Better than takeout: Joy Bauer shows you how to make healthier falafel at home

Same flavors but for a fraction of the calories!
Homemade falafel, tomato, yoghurt sauce, rocket and mint in pita bread on chopping board
Made with spiced mashed chickpeas or fava beans (or both), fried falafels may be small but they can pack a ton of calories. Westend61 / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

When you think of Mediterranean food, you probably think of olive oil, nuts and seeds and healthy Greek salads. But there are plenty of decadent and not-so-diet friendly dishes, like baklava and fried falafel, which could use a little lightening up. Check out my healthier versions — both deliver the same delicious flavor for a fraction of the calories.

Baked Falafel

Baked Falafel

Laura Vitale

There's no arguing that falafels are deep-fried deliciousness. Made with spiced mashed chickpeas or fava beans (or both), they may be small but they can pack a ton of calories. To remake the classic Middle Eastern dish, I lightened up the ingredients and baked them instead of fried them. The finished product is a better-for-you version that's just as indulgent. Take a taste and see if you agree!

If you're a fan of baklava, the flaky Greek dessert made with filo dough, butter, nuts and honey, then you should give my baklava popcorn a shot. It has all the same flavors but for a fraction of the calories. Plus, it's a cinch to make.

Need more Mediterranean-inspired ideas? Try these recipes!

Cucumbers are one of the best foods for fighting signs of bloating because they’re loaded with water and naturally low in sodium. Plus, they’re a terrific calorie bargain: You can gobble up an entire cucumber for just 45 calories. Greek yogurt is another healing food that's full of healthy probiotics. Enjoy this delicious dip with your baked falafel or sliced cucumbers, stalks of celery, or even carrots for some added crunch.

This recipe is a super fun way to spice up your patty, and it has definitely been a welcome addition to my family's menu rotation. Follow my lead and serve them on warm toasty pita bread topped with sliced tomato, crispy lettuce and a dollop of tzatziki. These meaty gems are jam-packed with flavor and each bite is a party for your palate.

This recipe combines the de-bloating power of four foods: zucchini, chicken breast, peppermint and kefir. It also delivers the deliciousness in a fun presentation of zucchini boats.

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