Chickpeas – why we love them

Chickpeas (or Garbanzo beans to our friends across the pond) are, in our opinion, underrated and underappreciated. Whilst they may not be touted as a traditional superfood these little, creamy, nutty, balls of deliciousness are most definitely a super-versatile-food. The shape-shifters of the legume world, they are cheap, available all year round and you will probably celebrate another birthday before they reach their best before date. What’s more, they are rich (we’re talking Bill Gates rich) in nutrients, packing a whopping 15g of protein per cup, as well as fibre, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and ten different vitamins.

But how do I use them, you say? Fear not, lovely friends. Here’s 7 easy chick-peasy ways;

  1. Houmous

If there’s one thing the Middle East actually agrees upon, it’s houmous. From Turkey to Turkmenistan (check the map) it’s a national treasure and a diet staple. Make it yourself using a can of chickpeas, 2 tsp tahini, a clove of garlic, ½ tsp sea salt, 3 tbsp olive oil and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Add in your favourite spices to taste (we like a bit of paprika or cumin in mine) and whizz it all up in a food processor. Dress it up with coriander leaves, chickpeas or pine nuts and serve with crudites for a delicious little starter. Or if you’re like us, eat it with everything.

  1. Falafel

Let’s not mezze around – these guys are delicious, simple and a great vegetarian alternative. Move over chicken nuggets, because falafel is here to stay. Just grab a can, combine in a bowl or food processor with a finely chopped onion, 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp coriander, ¾ tsp cumin, ½ tsp salt and 2 tsp flour (use oat flour or chickpea flour to keep it gluten free) and mix until it forms a thick paste. Form into small balls, and fry in 2 inches of olive oil for a few minutes until golden brown.

Serve it up with a side of houmous (told you we eat it with everything). Honestly this is why chickpeas are so amazing. When else would you ever eat a food with a side of itself!? A-MA-ZING.

  1. Mashed chickpeas

If you’re looking for a low GI alternative to potatoes, try this for size. Heat a clove of garlic and 1 ½ tbsp of olive oil in a pan for a few minutes. Then puree a can of chickpeas in a food processor and add into the pan for about 5 minutes. Don’t forget to stir! Take off the heat and add in a tsp of salt, pepper and lemon juice. A fabulous side dish right there.

  1. Chickpea flour

Also known as Gram flour, this miracle flour can be used as a facial exfoliator (bet you didn’t see that one coming!) by mixing with water to form a paste, or as an egg replacer by combining with an equal quantity of H20. This shit is a global phenomenon – in India it is used to make bhajis, pakoras and poppadoms, In Asia they use it to make Burmese tofu and in Europe they make pancakes (known as Socca) out of the stuff. To make Socca, whisk together a cup of chickpea flour, a cup of water 1 ½ tbsp olive oil and ½ tsp salt in a bowl and let it rest for an hour or so. Then broil the batter in a skillet lined with a little olive oil until the top begins to brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, slice and serve.

  1. Chickpea salad

Quicker to make than a microwave lasagne, this makes for a scrumptious lunch or a great little side dish. Just add a pinch of cumin, coriander and salt, a couple of fresh coriander leaves and a squeeze of lemon. Pop in some finely chopped cucumber and tomato and grab a fork.

  1. Add them into your cooking!

Whether it’s a curry, a tagine or a stew, chickpeas are a great addition to any meal. They are a great way of adding in some protein into a vegetarian or vegan meal, and their consistency helps take your dish to another level. Just open a can and pour them in!

  1. Chickpea desserts

YOU CAN BAKE WITH CHICKPEAS! There are tonnes of vegan and gluten-free recipes online for cakes and cookies using chickpeas as the secret ingredient. Try these peanut butter chickpea cookies; in a food processor, combine a can of chickpeas, ½ cup peanut butter (or any other nut butter), ¼ cup maple syrup, 1 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp vanilla extract and blend until smooth. Now’s the time to stir in any nuts or chocolate chips. Bake for 10 minutes, or until slightly golden. If there’s any left, store in an airtight container.

So there you have it – it is possible to throw a dinner party and serve chickpeas at least once in every course. And thanks to their ability to be more incognito than where’s Wally wearing Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak at a masquerade ball, we bet your guests will never even know.

Love, D&H xx

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