Baked Sweet Potato Falafel

Do you believe in sharing your food? I don’t mean “sharing” in the (laudable) sense of offering your excess tomatoes to an elderly neighbor who can’t grow her own any more, or asking your single, cash-strapped nephew to your holiday feast, or donating part of your groceries to the local shelter; when I say “sharing,” what I mean is this: do you permit your book-club buddy to use the same spoon as you to taste your cherry cheesecake? Do you offer your yoga partner a sip from your Starbucks chai latte, thereby risking some backwash into your cup? Would you offer your friendly office mate a nibble of your glazed tofu even though her fork had already delivered some pasta salad to her own mouth a moment before?

So what I’m really wondering is this: what is your stance on double dipping?

Okay, maybe I’m being too anal about it all. But I just don’t feel comfortable sharing utensils, drinking vessels, or plates of already-sampled food.  I recall once seeing a commercial featuring a quintessentially cute kid–blonde curls, sapphire eyes, impossibly chubby cheeks–seated on a curb while clutching a huge, melty ice cream cone, her loyal Golden Retriever by her side.  Without warning, the dog leaned in and swiped a copious slurp of the ice cream–just like that!  The little Cutie Patootie simply giggled and continued to lick–right over the exact spot where the dog’s tongue had just landed. Ewwwww! I still have no idea what the commercial was advertising–I’ve been frozen at “she’s licking where the dog’s tongue just licked! Ewww! Ewww!” ever since.

Then, of course, there are the couples for whom sharing restaurant meals is a regular ritual. Mr. Bon Vivant might order one dish, Ms. Bonne Vivante another, and they switch halfway through.  Or perhaps Ms BV doth protest too much about not wanting dessert, but then proceeds to consume half of Mr BV’s order (though really, Ms BV can blame it on the wait-person, that fellow who so thoughtfully brought along two spoons with that White Chocolate-Mango-Persimmon Profiterole).

When my friend Sterlin and I went on our epic California vacation back in the 70s, we ended up at dinner one night with two Parisians whom we’d met because we overheard them speaking French and (hailing from Montreal ourselves and everything), we actually understood what they were saying and struck up a conversation. Next thing we knew, we were at a restaurant in San Diego, entirely smitten by the two young men (who professed to be medical interns visiting the US as part of a work term to learn about other cultures and increase their ability to help more people in their unending quest to heal the world . . . entirely altruistic, you understand).

Well, when it came time to order dinner, Jean-Marc (the nerdy one, who, as it turned out, liked Sterlin better) insisted he wasn’t hungry, ordering just a coffee.  Phillippe (the suave and sexy one, who, as it turned out, liked me–whoopee!) ordered a full meal. About halfway through, the waitress came by to top up Jean-Marc’s coffee cup.  The moment her back was turned, Jean-Marc slid the cup across to Phillippe, who simultaneously pushed his own half-eaten meal over to  Jean-Marc.  Then J-M proceeded to wolf down his (shared) dinner, while Phillippe sipped on his (shared–and from the same cup, yet!) coffee.  Needless to say, that put the kibosh on any chance of romance for me and the suave Frenchman.

The HH has his own idiosyncratic twist on the “couples sharing” concept. If you were to ask him, he’d insist that he’s opposed to sharing.  When we head to our favorite (read: the only one where I can actually get food I can eat on my wacky diet) Middle Eastern restaurant, I almost always order the same thing: hummus and Israeli Salad (chopped cucumber, tomato, onion in oil/lemon dressing).  The HH orders whatever he darned well pleases, which usually involves a skewer and paschal undertones.  But then my dinner arrives first, and the HH invariably ends up dipping his pita in my hummus (which sounds vaguely naughty for some reason, doesn’t it?).  Last time we dined there, I opted for the falafel balls (again, naughty!) and, as usual, the HH asked if he could try a little sample.

