Food for Thought
The chickpea—also widely known as garbanzo bean, chana (north India), Indian pea, ceci bean and Bengal gram—is a tasty and versatile legume. Perhaps you recognize it as the main ingredient in hummus? It is also the hearty protein in many popular dishes from numerous cuisines, including those of India, Greece, Italy, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, the Philippines, Israel and various other countries in the Middle East.
- 7,500-year-old remains of this ancient legume have been found in the Middle East.
- Chickpeas are a good source of nutrition and are high in fiber and protein.
- Chickpeas are versatile: they can be stored dry and reconstituted later with liquid; canned in liquid; blended into a spread (as with hummus); roasted and eaten as a snack; or ground into flour.
- There are two main types of chickpeas: the Desi and the Kabuli. Desi has small, darker seeds and a rough coat; it is cultivated mostly in the Indian subcontinent, Ethiopia, Mexico and Iran. Kabuli, which has lighter-colored, larger seeds and a smoother coat, is grown mainly in Southern Europe, Northern Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chile.
Here is a quick recipe using chickpeas to make healthy hummus at home.
2 (15.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
½ cup water
¼ cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
3 tablespoons (tbs) fresh lemon juice
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon (tsp) salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Place beans and garlic in a food processor; pulse five times or until chopped. Add ½ cup water and remaining ingredients; pulse until smooth, scraping down sides as needed.
Per Serving (2 tbs): 44 calories; 51% of calories from fat; 2.5 grams (g) fat; 0.3 g saturated fat; 1.2 g monounsaturated fat; 0.7 g polyunsaturated fat; 1.5 g protein; 4.4 g carbohydrate; 0.9 g fiber; 0 milligrams (mg) cholesterol; 0.3 mg iron; 74 mg sodium; 12 mg calcium.