What are chickpeas?
Chickpeas are a wonderful source of protein and fibre and are also known as garbanzo beans. These tasty legumes originated in the Mediterranean and the Middle East but are now a common feature in dishes all over the globe.
Included in a variety of foods from hummus to curries, chickpeas are a great way to boost your diet with protein and iron.
What are the health benefits of chickpeas?
Chickpeas are a source of plant-based protein
With 9g of protein in every 100g, cooked chickpeas are a valuable addition to a meat-free diet.
Protein is known as the building block of our bodies. We need protein from our diets to maintain and repair our muscles and body tissues. Studies have shown that a diet that is high in protein can keep hunger at bay as well as helping us to build muscle and control our weight.
Chickpeas are full of iron
Prized for their high vitamin and mineral content, chickpeas a vegan-friendly source of iron. Eating enough iron is essential for keeping our blood healthy and producing red blood cells.
This is particularly important for women, who need higher amounts of iron due to their menstrual cycles. Eating enough iron is also essential for vegans and vegetarians as most iron-rich foods are sourced from animals.
Chickpeas are rich in Vitamin B
A form of folic acid, vitamin B or folate plays a key role in forming new cells which makes it essential for pregnant women. Not having enough folate before or during pregnancy has been linked to birth defects in unborn babies. Just one tin of chickpeas will provide you with most of your recommended daily allowance of this vital nutrient.
Chickpeas are full of fibre
According to current NHS guidelines, most of us should aim for at least 30g of fibre a day. While most of us fall short, 100g of boiled chickpeas contains 8g of fibre.
Research shows that the fibre and other nutrients found in chickpeas are so important because they could help lower the risk of developing conditions like heart disease.
How to eat chickpeas and some recipe ideas
Eaten hot or cold, chickpeas are a versatile backup in any kitchen cupboard. Try some of these recipes to enrich your diet with protein and fibre:
There’s no need to buy hummus when it’s so simple to make at home. Simply combine chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin, tahini and garlic in a blender. Mix to form a creamy texture, adding water along the way if the mixture is too dry. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil to serve. A tasty dip with carrot and celery sticks or as a moreish starter with strips of pitta bread.
Delicious baked falafel
A delicious baked version of these deep-fried Middle Eastern is delightful. To make, thoroughly mash together cooked chickpeas and sautéed onion and garlic. Add coriander, cumin and a beaten egg. Mix and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Split the mixture into small balls and bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes on a non-stick baking tray. Once they’ve cooled, serve them with shredded lettuce and minted yoghurt.
For an egg-free alternative, try vegan egg.
Straightforward channa masala
Chickpeas, or channa as they’re called in India, are fantastic in curries. Although it’s straightforward to make, channa masala is packed with flavour. Add onions and garlic to an oiled pan with cumin, turmeric, coriander and a pinch of chilli powder. Once the onions are browned, add the chickpeas and a few tablespoons of water. Simmer for 15 minutes before seasoning with salt and lemon juice.
Crunchy roasted chickpeas
Roasting chickpeas in an oven provides a crunch, handy snack. Spread boiled chickpeas onto a non-stick baking tray. Sprinkle with your favourite spices and a drizzle of oil and roast in the oven until they turn golden. Let them cool for a healthier alternative to crisps. For a sweet treat, swap the savoury spices for cinnamon, vanilla or honey.
Whether you call them garbanzo beans, channa or chickpeas, it’s clear that regularly eating these legumes is a great way to boost your diet with essential nutrients.