Chickpeas are a delicious and healthy ingredient that is eaten all around the world. In this guide, you'll learn about their nutritional information, how to cook with them, recipes to try out, and more!
💭 What are chickpeas?
Chickpeas are a member of the legume family, so they are similar in size and texture to beans and peas. They are a bit larger than peas, and a bit more misshapen, with a light tan color. Originating in the Middle East 7500 years ago, they are one of the world's oldest cultivated crops. They are very common in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisine. You've most likely had them in hummus, where they are a key ingredient, and in falafel.
In the United States, they are often roasted until crunchy, making them a popular healthy snack. They are also used in many soups and salad recipes and are used to make vegetarian burgers. It's also becoming popular for pasta to be made out of chickpea flour, instead of wheat flour. Chickpea pasta is gluten-free, low carb, and high protein. I can find this pasta in my local grocery store, but if it's not available to you, you can purchase it online here.
Chickpeas vs Garbanzo Beans
Chickpeas are actually the exact same thing as Garbanzo Beans "Chickpeas" is the English term for the legume, while "Garbanzo" is the Spanish term. In my experience here in the United States, the beans are usually labeled "Garbanzo" when they are canned, and "Chickpeas" when they are dried. Who knows why the powers that be have decided to confuse us all by doing this.
Chickpea and Garbanzo are not the only popular name for this legume. In Asia, they are known as "Chana" and are a very common ingredient, especially in Indian food. Next time you're at an Indian restaurant or following an Indian recipe, know that chana is just another name for chickpeas.
Chickpeas can often be substituted with other members of the legume family, depending on the recipe. If you need a substitute in hummus, I would recommend using another white bean, like Cannellini or Great Northern. In soups, most other beans can easily be substituted. Green peas and lentils can also be a substitute in soups and salads.
Packed with Nutrients
Because these legumes contain a high amount of nutrients like manganese, folate, and zinc, many claim they are great for supporting hair growth. If you are interested in finding out more, check out "Chickpeas for Hair Loss: Everything You Need to Know."
High in Protein
Garbanzo beans are a great source of plant-based protein! In a 1 cup serving, you're getting 11 grams of protein. Plant-based sources of protein are great because they usually contain less fat and more fiber than animal-based proteins. This is great for your health in general, but also for weight loss. Plus, plant-based protein has a smaller carbon footprint, meaning the way it was produced is better for the environment.
High in Carbohydrates
Like other legumes, chickpeas are high in carbohydrates. Sometimes carbs get a bad wrap, but there is a difference between healthy carbs and empty carbs. Empty carbs are highly processed, offer little nutrition, and have a lot of sugar. Healthy carbs give your body the energy it needs to function. Because chickpeas are full of nutrients, fiber, and protein, they are healthy carbohydrates.
Unfortunately, chickpeas are not part of a low-carb diet or allowed on the Keto diet.
High in Fiber
These tasty legumes are also high in fiber, which means they'll help with digestion and help keep blood sugars in check. Chickpeas have a fairly low glycemic index.
Chickpeas are gluten-free and chickpea flour is increasingly becoming a popular substitute for flour in gluten-free recipes. It is also often used in Middle Eastern and Asian recipes. It is becoming easier to find chickpea flour at the store, but you can also make it yourself. Check out "How to Make Chickpea Flour" from Alpha Foodie, if you are interested in doing this.
🍲 How to Cook
In the United States, garbanzo beans can be purchased in 2 different ways: canned or dried. If you have canned garbanzo beans, they do not need to be cooked before use. You can add them straight into the recipe you are using, however, you'll most likely want to drain and rinse them first.
If you have dried garbanzo beans, they will need to be softened and cooked before they are used. Uncooked garbanzo beans contain toxins that can make a person sick. High heat will remove toxins from the legumes, making them safe to eat. In my opinion, freshly cooked garbanzos taste infinitely better than canned.
It's a good idea to soak chickpeas in cool water for several hours prior to cooking. Not only does this help remove toxins, soaking speeds up cooking time, reduces gas, and prevents your beans from splitting. After soaking, chickpeas should be rinsed in cool water, and the soaking water should be discarded.
After soaking, the chickpeas need more time in water and heat to become fully cooked. This is can be done in a variety of ways:
For more information about the ins and outs of preparing the perfect dried bean, check out our dried bean guide!
Once your beans are heated and soft they are ready to be added to your recipe! Chickpeas are a great addition to soups and salads; they can be roasted into a crunchy snack, or creamed to make a tasty hummus.
Dried Chickpeas are best stored in airtight containers, away from sunlight. My favorite way is in a large mason jar.
Cooked chickpeas can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days, or for months in the freezer. I like to freeze cooked garbanzo beans in reuseable ziplock bags. (As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying orders, at no cost to you. Thanks for supporting The Incredible Bulks). Just make sure they are completely cool before freezing. If you put them in the freezer warm, steam will gather in the bags and turn into freezer burn.
Check out my Chickpea Pinterest Board for even more ideas!
I hope you've learned a lot about chickpeas and have been inspired to eat them more often!
Tell me your favorite way to eat chickpeas in the comments!