By Charna Sheinfeld, Nutrition Intern
By now, most Americans have tasted that creamy and popular dip known as Hummus. However, it has only been a few years since we have figured out that chickpeas, its main ingredient, can provide lots of fiber and protein and make for a delicious snack!
Chickpeas, or Garbanzo beans as they are sometimes called, have been popular in the Mediterranean and Indian cuisines for centuries. It is consumed in many forms, including cooked with spices and eaten plain, used as an addition to soups, pastas, and salads, ground into a dip, and even dried and ground into a flour.
It seems that the early Middle Eastern farmers who first cultivated these magical pearls were on to something. Chickpeas are a treasure chest of nutrients providing high amounts of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and vitamins. Like many other legumes, they are rich in amino acids and can therefore act as complementary foods to those that are low in protein. In addition, chickpeas are loaded with fiber, specifically insoluble fiber which keeps us fuller for longer and aids in digestion. Cooked chickpeas also provide a significant amount of iron, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and copper. Moreover, two important B vitamins, that help convert food into energy, B6 and thiamin are found in chickpeas. Finally, chickpeas provide significant amounts of vitamins E, K, A, and C, and folate.
Chickpeas can be purchased canned or dried. Dried versions require several hours of soaking and boiling, but the results of an extremely creamy textured bean are worth it. If you are pressed for time, canned varieties provide almost the same amount of nutrients and are extremely versatile. Chickpeas are especially popular amongst vegetarians, vegans and those who eat gluten-free. Gram flour, or Besan flour, is the flour made from chickpeas that are dried and ground up and is a very common ingredient used in Indian cuisine, as well as in the well-known Middle Eastern “falafel”. It has also become increasingly used in many gluten-free recipes.
So if you have not yet hopped onto the growing trend of eating chickpeas or hummus, now is the time! Check out the two recipes below made from canned chickpeas, which are easy to create, delicious to eat, and most of all, healthy and filling!