Chickpeas offer healthy alternative to many snacks

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Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Hummus may be the go-to snack for many students, but its main ingredient often goes overlooked by the average consumer.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, belong to the legume family, meaning they’re related to lentils, peanuts and many varieties of beans. Legumes can lower a person’s risk of heart disease, and chickpeas themselves offer other key nutritional boosts. High in fiber and protein, chickpeas are popular in vegan and vegetarian diets.

Chickpeas also contain 10 different vitamins, including folate, which aids in the development of red blood cells and potentially wards off birth defects. Three tablespoons of chickpeas provides roughly the same amount of potassium as a small banana.

Chickpeas can be bought dried or in cans that typically list salt and other preservatives in the ingredients list. Canned chickpeas are lower in nutrition because of the canning and storing process. When dealing with dried chickpeas, they must be soaked and slowly cooked in boiling water.

Chickpea snacks can also be found lining the shelves of grocery stores — a more recent phenomenon for the bite-sized balls of protein. Many of the snacks involve roasted, crunchy chickpeas with added spices and herbs for flavor.

Skip the prepackaged snacks, however, and make your own crunchy chickpeas at home. Simply toss soft chickpeas in olive oil, salt and preferred seasonings, and then place them in an oven preheated to 425 degrees. Stir and rotate the pan a few times, then enjoy a healthy, homemade snack. Also, try using roasted chickpeas as crouton substitutes in salads or as taco toppers for some extra texture.

Chickpeas also make for a great dessert. The savory flavor of the beans can be masked by cocoa powder, vanilla extract and nut butters to create a healthier alternative to cookies and brownies. Many chickpea-based desserts also require little effort — just grab a blender or a food processor, and you’re well on your way to a sweet and guilt-free treat.

Chickpea flour, also known as gram flour, comes from ground chickpeas. It is a naturally gluten-free flour that can also be used for baked goods — both sweet and savory. Try it in falafel or for your next pizza night. For sweeter uses, stick to using it in dishes that have stronger flavors, such as chocolate or peanut butter.

For more savory options, try adding chickpeas to your next pot of soup, or grab a good amount of spring vegetables, and stir-fry them with the chickpeas. Toss the finished mixture with some millet for a warm salad sure to fill up your stomach.

Chickpeas are also the star of the show when it comes to hummus. With the help of a blender and a few other ingredients, you can have fresh hummus in less than five minutes.

 

Recipe:

Ingredients:

– 1 16 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

– 1/2 cup water

– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more to top

– 3 cloves garlic

– 1/2 lemon, juiced

– 1 tablespoon tahini or peanut butter

– 1/4 teaspoon salt

– 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

 

Directions: 

– Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. If too thick, add more water. Serve and enjoy.