“Hey! Stick to your own balls!” I snapped (the naughtiness never ends), but of course, his plate was full of greasy, stringy cubes of meat, and my balls looked infinitely more appealing (I won’t even say it).  So he ended up sharing my meal as well as eating his own.

Sadly, it turned out that the restaurant’s falafel was (despite their promise to the contrary) plumped up with some wheat flour-filler, and I suffered the rest of the evening and into the next day for it.  I don’t have celiac disease, but I do react pretty badly to wheat, usually feeling as if my intestines are a car tire that’s been over-inflated. I promptly decided to make my own falafel, at home.

This recipe is based on one by one of my favorite health gurus, Dr. Ben Kim.  What I loved was that the falafel contains no grains whatsoever–the “filler” added to the chickpeas is potato (Dr. Kim used a white potato, but I decided to stretch the idea further with a sweet potato, and I’m glad I did).  While the final result is a bit moister in the middle than conventional falafel, the flavor is outstanding.  Not too spicy yet rife with exotic aromas of cumin and turmeric, these little balls are a perfect base for a light dinner or take-along lunch.  And since they maintain their shape rather well once baked, they transport easily for packed lunches.  In fact, the distinct orbs are perfect for sharing–no utensils or double dipping required.

Of course, once you taste them, you may decide you don’t want to share after all.

“Mum, I think you’re right, that dog should never have licked that little girls’s ice cream.  He should have just eaten the entire thing–forget about sharing!”

[Here served with some amazing Hemp-Lime Dressing from my newly acquired cookbook, Unprocessed by Chef AJ.  Stay tuned–review and giveaway coming up!]


Never miss a recipe–or a comment from The Girls! Click here to subscribe to via email. You’ll get recipes as soon as they’re posted, plus cookbook updates and news about upcoming events! (“We love subscribers, Mum. . . almost as much as we love treats!”

[Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links. If you buy using these links, at no cost to you, I will earn a small commission from the sale.]



  1. definitely trying this! Looks so good. Thanks!

  2. these sound (and look!) amazing! I will definitely be eating these, and sharing them… 😉

    I think I am okay with sharing with friends, not really with anybody (acquaintance, coworker, etc). last weekend we were at a wedding, and I saw an old friend I used to be very close with, but I haven’t seen in MANY years – I offered him my water bottle because it was warm 🙂

    • I know my approach is very germ-phobic (just call me the female Howie Mandel!). 😉 But I guess I’d share with my hubby (ha ha). 😉 Glad you like the falafel!

  3. Mmmmm….those felafel look yummerific!

    I’m fine with sharing. I don’t do it with people who are ill, or with children who have not yet mastered their drool, but otherwise, I really don’t see the big deal.

    • Yes, the image of children who haven’t yet mastered their drool doesn’t really encourage me to share with them lol! But I’ll definitely share the word, “yummerific”–great word! 😀

  4. These look great! I can’t wait to try it! I never made falafel with filler, but the sweet potato sounds like an awesome twist. I lovelove falafel, but never order it anymore at restaurants. I think the isssue (for celiac me) is less wheat fillers and more cross contamination in the fryers. I don’t order french fries anymore either.

    And gluten cross-contamination is why *I* don’t usually share. Even with my little girl. My reaction is painful enough that I just can’t see risking it. Oh, and a little bit “if you wanted my food, you should have ordered it, because I only ordered it because it was the only dang thing on the menu I could eat, and you (hubby, friend, dd) can get whatever you please.” Not very adult, not very generous, but, if I’m honest, the thought does go through my mind…

    • I almost always have the same thought about my meal when the HH leans over to eat “my” hummus (when he has a HUGE plate of what HE ordered in front of him and I have so few choices that I can eat). I don’t think it’s being un-generous in that situation! 😉 I hadn’t thought about not sharing because of cross-contamination–I think I need to be more aware! Thanks. 🙂

  5. Love, love falafel, and Dr Ben Kim!!! I love his Korean pancake recipe! So many of his! I have cukes waiting in the fridge to make his cuke kimchi recipe tomorrow. I miss traditional falafels so I will definitely try your sweet potato (I actually use red garnet yams mostly). Ricki, do you think I could sub a different bean? Garbanzo for some reason just are hard for me to digest, even being vegan and living on legumes et al, (and celiec)? Tough one as there just aren’t any beans the same density and texture of garbazos!

