A plain chickpea is a boring chickpea. Yes, it might be incredibly nutrient dense, but eating a can of chickpeas is like… eating a can of plain beans or peas. It’s like some other boring food that no one wants to eat plain. So we don’t! We dress them up in salads, soups, stews, make hummus, roast them, add them to dessert, mash them up and fry them. Oh, you didn’t hear? Chickpeas are crazy amazingly versatile! The possibilities are pretty much endless with this little legume; you can even use the liquid from canned chickpeas to make vegan merengue. Yep, pretty awesome stuff.
The chickpea, also known as garbanzo bean, gram or Egyptian pea is one of the earliest cultivated legume, like 7,500 years ago. So you can imagine how creative people have become with chickpeas over the years. Originally cultivated in the Middle East, it has become a very popular food in the East only gaining popularity and increasing in cultivation in North America within the past century or so. Why? Because people sure love their hummus, and why not. Its delicious!
Chickpeas, along with many other pulses are incredibly nutrient dense; high in fiber, protein, iron, control blood sugar, great for your heart, great for female hormone regulation, help with detox and weight loss… and the reasons just keep rolling in.
Since we could talk about chickpeas all day (and probably whip up a rolodex of recipes happily and easily), we are going to give you our Top 5 reasons for choosing the chickpea, and 3 easy to make recipes using chickpeas!
First, our Top 5 reasons for choosing the chickpea:
1. Appetite Control
There has been some pretty awesome research pointing to appetite control and satisfaction when chickpeas are added to the diet. Participants in one study reported less consumption of sugary, processed and packaged snacks with a diet high in chickpeas. This could be because chickpeas are pretty high in plant-based protein, which is a great tool for appetite control.
2. Plant Based Protein
Not only high in protein (for weight loss support) but incredibly high in fiber as well, which makes it a great food for digestive support! Fiber is an amazing tool to aid in detoxification, blood fat regulation, lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The most abundant type of fiber present in chickpeas is insoluble fiber. This fiber passes through our G.I. tract virtually unchanged until it reaches our large colon. Then, it is turned into short chain fatty acids (SCFA) and used by our colon cells as energy. With this extra energy our colon cells can stay active and healthy!
3. Hormone Control
We aren’t too sure if you have heard the word ‘phytoestrogen’ but if you haven’t what this basically means is plant based estrogen; and chickpeas are an amazing source of phytoestrogens. Adding phytoestrogens to your diet is pretty important (especially if you are a woman). Without delving too far into the reason why we will say that even if you are a male, eating phytoestrogens can be important. This is because our planet is currently bombarded with xenoestrogens (fake estrogens that your body has a hard time metabolizing). They take up the receptors where estrogens are supposed to be and wreak havoc in the body causing hormonal imbalances. Xenoestrogens can be found in: tap water, plastics, make-up, food preservatives and colouring, fertilizers and insecticides. We really don’t want these floating around our body, and one way to help get rid of these xenoestrogens is to eat phytoestrogens.
4. Because You’re ‘Hangry’
If you know the word ‘hangry’, have used the word, have referred to yourself as this word, have felt this word; then, you probably need to add more blood sugar stabilizing foods to your diet – and the chickpea is one of the best foods for blood sugar stability. As we talk about so many times, when you eat sugar – any type of sugar – your blood sugar levels spike, then your body utilizes the sugar for energy.
A slow released sugar is one of the best and first things your brain uses for energy – and it’s a great thing. It’s needed and you thrive off on it. Unfortunately, most of us eat quick release sugars (which is okay if you are immediately burning it off). But the reality is, most of us are not and this causes blood sugar spikes, quickly followed by a blood sugar crash.
When you start to feel hungry, and moody the likely culprit is due to low blood sugar. It’s your body’s way of saying – “hey feed me!” but most of us take it as a cue to feed our body quickly, with anything that’s close by – which most of the time is other foods high in quick release sugars. So it’s a vicious cycle. The ups and downs of blood sugar can make anyone crazy. Literally. The people around you will tell you that you need to eat something because you’re being mean (we’ve been there trust us). But don’t reach for a Snickers, because that’s probably the worst thing you can put into your body; reach for some blood sugar stabilizing foods instead like chickpeas!
5. Locally Sourced
Chickpeas can be cultivated in North America and the more we buy food produced locally, the less we add to our carbon footprint. This is something that we should be increasingly concerned about in the next couple of years. As population increases pollution also increases, and finding ways to individually take measures to protect our planet from pollution and climate change is becoming very important – maybe not for our future, but definitely for our children’s futures. So buy local, fair trade and organic whenever you can. Having a diet high in chickpeas and other beans and legumes can help reduce your meat intake. Make one of your meals chickpea based and not cattle – just one night a week. Your body and the planet with thank you!
So now that you know a little bit more about the chickpea, and why it will benefit you in so many, oh so many ways, here are 3 wonderful, healthy and easy recipes to add some chickpeas into your life.
How we did chickpeas 3 ways!
1. Mashed Chickpea Salad
This delicious and nutritious Mashed Chickpea Salad will change your mind about chickpeas. Have it as it is, on a whole grain toast or even add a can of salmon/tuna to it. It’s perfect and extremely easy to prepare as a light lunch or a snack, rich in protein, antioxidants and fiber.
2. Spinach, Artichoke And Herb Hummus
Hummus, a creamy rich appetizer dipped into with some warm bread is something we have all come to love. We took the traditional hummus, added in some extra nutrients from artichokes, spinach and herbs for this tasty Spinach, Artichoke And Herb Hummus.
3. Chili Garlic Roasted Chickpeas
This Chilli Garlic Roasted Chickpeas recipe is the perfect alternative to a bag of chips. Incredibly rich in fiber, it will help you feel fuller for longer and stabilize your blood sugar levels.
I love the 3 of them! Will definitely try them! My kids like chickpeas salad: boiled chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, olive oil and salt!
Sounds simple & delicious 🙂 Let us know which one is your favourite from the three.