Sumac Falafel + Tahini Sauce

rena williams wellness

You want a recipe that becomes a lifesaver to your busy workweek. One that doesn’t require a lot of active time to put together and one that can be frozen and kept on hand for a later date.


This falafel recipe delivers on all counts.  


And as an added bonus it’ll keep both your body and health rocking. Yes it’s free from gluten, dairy and the norms you’ve come to expect from me, but the true highlight in this recipe is the spice blend.


Spices pack such a beautiful and powerful health punch. I was intentional with choosing this blend so please do try it out as is. 


I’ve talked at length about turmeric and it’s wonderful anti-inflammatory, digestive health, heart health, anti-aging and antioxidant properties.

Today, I’m highlighting cumin, sumac and nigella. Like turmeric, these three spices have incredible health benefits, like reducing inflammation and supporting healthy immunity. There are recent studies exploring their impact on promoting weight loss, diabetes and increasing insulin sensitivity, heart disease, reducing cholesterol and anticancer activities. 


If sumac and nigella are spices that are new to you, they’re worth a trip to your spice store or an online purchase. You can find both online here or here.


Now about that recipe.


Tossed in a pita, tortilla or collard wrap, falafel can be super versatile. With the chickpeas + tahini, you're getting a good amount of protein. And let’s talk about sesame seeds for a moment. One of the best plant-based sources of calcium. These little seeds have more calcium, gram for gram, than either milk or cheese. 


Now I leave you to make this midweek lifesaver. Share with me in the comments below your favourite way to enjoy falafel. 

rena williams wellness
rena williams wellness
rena williams wellness

Sumac Falafel

makes approx. 26 falafel


3 cups (28 oz) garbanzo beans, cooked, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup spaghetti squash, cooked (any other cooked winter squash will work)

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

1 tsp baking powder

3 Tbsp garbanzo or garfava flour

1 1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt

2 tsp cumin seeds, ground

1 tsp nigella seeds, ground

1 tsp sumac

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp black pepper, ground

extra virgin olive oil for brushing


How to:

  • Add chickpeas to food processor. Pulse about 6 or 7 times until coarsely chopped, scraping down sides of the bowl as you go 
  • Transfer chickpeas to a mixing bowl and set aside
  • Add all other remaining ingredients to food processor. Process on high until finely chopped
  • Add herb paste to chickpeas and mix together until well blended
  • Set aside covered in the fridge for a least 1 hour up to overnight* 
  • When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400F
  • Taking one spoonful of batter, roll into a ball and place on a baking sheet
  • Continue until all batter is formed in balls on baking sheet
  • Lightly brush each falafel with olive oil
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, until beginning to brown
  • Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving
  • Serve in a salad, pita, wrap, or veggie bowl topped with Tahini Sauce
  • Enjoy


*This recipe really sings if you give the batter a chance to rest. The flavours meld together giving it a much richer taste


Tip: Falafel (and it’s batter) freezes well. Will keep properly stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. 


Tahini Sauce

makes approx. 3/4 cup


1/4 cup sesame tahini

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

3 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed

1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt

1 tsp maple syrup

1/2 tsp sumac

1 tsp lemon rind


How to:

  • Except for lemon rind, add all ingredients to a high powered blender. Blend until smooth
  • Transfer to a glass container and stir in lemon rind
  • Serve with falafel
  • Will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days 

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables + a Giveaway

balsamic roasted vegetables

I remember when I first fell upon Meghan’s website.  It was right after I’d fully stepped into trying to be healthier with my food choices. Making smoothies almost daily, adding more plants to my plate and the like. I had decided on a whim that I was going to do a raw (read: cold) food challenge. For one month. During February (read: coldest month of the year here in Canada). It wasn’t one of my wiser decisions, but I worked it out. :)


About 2 weeks in, I read somewhere that Demi Moore ate only 75% raw and I was like, ‘ohmygosh, I have options.' So needless to say, the last few weeks of my month-long raw food challenge during the coldest month of the year, in Canada, turned into making sure there was at least one serving of raw something with every meal. 


Anyhow, as I searched for recipes and inspiration for said self-induced challenge, I fell upon Meghan’s site. I read a bit of her story and it resonated with me. Her falling seriously ill in Africa was me in Paris. Her dealing with countless doctors (and no solid answers), causing her to take a key role in managing her autoimmune disease, was mine too. Her working in a field that didn’t speak to her was also me. And, and, and…..the rest is history. I ended up taking a culinary nutrition program at her nutrition school and later became one of her program coaches.


Fast forward to today. Meghan was kind enough to send me two copies of her latest book, The Undiet Cookbook. This book is for you if you wanna add more plants onto your plate without compromising on flavour. It’s a plant-based, gluten-free book with 130 recipes displayed with loads of vibrant photos. All hoping to inspire you in the kitchen.


What I enjoy about Meghan’s recipes are they’re simple to prepare with often a short list of easy to find ingredients. It’s a beautifully designed book with everything you need to get you through your day - breakfast, drinks, condiments, mains, sides, and of course, dessert. 


I’m keeping one book for myself, but I’m giving away the second one. Right here. Today.

balsamic roasted vegetables

I’m also sharing one recipe from this gorgeous book here with you - Balsamic Roasted Vegetables. Such a great way to use up the heartier winter vegetables. Because when it’s cold outside sometimes you want something warmer than a salad on your plate (case in point - my story above). ;)


The Giveaway

*TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY* of Meghan Telpner’s The Undiet Cookbook, please leave a comment below (be sure to include your email addy in the comment form) telling me about your favourite plant-based meal or dish. Contest closes 6pm EST Friday, November 20, 2015. One winner will be selected at random. (Contest is open to those with a Canadian mailing address only.) xx

balsamic roasted vegetables
balsamic roasted vegetables


Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 40-45 minutes

Serves 4–6 as a side



  • 4 beets, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 4-5 loose cups Brussels sprouts, ends cut off, outer peel removed, and cut in halves or quarters
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, avocado oil, or organic ghee
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)


Make It Like So

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Place all the veggies, including the onion and garlic, in a large mixing bowl and toss with the oil and salt. Transfer to a glass roasting pan or a parchment-lined cookie sheet and roast for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and mix in the balsamic vinegar, and stir vegetables around. Sprinkle the walnuts over top and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the veggies are tender.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Excerpted from The UnDiet Cookbook: 130 Gluten-Free Recipes for a Healthy and Awesome Life by Meghan Telpner. Copyright © 2015 Meghan Telpner. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Random House of Canada Ltd., a Penguin Random House Company. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.


My cooking notes on this dish:

If you can tolerate walnuts, add them in. For me, they made the dish. They give a good crunch against the softness of the vegetables.

Ghee was the winner for me in terms of fat. The rich flavour of ghee can’t be beat in my opinion. I used avocado oil one time as well. Also good. I didn't have the chance to use coconut oil but I’m sure it works well here too.


A Word on Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar is one that I love. I’ve become a bit of a purist with it, or rather a purist with a budget. I like the consistency to be slightly thick, with a taste slightly more sweet than it is vinegary.


To get this type of balsamic vinegar, look for a really short ingredient list. One with only two items - grape must and wine vinegar. (Ideally in that order too.) If grape must is the first ingredient, it’ll taste slightly more sweet and be a touch more viscous than if grape vinegar is the first ingredient. 


Cheaper balsamic vinegar varieties will include other ingredients. Ingredients like gums, flavours and colouring. These are added to create the must-like consistency and colour. If gluten-free is your goal, make sure whatever balsamic vinegar you choose is without caramel colouring.  This colouring is often made from a barley malt, making it not gluten-free.