#FoodFocus – The Humble Chickpea

I love chickpeas! My family loves chickpeas! We call them ceci in Italian but they also go by other names such as Garbanzo beans, Egyptian peas,  Bengal gram or Kabuli chana. They are protein-packed legumes and you probably have a can or two in your cupboard. To be honest, my kids and I would eat a bunch of them right out of the can as soon as it was opened (water drained and beans rinsed, of course)! They are kind of irresistible. They have a nutty flavour, somewhat sweet and buttery but can also be a little pasty in texture.

The chickpea has its origins in the Middle East. Cultivated around 3000 BC in the Mediterranean basin, it subsequently spread to India and Ethiopia. It became very popular with Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. Today, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Ethiopia and Mexico are the main commercial producers of chickpeas (Chickpeas, n.d)

chick_peas(1)

There are 2 main types of chickpeas: 1) the light cream coloured round kabuli type and the 2) desi type, which are smaller, irregularly shaped and darker in colour ranging from tan to black. The canned type we are most familiar with is the kabuli. The dried variety is also available.

This amazing little bean helps to regulate blood sugar, is heart healthy, may contribute to weight loss by providing a feeling of fullness, contains manganese and iron for energy production, phytochemicals and folic acid for optimal health (Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas), 2016). The high protein content makes the chickpea an amazing legume and a staple in vegetarian and vegan diets. And did I mention it’s also gluten free?!?

The health benefits are many! Tons of fiber for digestive tract support, protein, concentrated supplies of phytonutrients, small but valuable amounts of Vitamins C and E and beta carotene (Chickpeas, n.d) . All in all, chickpeas are versatile and easily incorporated in lots of healthy and nutritious recipes. I hope you pick some up today!

Check out some favourite recipes here:
Pasta e Ceci (Noodles with Chickpeas)
Spicy Roasted Chickpeas
Hummus

Works Cited
Chickpeas. (n.d.). Retrieved from Natural Food Benefits: http://www.naturalfoodbenefits.com

Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas). (2001-2016). Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com: http://www.whfoods.org

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