It’s that time of year when all thoughts turn to eating healthy, losing weight and saving money. I get it, I’m in! There’s just one problem, I’m not into self-deprivation. I love food, always have. I come by it honestly, I was born and raised in an Italian family, all foodies! So therein lies the reason I love chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans. Allow me to tell you the many loveable attributes of this humble bean.
- Chickpeas have a high fiber content. A single cup contains more than ten grams of fiber. It is this high fiber content that helps increase satiety and allows you to consume fewer calories with less food. This high fiber content also helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity for a healthier digestive tract. No wonder beans in general and chickpeas specifically are called “ nature’s little broom!”
- Studies have shown that eating chickpeas contributes to lower levels of LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol and triglycerides. Additionally, including these versatile and tasty beans in your diet has been found to improve control of blood sugar and insulin secretion.
- Chickpeas are an inexpensive source of dietary protein, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, including iron.
- The American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association and the American Cancer Association recommend legumes as a key food group for preventing disease and contributing to health.
Chickpeas are easy on the budget, convenient to keep on hand and delicious! They are versatile and can be used in so many recipes. The benefits of chickpeas remain the same whether using canned beans or beans that you cook yourself from dried beans.
I prefer the taste of beans that I cook from dried beans and they are more economical. It is very easy to cook dried chickpeas, or for that matter any dried beans, the process is the same. First sort through your beans picking out any stones or debris. Place in a deep pan and cover with cold water, toss in a few bay leaves but DO NOT ADD SALT! Adding salt before the beans are cooked results in a tough bean. Bring the beans to a boil, cover, remove from the heat and set aside for one to two hours. Drain the water and add fresh cold water , bring to a boil and then cover and simmer until beans are tender. Depending on the bean this takes about an hour but sometimes longer so check to ensure that the bean is tender and well cooked. At this point you can salt the beans and then drain to use in your recipe. Since this process is time consuming I always cook a pound or two at a time and freeze the extra beans to have ready for future meals. If you decide to use canned beans instead they work just as well and are just as nutritious, just make sure to drain the beans and rinse well before using, this gets rid of excess salt. On this day I decided to use my chickpeas in two recipes, I made a tasty hummus and a yummy plate of falafel. The recipes follow and I know if you try them you too will fall in love with the chickpea!
Here are two of my go to easy, economical and delicious recipes. Both are perfect for entertaining, a snack, or even a light lunch. Once you see how easy and delicious hummus is you will not want to eat the store bought stuff again. An added bonus is it costs less to make it than to buy it!
4 cups of cooked chickpeas or two cans drained and rinsed ,they are 15 or 16 ounce size
Juice of half a lemon
1 teaspoon salt
3 cloves chopped garlic
2 tblsps. sesame tahini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil plus 2-3 tblsps. to drizzle on top
2-3 tblsps water depening on how thick you like it
2 tblsps chopped parsley
Paprika to sprinkle on top
Add chick peas to food processor and pulse for two minutes to break them down before adding other ingredients. Using a spatula push down the resulting paste and add salt, garlic, lemon juice, sesame tahini,olive oil and water. Process until smooth. Spread in bowl and drizzle top with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle top with chopped fresh parsley and sprinkle with paprika . Serve with cut fresh vegetables like cucumber slices, celery and carrot sticks and bell pepper slices. It’s also great with pita chips! Store leftover hummus in the refrigerator .
2 cups cooked chickpeas or I 15 or 16 ounce can rinsed and drained
1 small red onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsps cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes depending on how spicy you like it
1/4 cups whole wheat flour, more if needed
Panko breadcrumbs for coating
Olive oil for frying or oil of your preference
Roughly chop onion and garlic and add to food processor along with the chickpeas. Pulse till it’s all chopped up. Add to this mixture the remaining ingredients and process until you have a mixture that will hold together, if sticky you can add in a little more flour. Cover mixture and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Form into balls about the size of a golf ball and flatten slightly with your hand. Cover with panko breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until shimmering and gently place the falafel into the hot oil . Do not crowd the pan or they won’t cook well. Fry about two minutes and then flip and cook on the other side for an additional two minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel lined platter. Serve in a pita bread with chopped lettuce, tomatoes and red onions or on a platter with hummus or tzatziki sauce which you can find in your grocery store’s dairy case, I bought the Cedar’s brand and it was excellent! Enjoy!