When most people think of chickpeas they likely think of good-for-you, great-tasting hummus, without knowing exactly how healthy they are. Read on for to learn more about chickpeas, including their nutritional value, health benefits, and recipe ideas.
What are Chickpeas?
The chickpea is a member of the legume family. Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are high in protein and fiber, making them appealing to vegans and vegetarians as a great source of plant-based protein. One cup of chickpeas has approximately 14.5 grams of protein and 12.5 grams of fiber. Chickpeas are also a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
There are two main varieties of chickpeas. In the United States the larger, light-colored Kabuli type is more common. The smaller, darker Desi type is more often found in the Middle East and in India.
Health Benefits of Chickpeas
In addition to being naturally gluten-free, chickpeas have several significant health benefits.
- Digestion – The high fiber content in chickpeas helps our digestive tract by improving digestion and promoting regularity. Bye-bye constipation!
- Weight Management – Fiber helps us feel full, which can result in a reduced appetite; this, in turn, can help promote weight loss.
- Type 2 Diabetes – Chickpeas carry a low glycemic load and contain a starch known as amylose which helps slow the process of food through the digestive tract. This helps to keep blood sugar levels in check by preventing a sudden surge in blood sugar and insulin levels.
- Almost a Complete Protein Source – Chickpeas contain eight of the nine essential amino acids that make up complete proteins. Fortunately, it is easy (and delicious!) to make up for the missing amino acid by pairing chickpeas with another protein source such as a whole grain. A simple snack of pita and hummus offers a super protein boost!
- Cancer – Chickpeas contain several vitamins and minerals that can help reduce your risk of cancer. Vitamin B in chickpeas can help lower your risk of lung and breast cancer, while fiber helps to reduce your chance of colon cancer.
- Heart Health – Not only is fiber great for digestion, but it also works to lower cholesterol in the blood. The high fiber content in chickpeas as well as the potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B-6 all work together to help promote a healthy heart.
Vegan Chickpea Recipes
Besides packing a nutritional punch, chickpeas are also very versatile in recipes! Despite being typecast as the star of hummus, chickpeas can be prepared in lots of delicious ways.
A Note on Preparation
Chickpeas are not hard to find. Canned are fine if you don’t have time to make them from scratch using dry beans. Be sure to look for organic beans packed in cans that are certified BPA-free. Also, always rinse canned beans to help reduce the sodium content.
If you do decide to make your own from dried beans, be sure to soak them overnight before cooking. This makes them more digestible and helps your body to get the most nutritional value from the beans. It also helps reduce cooking time quite a bit (from 2 hours to 30 minutes!). Always remember to discard the soaking water and use fresh water for cooking.
- Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Chickpeas – This is our recipe which is actually quite popular on the web. Because chickpeas are so versatile, you can easily make these savory by using your favorite herbs instead of sugar and cinnamon.
- Chickpea Flour – Chickpea flour is gluten-free and is packed with the same health benefits of chickpeas. It can be used as a replacement for white and whole wheat flour in just about any recipe.
- Black Bean Crust Pizza – In this recipe by Sweet Potato Soul, chickpeas could easily be substituted for the black beans.
- Chana Masala – “Chana Masala” means “mix-spiced small chickpeas.” It’s an Indian dish that usually includes spices such as garlic, coriander, ginger, and chiles, along with tomatoes and onions. Several folks in the Peas and Carrots group mentioned Chana Masala. This recipe from the Minimalist Baker is simple and involves one pot and only 30 minutes. You can enjoy Chana Masala by itself or over rice or potatoes.
- Chickpea “Tuna” Salad – Simple Veganista offers quite a few chickpea recipes, including this one for Cranberry Walnut Chickpea Salad Sandwich.
- Chickpea Stew – ‘Tis the season for soups and stews so we definitely wanted to include this recipe for chickpea stew from the Shrinking Kitchen. What we like about this recipe is that it adds potatoes to make the stew heartier and more filling.
- Chickpea Spinach Pie – Vegan Richa’s chickpea spinach pie is a must-try for us. You will see in the pictures on Vegan Richa’s site that the pie looks a lot like Spanakopita. This looks like a great dish to take to a family holiday get together.
- Raw Cookie Dough – This recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie is both eggless and flourless. Because there are no eggs, you can choose to forego the baking and just eat this dough raw.
- Falafel – Several folks in our Peas and Carrots group also mentioned falafel, which both Larissa and I LOVE. We’ve never made it at home so I went out looking for a simple recipe. While there are several good ones out there, I’m including a recipe from Loving It Vegan because it looks awesome and easy.
To hear us discuss the health benefits of chickpeas and share more about these recipes, check out episode 280 of our podcast below!
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Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa