“Leya was inspired to make this dish by her uncle,” says Leya’s mom, Deena. “As a family of Middle Eastern descent, Leya and her uncle love to create traditional dishes with a twist. Falafel and mango salsa are a favorite in the Middle East, so this was an attempt to make a healthier version. Falafels are usually deep fried, whereas in this recipe they are baked and are just as delicious. The salsa includes tomatoes, which is Tennessee’s state fruit. Tennessee is now home to a large Middle Eastern immigrant population, so there are many falafel places opening their doors in the state.”
- Leya Alani, Age 9, is the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winner from Tennessee.