Greetings from the Dominican Republic! I hope you’ve seen some of the gorgeous photos I’ve been sharing on my Insta-stories of the beautiful beaches and lush greenery, the quaint villages and the gorgeous healthy food we are eating. Maybe you’ve even missed the usual sightings of Calvin Klein, but are enjoying the frolicking kitties that are at the villa? This is the 18th year I’ve taken a winter trip with the same group of women. There are 8 of us and our friendship continues to be one of the most important components of my self-care routine. The nourishment I get from my relationships is as vital to my well-being as the food I put in my body.
The fresh local fish here is amazing, and I’m enjoying it, but truthfully, I eat very little animal protein at home. It works for me because I focus on nutrient dense vegan options. Whether you include animal products in your diet or not isn’t the best indicator of how healthy the food you’re eating is. Vegan that isn’t done well—-it’s possible to be vegan and even gluten-free while eating a bunch of junk— is actually LESS good of an option than a diet that includes meat, chicken, fish or eggs along with an abundance of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and real whole food. The best diet for YOU is the one that makes YOU feel your best and most vibrant self. It’s the one that is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein, healthy fats, etc. and lacking in empty calories that offer no nutrition. Finding choices that work well for YOU so that you’re able to participate fully in your life is the way to go.
I’ve always loved falafel, but the greasy fried balls haven’t always loved me. It took years for me to take the time to dissect what about them worked well for me and which parts I could alter to still give me the taste I was looking for without the belly ache afterwards. Ingredient by ingredient I addressed my concerns, and then moved on to the cooking method. Baked falafel is healthier than its fried counterpart….and it is possible to have a crunchy outside, yet a tender inside.
Healthy baked falafel is a great option for vegans because it is nutrient dense. It’s also a great option for a Meatless Monday, or for anyone just trying to include more plant-based options into their repertoire because it’s tasty and satisfying.
I’ve been crushing on tahini for quite a while now. (Do you love those halva bliss balls as much as I do?) Some tahini on the inside of these baked falafel keeps them moist. Some tahini for a drizzle on top of the falafel adds flavor plus protein, more healthy fats and calcium. Adding more tahini is a great option all the time because I just love everything about it! There. I said it. Toppings, wraps, and even the falafel themselves can be altered to suit dietary restrictions and tastes…which makes this dish even more appealing in my book.
I’ve loaded up on both physical and emotional nourishment while here in the Dominican. That natural Vitamin D has been a real boost! Perhaps you saw my post on social media asking for your definition of self-care? For me, this is it. A week with my friends where I know that my authentic self can shine. We laugh, we cry, we support, we encourage, and we listen.
Healthy baked falafel will nourish your body, and get something on your calendar that will support and nourish your soul!