and chia seeds, iron from herbs and leafy greens, and vitamin C from citrus and fresh veggies.

Makes 4 servings

What you’ll need:

Falafels:
  • 2 & 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup red onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of fresh coriander/cilantro
  • 2 heaped tbsp of hulled hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup ground chia seeds or flax
  • 2 tbsp of chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • unrefined salt and pepper to season

1) The trick to making falafels is getting the consistency right. Too pasty and they become a ball of mush, too dry and they fall apart. As always, it’s all about balance. Getting the texture of the chickpeas right is where it starts. Pulse them briefly in the food processor so they are roughly chopped and put them aside in a large mixing bowl.

2) Throw the onions, garlic, hemp seeds, lemon juice and herbs into the processor until finely chopped and combined. Add to the bowl along with cumin, flour, chia seeds, salt and pepper.

3) Mix together well. If mixture feels a little wet, add more flour. If it feels a little dry, add some water or veggie stock. You’ll be able to tell when trying to form patties.

4) Scoop mixture into palm of hands and roll into small patties. Place on a lined tray and refrigerate for 20 minutes to set.

5) Pop your falafels into a preheated oven at 200C/390F for 25 minutes then let cool and firm for a further 10 before serving.

Lemon Tahini Sauce:
  • 2 tbsp of tahini
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1.5 tbsp of water (add more if necessary)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • unrefined salt and pepper to season

1) Blitz in blender or food processor until perfect consistency for your taste. You’re gonna want to pour it aaaaallllll over your falafels.

Hummus:
  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp of cumin
  • 1 tbsp of tahini
  • unrefined salt and pepper to season
  • paprika and olive oil to garnish 

Blitz in blender or food processor until smooth. Scoop into bowl or serving plate and drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika.


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Serve falafels, hummus and lemon tahini sauce with a large, fresh salad. Keep it simple. Leafy greens, lots of fresh parsley, cherry tomatoes and lebanese cucumber are my favourites for this dish. The textures and flavours work really well with the other components.

I love serving falafels with lots of sauerkraut and pickles. And if you’re making it a large meal to share, it never goes wrong with a side of roasted, lemon and garlic potatoes. This dish is also amazing stuffed into pita pockets.

Happy, healthy and mindful eating!

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