Kickstart Gut Health with a Low-FODMAP Diet (Starting with These Green Falafel Balls)

Health Writer
April 14, 2021

You’ve heard it here before, but it’s worth saying again: A healthy gut is critical to overall health. When your digestive system isn’t working properly it can affect all other systems in your body, from immune to cardiovascular. Not to mention, digestive issues can be incredibly uncomfortable.

If you regularly experience gas , bloating , diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, or distention, it is worth speaking with a healthcare provider to get the root cause of your symptoms. (Parsley Health’s holistic care team can create an individualized nutrition plan and roadmap to a healthy gut.) Common causes can be SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) or IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), but luckily, nutrition can play a big role in easing symptoms and maintaining a healthy microbiome.

Adopting a low-FODMAP diet , though not a cure-all, can help you identify the root cause of digestional discomfort and alleviate symptoms. FODMAPs, or fermentable oligo-saccharides, di-saccharides, mono-saccharides, and polyols, are fermentable carbohydrates that some people can have a hard time digesting. Your clinician or nutritionist may recommend you try a low-FODMAP diet for a period of time to understand how your body reacts to each type of carbohydrate.

Eating low-FODMAP is doable , but it can feel daunting, so that’s why we invited health advocate, cook, and author Phoebe Lapine to share one of her go-to recipes from her newest book, SIBO Made Simple . It’s part patient guide, part cookbook, and full of healthy ideas to improve gut health and overall wellness. As she explains, it’s packed with “practical solutions to heal your gut for good.” With 90+ low FODMAP recipes, SIBO Made Simple is a must-read for those looking for delicious low-FODMAP recipe ideas, especially if your doctor has diagnosed you with SIBO .

Lapine’s Green Falafel recipe (see below) offers plant protein and fiber in easy-to-make bite-sized servings. And with the addition of sunflower seeds, these balls are a fantastic source of zinc and selenium—perfect for supporting thyroid health and gut health in tandem.

Lapine tells us, “Legumes tend to be a bit of a challenge for the IBS and SIBO set, despite their being such a fantastic source of plant protein and fiber. To keep as many options on the table as possible, even during a SIBO restrictive diet, I love finding ways to use canned chickpeas in moderation. These falafel are a perfect strategy, as you can limit your serving size to just a few balls.” And for a whole meal tip, she says, “I love serving these falafel as part of a gluten -free mezze platter, or as a vegetarian main course on top of Marinated Kale Salad with Roasted Fennel, Parsnips and Tahini from my book, SIBO Made Simple .”

Green Falafel with Magic Tahini Sauce

Makes 4 servings


For the Falafel:
¾ cup hulled sunflower seeds
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
¼ cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley
4 roughly chopped green scallions
16 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp grass-fed ghee
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt

For the sauce:

¼ cup tahini
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1-2 lemons)
½ tsp sea salt


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Position a rack in the center of the oven and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small food processor, pulse the sunflower seeds until ground into a fine flour. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside. (You can substitute seeds for 1 ¼ cup almond flour.)
  3. Add the chickpeas, parsley, and scallions to the food processor. Pulse until everything is well broken down but still a little chunky. Transfer to the bowl of sunflower seed flour.
  4. Place the thawed spinach in a clean dish towel and squeeze the water out. Add to the bowl, along with the eggs, ghee, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Mix until fully combined.
  5. Using a 2-inch ice cream scoop or a heaping tablespoon, portion the falafel batter into balls. Roll each ball in your hands until smooth, and arrange them evenly distanced on the prepared baking sheet. You should have about two dozen in total.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until a light brown crust has formed on the bottom of the balls. Remove the pan, and flip the balls to rest on the opposite side. Return the balls to the oven for another 15 minutes, or until crispy all around and browned on the second side.
  7. While the falafel bakes, make the sauce: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the tahini, lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of water, and the salt together until smooth. Add more water if necessary, to reach the consistency of mayonnaise.
  8. Serve the balls warm or room temperature, alongside the sauce.

Note: The falafels freeze very well after baking and can be re-crisped in a 375°F oven.

Health Writer

Brooke Klauer is a freelance writer and editor in the lifestyle and wellness space. She’s worked for various publications such as The Fold, The Chalkboard Mag, The Everygirl, and Honest History among others. She has an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s degree in education from Loyola University Chicago. When she’s not working or chasing down hugs from her three children, you will most likely find her in a cozy nook with her nose buried in a book.

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