by Bridie Chandegra - Easy VeganⓇ
Out of all the legumes I think chick peas are my favourite. This amazing bean is almost magical when you take into account the sheer number of uses and benefits it has.
Yes, it is a magic bean!
Chick peas, are also known as Garbanzo beans, Bengal grams and Egyptian peas.
There are two main varieties of chickpeas; One larger, round and more light in colour, called the Kabuli Chickpea and the smaller, darker and irregularly shaped Desi Chickpea often used in India and the Middle East.
Smaller desi chickpeas are darker and coarser on the outside, with yellow flesh inside. You may see split desi chickpeas sold as 'chana dal' in Indian markets.
You can purchase chickpeas either dried or canned. Although canned chickpeas can be used if you are in a rush, for flavour it's best to soak dried chickpeas overnight and cook them in their soaking liquid to make sure you retain all the yummy goodness.
Chickpeas have a delicious nut-like taste and a texture that is buttery yet starchy and fluffy at the same time. It's a very versatile legume, and in my opinion incredibly clever at making itself useful in a myriad of recipes.
Chick peas are a common ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes, such as hummus, falafel, and curries.
But the magic doesn't end there! Oh no...
Chickpea flour is higher in protein than wheat flour, which could help stave off those hunger pangs for longer. Choosing chickpea flour may also help increase the number of calories you burn in a day. Chickpeas are an ideal protein source for vegans, as they provide nearly all of the essential amino acids the body needs.
Fibre is the backbone of the human diet. Far too much importance is placed on protein but the real source of gut health is wholesome bean fibre.
Chick peas are one of the top ten sources of fibre. Chickpeas can help us live longer, control our blood sugars and help prevent and treat diabetes.
Evidence based research also shows that eating more fibre in your diet decreases the chance of bowel cancer. Chickpeas have been used to treat high blood pressure and diabetes for thousands of years.
Chickpeas also contain antioxidants that help fight free radicals. And, using chickpea flour in processed foods seems to reduce their content of harmful acrylamide.
Chickpeas are a low-GI food, meaning they have a gradual effect on blood sugar. Some studies showed eating foods containing chickpeas resulted in decreased blood sugar levels, compared to products made with wheat flour.
Chickpea flour is loaded with important nutrients. One cup of chickpea flour contains:
With slightly more folate than you need in a day chickpeas play an important role in preventing spinal cord defects during pregnancy.
No need for folate supplements here!
Legumes have been proven to increase lifespan too. In a recent global study involving groups of people in Japan, Sweden, Greece, and Australia the results showed that the participants with longer lifespans were the ones with the highest legume intake overall.
Whether it was the Japanese eating their soy, the Swedes eating their brown beans and peas or those in the Med eating lentils, chickpeas and white beans, the legume intake results were consistent and statistically significant within all the data, across all the populations combined. Results proved there was an 8% reduction in the risk of death for every 20 grams increase in daily legume intake.
That’s only two tablespoons of beans extra a day. Eat more, and perhaps you'll live forever - Told you they were magic!
Domesticated chickpeas were found in the aceramic (early Neolithic period, before a culture develops ceramics) ground of Tell es-Sultan (Jericho) and Çayönü in Turkey. This dates the domestic chickpea to about 3500 BC.
In southern France, Mesolithic layers in a cave at L'Abeurador, Hérault, have yielded wild chickpeas carbon-dated to about 6790 BC.
The humble chickpea has grown continually in popularity ever since. Mostly, because they're one the most versatile legumes in cooking today. Think of them as the legume family's answer to mushrooms.
As an avid cook and experimental chef, the mushroom is another one of my favourite foods, and like the chickpea it's because a mushroom can be incredibly versatile too. They also add great texture and flavour to just about any recipe. Plus, they're fat free, low in sodium and, like chick peas, they have soluble fibre that helps to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Both mushrooms and chick peas have been a staple in Mediterranean cuisine since there have been cooks in the kitchen. And, it's not only Greece or Italy that have the monopoly, these two ingredients lends its alliances heavily to Middle-Eastern and Indian cuisines reliant on them for so many authentic dishes.
If you're lucky enough to have a Moroccan market on your doorstep then treat yourself to a traditional Moroccan Vegetable Soup, made with chickpeas, cilantro (coriander) and lemon. Family recipes are handed down generation after generation and are spiced with cumin, turmeric and cinnamon. This type of soup is also known as Harira, a Muslim staple to break the daily fast of Ramadan.
If you don't fancy yourself as a connoisseur of the spicy palette then most vegan cafes do a tasty falafel wrap, hummus dip, burger or a mild bean curry, all made with the magic chickpea!
The following recipes are part of The 30-Day Switch and Stay Easy Vegan Challenge. One Month of Delicious Vegan Meals at Your Fingertips - Yummy!
1. No Egg Vegan Frittata
2. Beetroot Burger & Fries
3. Chickpea and Aubergine Curry
4. Aquafaba Mushroom Crepes
5. Savory Pancakes & Vegan Feta
6. Butternut Squash Pasta Bake
7. Morning Sweet Potato Hash
8. Oat Cream Falafel Burger
Not everyone finds cooking and experimenting with food as pleasurable as me. Some people get very frustrated and don't even try, turning instead to convenient pre-packaged ingredients and, even worse, processed ready meals.
But don't worry, with chick peas, every meal is easy peasy!
Don't get me wrong, chick peas are magic but they're not that magic! They won't suddenly jump up on their own and make a scrummy meal for you, but if you buy the canned chickpeas in water, these little balls of versatility can really save the day.
Most clever cooks have a repertoire of recipes they use over and over again, just adding flavours and base ingredients to fulfil the desired need. For example, a summer-vegetable penne-pasta bolognese can become a winter-warming vegan-meatball pasta bake.
The fillings and sauces for most main meals can be bulked out and crammed full of healthy fibre using our trusted friend the chickpea!
If you can't cook or won't cook, the chick pea is the best high-fibre friend you can find.
For a simple, quick and easy meal, add drained and rinsed canned chickpeas to a bowl of spinach leaves. Plop in some sliced red onion, a handful of washed red kidney beans, drizzle with vegan mayonnaise and season with some salt and pepper. Very simple and not a saucepan or casserole dish in sight!
Of course you could cheat completely and just pick up the phone. Ordering vegan food is getting more and more popular. Beetroot and chickpea burgers and falafel wraps are a favourite for most.
Don't feel guilty about it, just do it - have the night off!
Chickpeas are one of the key ingredients in a vast array of recipes, starters & mains, even chickpea flour (also known as gram flour), is used in bread, cakes and desserts.
All you need is five simple ingredients:
This tasty breakfast recipe can be served with bananas, walnuts and maple syrup and don't forget those blueberries for extra vitamins and minerals.
They're grain-free, gluten-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free, egg-free and dairy-free, all thanks to the magical power of the marvellous chickpea!
Stuck for a healthy snack? Here's a recipe I've tried on many a sunny day. Perfect with a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blush.
Just like that - Magic!
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