Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are a versatile legume with a range of nutrients. Due to its high protein content, chickpeas are prevalent in plant-based diets. For example, one can (14 oz.) contains 14 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber!
Chickpeas can substitute for animal-based protein and still give you enough energy to power through your day. A recent study found that replacing 3% of animal-based protein with plant-based protein lowered the risk of overall mortality, cardiovascular-related death, and improved longevity.
Chickpeas are famously known as the main ingredient in hummus, but this beige-colored legume can be the star of a dish, side dish, or dessert!
How to Prepare Chickpeas
Too Much sodium?
For convenience’s sake, most people tend to buy canned chickpeas. There’s nothing wrong with that, but canned foods often contain high amounts of sodium. The trick is to drain and rinse the beans, which can reduce the sodium content by up to 40%.
Roasted chickpeas are perfect for snacking or adding texture to grain bowls.
Method: To roast, heat your oven to 400°F. On a sheet pan, spread the beans, add a little bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt—roast for 20 minutes.
Depending on the chickpeas’ dampness, you may need to leave them in the oven a little longer to get to desired crispiness.
Pro Tip: If you’re feeling confident with your oven skills, turn off the oven when the chickpeas are just about done, and leave them in for a few extra minutes. This method will give the chickpeas that extra crispiness!
Pressure Cooking Method
If you plan to cook dried chickpeas, try pressure cooking them to save time. One of the pros of cooking dried beans is less sodium content than canned versions!
Method: Soak the beans overnight. The next day, pressure cook your beans for six minutes with natural release.
Pro Tip: It’s imperative to use the natural release method when pressure cooking chickpeas, or any beans, because of their starchiness. If you release the pressure quickly, the starchy air will clog the throttle. So, it’s crucial to allow the pressure to come down naturally.
Blending chickpeas is essentially making hummus, and it’s incredibly easy to recreate your favorite store-bought hummus.
Method: Blend one can of beans with three (3) tablespoons of tahini, two (2) tablespoons of olive oil (adjust to your liking), and a pinch of salt.
Throw in flavorful ingredients such as olives, roasted red pepper, pesto, or jalapeno. Add lemon zest to brighten up the flavor.
Pro Tip: One can makes a decent amount of hummus, so if you don’t think you can eat your homemade hummus within a few days, use half of the beans for hummus and the other half for another meal.
Don’t Throw Away the Chickpea Liquid!
The viscous liquid found in canned chickpeas is known as Aquafaba. Although there’s only a modest amount of research on this newfound ingredient, aquafaba is invaluable to the vegan community.
Aquafaba has a similar protein structure as the egg white, making it a perfect egg substitution. The vegan community has been using aquafaba to bake meringue or create whipped texture in baked goods over the past few years. Aquafaba is also an excellent ingredient to use in savory foods and drinks.
How to Include Chickpeas in Your Meal
Below are some ways to incorporate chickpeas in your next meal:
1. Use roasted chickpeas as a salad topping.
2. Create texture in soup by lightly mashing cooked chickpeas.
3. Replace animal-based protein in pasta or grain bowls with your choice of chickpea preparation (blended, roasted, etc.).
4. Prep your snacks for the week by pairing raw veggies, like baby carrots, bell peppers, or cauliflower, with hummus.
5. Bake meringue, brownies, or macarons with aquafaba.
As you start to become more familiar with this versatile bean, think about your dietary needs when prepping meals. For example, do you need to be mindful of your total carbohydrate intake? Are you managing a diabetes-friendly diet? Do you need to include more fiber in your meal?
If you would like to talk to a registered dietitian about your nutrition needs, contact our CU Wellness Clinic. To learn more about other food hacks and healthy cooking, join us on Tuesday evenings for one of our Culinary Medicine virtual cooking classes!