Chick what? Chickpeas

What are chickpeas and what do I do with them?

Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are a legume and a native food of the Mediterranean region. They are inexpensive and can be dried or canned.

Chickpeas are a staple in many Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Indian cuisines. There are different kinds of chickpeas, but the most popular ones are called Kabuli chickpeas. These are the white or light beige variety, which are widely available in grocery stores.

Chickpeas are a good source of zinc, folate and protein and are a great replacement for meat in mixed dishes. Chickpeas are low in fat and also provide dietary fiber. Studies have shown that chickpeas prevent blood sugar from rising abruptly and that they help lower cholesterol. They are an excellent source of energy.

Thanks to hummus, the popularity of chickpeas has been increasing. Hummus is a paste used as a spread in wraps, sandwiches and pitas and it also makes a great dip for veggies. It is made by blending or grinding cooked or canned chickpeas for the base and then adding seasonings. Hummus can be expensive sometimes to buy ready-made at restaurants and grocery stores, however, it is very easy and inexpensive to make at home by blending a few simple ingredients. Chickpeas could also be added whole to salads, soups and stews for an extra boost of low fat protein.

Here’s a simple recipe for hummus:

1 clove garlic, 1 can garbanzo beans (19 ounce)-1/2 liquid reserved, juice of a small lemon, 1 tablespoon tahini (can use 2 table spoons plain yogurt instead), salt and pepper to taste, 2 tablespoons olive oil. Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Enjoy!

A modified recipe can be found at http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/index.php?mode=display&rec_id=1009

Michigan State University Extension offers programs to help individuals make lifestyle changes. Please check out your local MSU Extension office for an Eating Right is Basic or Cooking Matters program.

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