    Sharing? My husband and I do, but rarely and not directly off one anothers plate. Def pickier about this than I used to be!

    • I adore Dr. Kim, too and have made lots of his recipes. 🙂 Re: another bean, I know what you mean. I tried to make some pancakes the other day with white kidney beans instead of garbanzos and ended up with. . .mush (tasty, but still mush). You could either try using another bean and adding some flour to absorb the extra moisture, or even some ground flax or chia for the same purpose (maybe a tablespoon or two). The only bean I can think of that’s even vaguely similar is favas, but their flavor is very distinct (I have come to love them, but not everyone does.)

  6. Gorgeous recipe, Ricki! I’ve filed it.

    Okay, you better sit back for this one. I had a black labrador retriever, Abby. During snack time she would run and jump on the couch next to me when she saw me carrying a yogurt container and spoon (pre-vegan days). I would take a bite. Then I would spoon the next bite and give it to her (she ate from the spoon). Then me, then her. Yep, totally grossed my husband out. She and I would simply glare at him and I would say “you don’t understand our love!” Sick, I know.

    As for people sharing. We double-dip at home (I mean I kiss the guy!) but I’m not into double-dipping with even the closest of friends. If we share at dinner, it’s by cutting off a bite or piece and putting it on the others plate.

    • JL, that is hilarious! You KNOW how much I love the Girls, and I *still* can’t bring myself to share with them! I know that dogs’ mouths can kill lots of germs and bacteria, etc that ours can’t. . . and I’m just too darn germ-phobic. I do allow the HH to double dip at home. . .same rationale (I do kiss the guy). 😉

  7. This post made me smile…I don’t share my food, drinks, water bottles, chapstick or anything of the like with anyone! I’ve always been given a hard time by friends and family (lovingly, of course!)…when my kids were little if they sipped out of my water bottle I’d just give it to them…ick! Not sure what ever brought this about in my life since most of my family are sharers (did I mention I’m an only child? Maybe that’s it…). The ice cream and the dog was so funny…on a not so funny note…my husband shares his ice cream with our dog…off the SAME spoon, no less!!!
    Can’t wait to try the recipe! Thanks for the post!

    • I’m with you on the sharing, Andrea–ick! (and I’m not an only child!). 😉 But I know that loads and loads of people share with their dogs, with no ill effects. . . just not for me. 😉

  8. Yum, those look amazing! Crisp exterior and soft innards (reminds me of my fav. black bean burger). Another one I will have to save and try.
    On double dipping or sharing glasses, utensils etc.. Ok, NO! Just thinking about it makes me nauseas!!! I just can’t. I remember that commercial very well. I used to actually look away from the t.v. screen when it came on because I couldn’t watch it. I think that is partly while I don’t date. I don’t even want someone’s gross saliva and other fluids anywhere near me (I know strange but true). I remember my sister drinking from my pop can a while ago and I looked at the can in horror and told her to just keep it. All I can imagine is the backwash swimming around……ok, I have to stop!

    I also had to tell ou, I signed up for the sugar detox but will be doing it in 2 weeks as I am away for business and really, hotel and restaurant food don’t cut it (I’m under ValaC).

