Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) are a delicious and inexpensive source of high-quality, vegetarian protein, making them an integral part of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Indian cuisines.
efMan has a long history with chickpeas. Records show they were being grown about 3000 BC around the Mediterranean. Ancient cultures, such as Egyptian, Greek, and Roman, also knew the value of chickpeas, using them as a main staple of their diets. Explorers brought chickpeas to the New World during the 16th century. As immigrants from Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries and India settled in new areas, they brought chickpeas with them as well.
Why chickpeas are so good for you:
Chickpeas are full of fiber. Just two cups (or two servings) of chickpeas can provide you with all of the fiber you need for the day. Research has shown that the fiber found in chickpeas is better for you than the fiber from other foods. Fiber from chickpeas gives your body an improved ability to regulate the amount of fat in your blood, giving you lower levels of triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol, and total cholesterol.
Chickpeas help you control blood sugar. Chickpeas move slowly through your digestive tract and are full of vitamins and minerals, giving them a powerful impact on your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and insulin secretion. You only need to eat one-third of a cup of chickpeas each day to have better control over your blood sugar levels and the amount of insulin your body releases. After just one week of eating chickpeas, you can see a positive results.
Chickpeas keep your waistline slim. Research has shown that those who eat chickpeas as part of their regular diet eat less food overall and less processed snack foods than when they did not have chickpeas on the menu.
Chickpeas are great for your digestion. The fiber in chickpeas is excellent for your colon! A large part of the fiber in chickpeas is insoluble fiber. Research has shown that the fiber from chickpeas is metabolized by the colon’s bacteria and creates large amounts of short chain fatty acids. These short chain fatty acids give energy to the cells lining your intestinal walls and protect your colon from disease.
Chickpeas are packed with antioxidants. There are two types of chickpeas commonly available throughout the world, the creamy-colored “kabuli-type” and the smaller, darkly-colored “desi-type”. While both types of chickpeas are full of antioxidants, the darker-colored skin on the “desi-type” chickpeas give them a stronger concentration of antioxidants.
Why should you cook dried chickpeas instead of just opening a can:
While canned chickpeas are a simple and quick way to add this protein-packed legume to your diet, preparing dried chickpeas definitely has its benefits. Dried chickpeas are less expensive. When you prepare dried chickpeas in your own kitchen, you control the amount of sodium that they are prepared with. If you prepare more chickpeas than you need, the extra can be easily frozen until you are ready to enjoy them!
How to select, store, and prepare dried chickpeas:
Dried chickpeas are generally available to buy from bulk bins or pre-packaged in bags. Look for chickpeas that appear to be whole and without cracks. They should also not look as though they have been exposed to moisture or insects.
When stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container, dried chickpeas will be good for up to one year. Once chickpeas have been prepared, they will stay fresh in the refrigerator for approximately three days or in the freezer for one month.
Preparing dried chickpeas is simple, it just takes a bit of time. Remove any stones or damaged chickpeas and then rinse your dried chickpeas in cool water. Soak your chickpeas overnight in three cups of water per one cup of chickpeas plus one tsp of baking soda. The baking soda will help to soften the chickpeas.
After soaking, drain the water off of your chickpeas and place them in a large pot or dutch oven with two cups of water to one cup of chickpeas. Bring the water to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer. Put a lid on the pot and allow the chickpeas to cook for 1-1 ½ hours, until they reach your desired level of tenderness. Drain off the cooking liquid and cool the chickpeas for at least 15 minutes before eating or adding them to your recipes.
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