Whether it be dried, roasted or tinned…..black, green, red or brown…. chickpeas are an understated legume that are very clever little plants! Being versatile, with properties rich in protein and fibre, packed with vitamins and minerals, chickpeas (also known as the garbanzo bean!) have gained a lot of traction as of late. As they are revitalised, we are increasing our understanding surrounding the benefits of the chickpea as an addition to a well-balanced diet.
Did you know that Kiwis search for the term 'chickpeas' on Google more than most nations? We sit equally with Canada, followed by Australia then Ireland.
With increasing interest in plant based diets (that are being reported as being better for our health and the environment!), this has prompted more research more into the role food plays to be health promoting. The role that legumes can play, specifically in vegetarian and vegan diets, have come up as an excellent replacement of meat, and chickpeas prove to be very nutrient dense, as an addition to any meal.
Chickpeas date back around 7,500, popularised through Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries thanks to the famous hummus and falafel. This nutty and grainy textured legume has been a source of inspiration and diversity in meals and is being included as a much wider sources of nutrient in diets. Now included in different dishes from salads to soups, stews and even in deserts, chickpeas can create a unique texture and taste along with the proven health benefits.
In addition to the health benefits, they have also been proven to assist in contributing to a healthy planet. Chickpeas can restore depleted soils and prevent erosion. They also may use little or no fertiliser and are a dry land agricultural crop, meaning they use no agricultural water. To top it off, the chickpea plant has a natural insecticide in its leaves, keeping bugs away!
Understanding the variety of these health benefits, as well as knowing the multitude of vitamins and minerals packed inside, can prompt us to all explore how we can incorporate these into our food routines and get creative in the kitchen.
Chickpeas can be used in many versatile ways, so here are 7 of our top tips to easily incorporate chickpeas into day to day life:
As a hummus or dip! This is a bit of an obvious one, but one you can do no wrong with! On the go with carrots, or as part of a nourishing salad bowl, chickpeas can are the staple in many dip and hummus recipes. Get creative, and mix up the flavour options with the addition of beetroot of other plant-based flavours! Try this recipe:
In a salad
Want a bit more crunch to your salad or leady greens? Toss through some roasted chickpeas for added flavours, texture, and a nice little nutrient boost! Get your recipe here.
In a curry
Either used as the base of a curry, or a way to add some extra fibre to a traditionally meat based option, your body will thank you for the additional of chickpeas here. Once simmered, chickpeas can really enhance the texture and flavours of a traditional curry too! See recipe here.
Often overlooked as an ingredient for a desert or sweet treat, chickpeas can be a healthy option or substitute in deserts and a way to add more nutrients to treat time! You can use the chickpea brine (aquafaba) to make a meringue- it's also a great egg replacer. Get the recipe here! or try these delicious Fudgy Chickpea Brownies
In a sandwich
Smashed Avo? No, it's Smashed chickpeas! With a bit of turmeric & seasoning work well into fooling your brain that you're having and egg sandwich. Try this nutrient dense sandwich here.
Other ways to use chickpeas
Roast up some chickpeas for an easy on the go, or pre dinner, nutty-flavoured snack! Add a dash of olive oil and a few spices, and the natural goodness of chickpeas will come through.
Craving a burger pattie or “meat’ substitute –recreate a similar plant-based experience to a meat burger (or even combine both!). This is why chickpeas are a kitchen staple, they can be a lifesaver when you want something a bit more substantial yet healthy. Add chickpeas to your favourite meat patty recipe, and create a plant-based power packed option without sacrificing on taste!
Being packed with all the macronutrients, and multiple minerals and vitamins, it’s safe to say that as we become more creative in the kitchen, and educated on health, we will see chickpeas appearing more and more on our kitchen bench.
Chickpeas are delicious and certainly worth including in your diet if you want to reap their health benefits and great flavours to your meals.