Cultivating a wholehearted life is not like trying to reach a destination. It’s like walking toward a star in the sky. We never really arrive, but we certainly know that we’re heading in the right direction. ~Brené Brown
At some point in life, you begin to realize that everything is a journey. I lived in Madrid for a while in college, and my heart pined after becoming fluent in Spanish. After the semester was over, I realized fluency was not so much an arrival, but a place on a sliding scale. Was I fluent? I certainly didn’t feel it, but I could make my way around. I realized then that fluency would be a lifelong process, and whether I was really “there” would be different based on how I viewed myself or how I was viewed by others around me.
This concept seems to hold true for many skills or roles we have in life. I’m certainly much further along on the journey of cooking and eating than when we started dabbling seven years ago, but I’m still overwhelmed by how much there is to learn. So instead of chasing after “I can cook” or “I eat healthy”, at this point in life I’m content with simply walking towards those places.
And with those baby steps, we’re inching forward. Case in point: we’ve made countless failed falafel recipes over the past five years, so many that we stopped even trying. Falafel is one of my favorite foods (get some here if you’re even in Paris), but I had resigned to only eating it at restaurants. We decided to try one more time the other day with some baked falafel, and miraculously, it worked! Of the many variables, we found dried, soaked chickpeas for the dough holds together much better than canned. The baked version doesn’t taste quite like the decadence of fried falafel, but the flavor and texture work in this bowl version. We enjoyed this with some dear friends the other night (check their blog here) and it was delicious. It’s a great option to please vegetarian, vegan (with our substitution dressing below), and gluten-free diets.
Cheers to you on your own journeys, whatever they may be…
PS Do you know Brené Brown’s work? I’m a huge fan and am reading The Gifts of Imperfection now, which is where I found the quote above. The tagline of the book is spot on: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Our philosophies of embracing whole foods and cooking eating mesh well with her work on wholeheartedness and vulnerability.
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ large or 1 small red onion
- 1 ½ cups dried chickpeas
- ½ cup fresh parsley
- ½ cup fresh cilantro
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ cayenne pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (do not substitute table salt)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ head large red cabbage
- 1 cucumber
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 12 to 16 cups lettuce or salad greens
- Soak chickpeas at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375F.
- Peel 4 cloves garlic; place them in the bowl of a food processor and process until fully chopped. Peel the onion and cut it into rough chunks; add to the bowl and process again until fully chopped. To the bowl, add soaked chickpeas, ½ cup fresh parsley, ½ cup fresh cilantro, ½ teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon ground coriander, ¼ cayenne pepper, 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Process until smooth and a dough comes together, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. To form the falafel patties, take a few tablespoons of dough, roll it into a ball between your palms, then pat it flat. Try to keep the patties as uniform as possible to have a similar thickness. Bake the patties for 24 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- While the patties bake, make the dressing (Creamy Cilantro Dressing below, or this plant-based option).
- Thinly slice the red cabbage and cucumber. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Clean the salad greens.
- To serve, place greens in a large bowl. Top with falafel patties, cabbage, cucumber, and tomatoes. Drizzle with dressing and serve.
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
- 1½ tablespoons tahini
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons water
- Peel the garlic cloves. Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.