Friday's Fav... Chickpeas

After tossing this favorite in my head all week, I finally reasoned with myself and made it my Friday's favorite. Although it may not seem too appealing for some at first, at our house it is definitely one of the whole family's all-time favorite snack food ~ mostly when used as hummus.

Chickpeas, or garbanzo bean, is latin for "little ram" because its shape is similar to that of a ram. It originated in the Middle East then spread to African and Indian cultures, but now its popularity has spread all over the world.

To give you a little background, I was not always concerned about health. I was raised in a home where frozen and processed foods were used quite regularly and for the most part, we were fairly healthy. But as I began my nursing career and started to see similarities between poor diet choices and poor health, I took mental notes.

I remember taking care of a sweet lady at a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona. She was admitted because of an accident, but during the time I had her as a patient, I gleaned a ton of inspiration. To this day, I still think about her and how her healthy and "clean" diet made a huge impact on me. She and her husband were physicists and the picture of perfect health. "Skinny", "attractive", "athletic" would be adjectives to describe them both. When her husband came in to visit, he brought her fresh fruits and vegetables and also her daily vitamins and supplements. She did not eat the hospital food. I was connecting the dots and seeing that what she was putting in her body was not only making a difference on the inside, but the outside too. I wanted that!

So back to chickpeas... sometimes the things we know we should put in our bodies, at a glance, may not be our first choice. But if we truly think about, know about what we are eating, the choices should not be so hard. Chickpeas are a powerhouse of nutrition, in my opinion. I love eating things that contain a ton of nutrients all in one. They are like the diamonds in the rough of our pantries. Chickpeas have a smooth, nutty-buttery taste that even my baby enjoys. And not to mention, super cheap at around $.89 a can.

The first nutrient worth noting in chickpeas is fiber. In just one cup you are getting half of the daily value needed. It also contains both types of fiber, insoluble and soluble. Both help to remove toxic waste in the bowels, regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol and promote an optimal ph level to prevent microbes from producing cancerous substances.

Next, they contain iron and folate both used on the cellular level to promote healthy blood cell functions. Folate, a b-vitamin, is also known to decrease the risk of birth defects in newborns if the mother has the adequate amount during pregnancy. Along with anemia, iron helps with hair loss, energy, and headaches.

The last ingredient in chickpeas to get pumped about is magnesium. Most American diets are extremely low in this mineral which has been known to be linked to the following diseases: diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, many mental and mood disorders, insomnia, cramps, neck and back pain, heart arrhythmias, strokes, fibromyalgia, arthritis and many more. Chickpeas are also high in zinc which is known to help migraines. Now how can you not want to eat some chickpeas after reading all that!

Here are a few ways you can incorporate chickpeas into your family's diet...

Salad... Romaine or spinach leaves, tons of veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots), sunflower seeds, whole, from the can (rinsed) chickpeas... with a light vinegarette, of course.

Hummus... Like I said, we mostly enjoy chickpeas when they are pureed into a beautiful substance called hummus. I generally do not make my own, because I don't always make the time to do it... although I should. My favorite brand is by Sabra. It is extremely smooth and every flavor they offer is amazing and quite honestly, addicting. Hummus is wonderful when dipped with celery or carrot sticks, cucumbers, tortilla or pita chips and our family's favorite... veggies stix like these.

Chana Masala... Ok, I know you might be stepping into some crazy, new waters with this one, but if you are open to new, bold flavors, I dare you to try this recipe found here. I was introduced to Indian food by my close friend who went to Uganda to adopt... there she found a love for Indian food while eating at the food markets. When she came back, she convinced me to visit an Indian restaurant with her and I instantly fell in love with the flavors and not to mention the way they did magic on the chickpeas.

I'll leave you with a recipe for hummus. I have only made hummus once mostly because I'm short on time plus I heart Sabra... but here is the recipe I have used.

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans

1/4 c. olive oil

1 1/2 T. tahini paste

1 garlic clove

1 T. lemon juice

1/2 t. salt

Few tablespoons of water...

Throw into a food processor and process until smooth. The mixture might be a bit thick and hard to process so you can add the water or a bit more olive oil until it is very smooth and creamy.

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