food spotlight: chickpeas

announcement: the little chickpea goes so far beyond the world of hummus. Even though chickpeas, both canned and dried, are a pretty consistent staple of my cupboard, I’ve realized lately that most people tend to shy away from this magnificent bean in daily cooking. Hopefully this post will remedy that, because the chickpea, or garbanzo bean, is a nutritional powerhouse, and also a ridiculously easy and filling addition to any meal.

In regards to buying and storing chickpeas, places like Earth Fare do offer dried chickpeas in their bulk section, so you do have the option to cook them yourself, but almost any grocery store will have a good selection of canned chickpeas… I’m not always one to promote canned foods, but in this case, I’m all for it. Whereas a lot of vegetables can lose some of their nutritional value in the canning and storing process, there isn’t really a huge difference in the nutrient profile of canned chickpeas and home cooked ones – just make sure to rinse the canned ones over a few times before using them.

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Now that you know how to get them, here’s a little bit of information on why to get them:

– 1 cup of chickpeas is a whopping 273% of your daily molybdenum needs. What the heck is that? It’s a trace mineral that your body needs to help metabolize fats and carbs.

– chickpeas are one of the highest available food sources of manganese, which helps with bone formation, is needed in the process of turning carbs into energy, and also is a necessary component in the production of the structural collagen in skin.

– in addition to the previous energizing element, they’re also high in iron, which is a key nutrient in energy production and metabolism. So, in a few different ways, chickpeas are a shot booster for your energy and metabolism, two things we’re always trying to boost.

– they’re an awesome source of insoluble fiber. Which everyone always needs more of.

– they’re crazy filling. A lot of times, when I’m in a rush, I’ll have straight spoonfulls of canned chickpeas for a meal-to-go. Studies actually show that a diet that includes garbanzo beans leaves people feeling more full, and therefore consuming less food.

– finally, chickpeas are a great source of both fiber and protein, the combination of which work to better regulate the blood sugar and stabilize the flow of food through the digestive tract.

All great reasons to add more chickpeas into your life. Now… how?

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My current favorite way to get my chickpea fix is to simply throw a few spoonfuls of them into whatever salad I’m making, a la our most recent recipe post, or to bake them with honey and spices for a sweet and savory snack. However, if you prefer something a little bit more substantial, chickpeas also happen to be one of the most versatile foods I’ve ever encountered. Here are a few awesome chickpea recipes that I’ve been loving lately:

– Pumpkin Hummus – 1 can of pumpkin, 1 can of chickpeas, 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds, 1 tbsp of tahini, 1 tbsp of maple syrup, 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (trader joe’s has a great one…), 1 tsp sea salt, the juice of half a lemon, and a dash of cayenne pepper. to make: simply soak the pumpkin seeds for a few hours, then throw everything into the blender and blend! top with a little extra cayenne pepper, just for an added bite.

– Sweet Potato Falafel – 2 sweet potatoes, 1 tbsp cumin, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp coriander, a handful of cilantro, the juice of one lemon,
1 cup of chickpea flour, a dash of olive oil, and 1 tbsp sesame seeds. to make: Boil the sweet potatoes until they’re soft, and then toss them into a bowl with the chickpea flour. Grate the garlic, chop the cilantro, and then toss everything into the bowl. Mix well, and then form the dough into little balls and place them on the baking pan. Cover with another dash of olive oil, and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

– Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Salad – 5 whole carrots, 1 can of chickpeas, 1/2 cup of dates, 1/3 cup of fresh mint, 1/2 cup of almonds. for the dressing: 1 tbsp cumin, the juice from 1 lemon, 2 tsp honey, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 2 tbsp olive oil, and a dash of sea salt. to make: finely grate the carrots into bowl. Place the chickpeas and the almonds on a baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes at 345, remove the almonds, and then let the chickpeas bake for another 5-7 minutes. Once the almonds have cooled, chop them and place them into the bowl. Chop the dates (if dried, let soak for an hour before cooking) and the mint, add those in as well. Once the chickpeas are slightly browned on the outside, throw them in too. Mix the dressing in a separate bowl, and then add it, stirring everything well.

– Spiced Sweet Potato and Chickpeas – and some link love for our final chickpea recipe, Sprouted Kitchen’s amazing take on this little bean. (while you’re over there, check out the pistachio falafel too… it’s amazing!)

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