    • Rhona, thanks so much! That’s exactly the correct texture for the falafels–they are sort of like my fave black bean burger, too. 🙂

      And congrats on signing up for the detox!! The class will still be there on tape so you won’t miss any of the lecture, and you’ll still have all the materials. 🙂

  9. I used to be more generous on sharing until I went gluten free. Now sharing only comes into play at my house when everything I make is gluten free. I would get so sick from pita being dipped in my hummus that it would be horrid. Eating out at restaurants, I almost never share even with hubby. He’s usually getting gluten-full foods and/or drinking a beer (also gluten-full) when we eat out and I know I’d get sick from the cross contamination factors. I’m already playing the Russian Roulette game by eating out to begin with. Enjoyed hearing about those French boys! LOL


  10. I chuckled the entire way through your naughty sharing description. You’re very funny, Ricki!

    As for sharing with others, for me it really depends on the person with whom I am sharing. I won’t share with strangers, but that goes without saying. 🙂 I do understand the ‘yuck!’ factor regarding sharing with precious doggies, though I have once shared a lollipop–you know those huge, round, flat, swirly ones from aeons ago?–with my dog.

    This recipe looks divine, though I’m sorry that it came about as a result of an unpleasant post-falafel experience. I can’t wait to try it out. Thanks for sharing it. Cheers!

    • Thanks, Christina! (And always glad to know I made someone smile). 😀 I do share with my hubby, and I guess if I had a child I’d probably be okay with that, too. My doggies–not so much. 🙂

  11. You know, there is a word in Hindi for food that has been tasted/sampled by one person – “jootha”. I’ve always been intrigued that there’s no parallel for the word in English. Probably because it’s traditionally unusual for people to “double-dip” in India except with the very close.

    The falafel looks delish, by the way!

    • Thanks so much, and thanks for your comment. 🙂 Interesting that there’s a specific word for a food that’s been shared by more than one–which obviously distinguishes it from just “any” food. Thanks!

  12. i love falafels! love that its baked. the sweet potato i bet gives it awesome hearty flavor!

    • Yes, the sweet potato adds a lovely flavor. And I’d definitely bake mine a little more next time–I think I’d prefer a crunchy exterior even if it means a dryer interior. 🙂

  13. Yum. I’ve always loved falafel…with extra sauce please. These look delicious. Will you be posting the recipe for the Hemp-Lime Dressing? Please say yes 🙂

    I used to be okay sharing meals but never drinks or the same utensils with the hubby, our kids or the grandbaby but I’ve found I react to even the tiniest amount of gluten, therefore, no more sharing for me.

    • Laureen, the dressing is from the cookbook Unprocessed by Chef AJ, which I’ll be reviewing in the next week or so. I’m going to ask if I can post the recipe! 🙂 And it sounds like you’re wise not to share if you can be glutened!

  14. Courtney says

    No! I won’t even share with my family, lol. I remember my mom used to get SO mad at me because I would always carry a water bottle with me and she never would and I wouldn’t want to share. I feel mean when I won’t share, but is it really “mean” to not share germs and spit and ickyness?!?!!?


  15. my grandma would SO not approve (always must have very traditional dishes at family gatherings!), but I can’t wait to try these!

    • Cheryl, I know–they’re totally NOT traditional. But I really loved the addition of the sweet potato–it “made” it for me!

  16. Great idea adding sweet potatoes to the falafel! I will definitely be trying these.
    And yep–sharing them too. It’s true, I even eat food that’s fallen on the floor. I figure it can’t hurt to build up your immune system by exposing it to some dirt every now and then 😉

    • Lori, I have to agree about building immunity–I think kids today should get dirty more often! Somehow that just doesn’t translate for me to sharing food. . . but I’m pretty anal about it. 😉

  17. What a great use of my dressing, I can’t wait to try these. YUM,

  18. I actually don’t mind sharing – but it does depend on the person. I think it is a survival technique learned from growing up with three hungry brothers. If you’re too squeamish about anything they do a the table you just go hungry.

