By Sara Colman Carlson, RDN, CDECS
Chickpeas are on the list of hot food trends for 2021. So why does this legume deserve our attention and addition to the grocery list or menu options?
Chickpeas have been around for a very long time, documented as a Middle East food for over 10,000 years. African, Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines include chickpeas as a staple. Many on vegan and vegetarian diets include chickpeas and other legumes as a main protein source. Today chickpeas are the most commonly consumed legume in the world.
Chickpeas are also known as garbanzo beans. You will find both in the grocery store, which may be confusing. These are both the same thing, Garbanzo is the Spanish origin name and chickpeas is the common English term.
One half cup serving of chickpeas contains 106 calories, 6 grams protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat. The amino acid profile includes all amino acids except methionine. If cooked from fresh the sodium is very low—less than 5 mg. Most canned chickpeas have around 150 mg sodium per serving. Other nutrients in chickpeas include copper, folate, iron, manganese and phosphorus, potassium and selenium. Chickpeas are a great way to boost fiber intake with almost 6 g fiber per serving. This along with the protein work to create fullness—a benefit when you are trying to cut back on calories.
How to Cook Dried Chickpeas
Although canned chickpeas are more convenient, some recipes, such as falafel are best when made with rehydrated dried chickpeas. Plus you can save a few bucks. Like other legumes, dried chickpeas double in size when prepared. To get started, place the dried chickpeas in a large pot and add water to cover by 3 to 4 inches. Soak overnight or for the quick method, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let soak for at least an hour before cooking. Some recipes call for soaked, uncooked chickpeas. To cook, heat to a boil then simmer about an hour, until beans are cooked through. If using an Instant Pot, cover with water and cook soaked chickpeas for 10 to 15 minutes.
Ways to Prepare Chickpeas
There are many options to incorporate chickpeas into your meals. One of the most popular chickpea dishes if hummus, eaten as a snack or a meal side dish. Roasted chickpeas are super easy to make for a healthy, crunchy, fiber-filled snack. Use canned chickpeas make a quick addition to a soup, curry dish or salad. Drain and rinse to reduce the sodium. Make chickpea salad instead of tuna, or smash them to include on a sandwich. Chickpeas are even showing up as a pizza topping. Puree them to add to a sauce for thickness, process in a food processor to make falafel or chickpea burgers.