Many readers of this blog won’t know much about what I do during the work day. When I’m not baking, photographing or training, I do sit in an office. Believe it or not, I am almost as passionate about human resources as I am about food. Almost! In particular: the study of organizational behaviour and how employee wellness, engagement and self-awareness are reflected in an individual’s performance and output. I admit… I’m one of those cliche advocates, ranting about the importance of a healthy lifestyle in order to get the most out of work and, well, life.
Fortunately, I have been able to have an outlet for this passion, with the opportunity to share on our company website some articles that encourage employee wellness. I started a series called Fuelled for Work where I post nutritious recipes for the office including paperbag lunches and healthful snacks.
This was the first recipe I posted, offering an alternative to the humble sandwich. These Sweet Potato Falafels were a hit at my small cafe up north and I always served them wrapped in a homemade roti and accompanied by a Greek lentil salad like this one. The falafel recipe is an adaptation of one that My New Roots created. The falafels are so simple to whip up in a blender or food processor, and offer a nutritious, affordable lunch that is quick to prepare at the start of the week and easy to transport to work. Roast the sweet potato in advance before whizzing with chickpeas and spices, scoop into balls and bake until golden.
Sweet Potato Falafels
2 medium sweet potatoes
½ cup oats
1 can chick peas/white beans
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
2 small cloves of garlic, chopped
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
2 big handfuls of fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper
½ cup sesame seeds
1. Preheat the oven to 425F and place a roasting dish in the oven while pre-heating.
2. Dice the sweet potatoes and toss into hot roasting dish with a splash of olive oil. Roast until just tender – 20 to 30 minutes depending on size. Turn the oven off until needed to bake falafels (or bake something else in it in the meantime).
3. In a food processor, whizz the oats until they become a flour. Add the chickpeas (or white beans) and whizz until well mashed, scraping down the sides. Add the garlic, coriander, fresh cilantro, lemon juice and finally the sweet potato. Season well, and pulse until well combined – there will be some chunks remaining. Alternatively, place all ingredients in a large bowl and mash with a potato masher until well blended. Leave in the fridge to firm up for an hour. When you take it out, your mix should be quite sticky. Add some more ground oats if mix seems too wet to handle.
4. Reheat oven to 400F. Using a couple of soup spoons (or a cookie scoop), scoop out balls of falafel and press each one gently in sesame seeds. Place on a tray lined with parchment paper and bake for around 15 minutes, until the seeds are golden brown. Serve on a spinach salad or wrapped in a pita, drizzled with tzatziki.