    I can’t wait to try this recipe, in fact I think I might serve it up to my three favourite brothers this weekend 🙂

    • Lisa, you can’t argue with survival of the fittest! 😉 And this recipe is perfect for 3 hungry brothers, as it’s very hearty and filling. 🙂

  19. First, LOVE that recipe! Can you make me a batch and ship them over for my dinner? 🙂

    Double dipping – it depends. Husband, no problems, a couple of close friends I have who I know are ultra-anal about hygiene and such, no problem on things like a drink (I don’t think I’ve ever shared a utensil though, not even with my husband), but anyone else, probably not.

    • Glad you like it, Alisa! I have really been enjoying them in various incarnations since I made them. 🙂 And I’d be okay with double-dipping with the HH, too. 🙂

  20. I’ve actually never had falafels but they look so good I have it on my to do list to make some. I’ve been collecting recipes that I think I would like and this one looks the best so far so I have saved it for when I am ready to make them. I just love sweet potatoes. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thanks so much, Carol, and thanks for your comment! It really is an easy recipe to make–just throw all int he food processor (once the potato is cooked, of course). 🙂

  21. I’ve made baked falafel too, with pumpkin puree instead of sweet potato. Delish! I could never get sick of falafel in any way, shape, or form!

  22. sweet potato FALAFEL?! this blows my mind out of sheer awesomeness. two amazing things combined…love it!

  23. Oh dear I have stopped making falafel at home since I fell in love with a local falafel shop – I love how they pack it with so many herbs it looks green but I quite love an orange veg in a falafel too – you now have me hankering after making my own

    As for sharing, it depends who with I am sharing – with e I don’t mind and it is inevitable with sylvia – though when she spits out toast that she has had in her mouth for 10-15 minutes I don’t have any desire to share!

    • That’s hilarious about Sylivia’s toast! I guess I sort of excluded partners and children from my list of “won’t share”s. 😉 And I thought of you and pumpkin when I made these! 🙂

  24. don’t think i’d share 🙂 although i have a tendency to want to try other peoples… hehe

  25. I’m okay with sharing with close family members if they’re a) not sick and b) haven’t just eaten anything with gluten or dairy. So I’d be upset at the dipping of a pita into my hummus….but I guess you got into wheat anyway, so no matter, huh? But I’m figuring you’re more grossed out than worried about the same things I’m worried about. To me, somehow, my family’s cooties aren’t as gross as other people’s cooties!

  26. Too bad the restaurant’s falafel balls had wheat in them. I bet this homemade version of yours is even better though! I don’t mind sharing food with people I know well enough. I don’t like sharing bags of chips though. People touch all the chips!!

  27. Hi Ricki

    Thanks for an hilarious post.

    I am totally with you about sharing/ double dipping. Not quite sure why as I am not an excessive germophobe, but for some reason I find the idea of someone else’s fork, fresh out of their mouth, scooting around my plate completely disgusting. As for the cutesy kid with the icecream and canine sharer…ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww… I love my greyhound but there’s no way I’d eat off a plate his nose had burrowed into..
    Sweet potatoes and falafel – two of my great loves. I will definitely be trying this.

    • Thanks for your comment, and for reading my blog! 🙂

      Nice to know I’m not alone on the “eww” about dogs directly sharing my food. I adore my Girls, but couldn’t bring myself to mix saliva with them! The potato/chickpea combo really works well here. Hope you like these!

  28. I knew these would be good, bookmarking now!

  29. I made these last night. While the don’t look as nice as yours, they were superbly tasty.

  30. These were really easy and the ‘dough’ held together well when using an ice cream scooper. Thanks!


  1. […] bean dips with other varieties, such as black beans, lentils or even fava beans? Bite-sized falafel or bean balls are a great nibbler that will help curb the desire to overeat on breads or pasta […]

  2. […] Ricky Heller’s sweet potato falafel, My own mish-mash carrot + zucchini falafel, and Coconut & Berries’ beetroot falafel […]

  3. […] custard, coastal crackers, olive hummus, and smoky lentil hummus with peppadews, along with some sweet potato falafel. Oh yes! I figured there was something for everyone, even if my food is considered too strange and […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.