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all about chickpeas

by Sandy Todd Webster on Aug 23, 2011

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.

Chickpea Facts

  • 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.

Healthy Hummus

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.

Source: Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light magazine.

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About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.