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Chickpeas Benefits and Uses Demystified

Chickpeas are tasty AND good for you? Shut the front door!

Chickpeas, what’s the big rave about anyway? If you’re asking yourself that question, you’ve clearly not tried them. Read on to get the chickpea 101 out of this post. As for the rest of our readers, get ready for the good and the bad.

Are chickpeas good for you?

That could be a trick question since good for you is not the same as good for weight loss. With chickpeas, it’s good for you all the way. High in fibre and protein, chickpeas are also loaded with essential vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc and B vitamins. So what does that all mean?

This high-fibre food offers the following benefits:

  • your blood glucose level, highly beneficial for those with diabetes

  • makes your heart stronger

  • keeps you regular

  • helps patients with Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to increase their fibre intake

  • keep your colon healthy

  • lowers your cholesterol

High-protein foods like chickpeas have the following benefits:

  • reduce appetite and helps with weight management

  • keep you full longer, which prevents you from snacking on empty calories or unhealthy food

  • maintain the health of your body's tissues

Known to help fight diseases, these ancient beans are often used in healing diets, as they offer the following benefits:

  • help build your bone structure and make your bones stronger

  • ensure a low blood pressure with a low-salt intake

  • prevent cancer by detoxifying some cancer-causing compounds in the body

  • promote healthy complexion and healthful hair

  • give you energy

  • Loaded with vitamins, chickpeas contain phosphate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin K and B vitamins.

Any red flags?

So, here’s the whole truth. Chickpeas are awesome and a must for every diet, well, just about. Beware of these signs or side effects!

1. Don’t eat raw chickpeas

According to Medical News Today, it is not recommended to eat raw chickpeas. Cooking helps reduce toxins and anti-nutrients that raw chickpeas contain.

2. Chickpeas may cause bloating

Despite their health benefits, chickpeas, like other beans, may cause bloating. Bloating is caused by raffinose, a type of sugar found in chickpeas, which your body has a tough time breaking down. If you feel bloated after eating chickpeas, simply cut back on how often and how much of it you eat.

3. Chickpeas are a source of incomplete protein

A cup of chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein. Protein is made up of a slew of amino acids, but chickpeas do not offer every amino acid your body needs. When you have chickpeas, we recommend that you combine them with nuts, whole grains, yogurt, eggs or meat.

4. IBS with Low-FODMAP diet

FODMAP is a type of dietary therapy for people with IBS. Anyone that is following a low-FODMAP diet should avoid eating chickpeas.

Hummus and Beyond!

The most versatile of beans are the chickpeas. Featured extensively in the Mediterranean diet and Middle-Eastern food, chickpeas are a great source of protein for the vegan and vegetarian diets. They are also gluten free, which makes them ridiculously versatile and adaptable. And for the ladies who know about food restrictions during pregnancy all too well, chickpeas might just be the thing to bring glory back to your meals.

Five Middle-Eastern ways to enjoy chickpeas

There are plenty of recipes on how to cook and enjoy chickpeas. We have put together a list of authentic Lebanese meals with chickpeas, including hummus. Keep in mind that with each of these meals, we tend to use pita bread and a ton of vegetables like mint, cucumber, radish, white or green onion and a sprinkle of parsley. Let’s get to it… we hope you are tempted to try these tiny little garbanzo beans the Middle Eastern way…

1. Hummus

All too familiar, hummus has made a name for itself in just about any household in the city and is well recognized as a healthy snack for children and adults alike. Thanks to the Western influence, we now use hummus as a dip with our veggies or pita chips. Traditionally however, hummus is a side dish, not so much a dip. We sprinkle olive oil on top and scoop it up with a bite size pita. We often enjoy a side veggie with it but it’s mainly had with soft pita bread. As a side dish, it goes with just about any dish. Some of us are even guilty of spreading hummus on a pita and rolling it into a wrap. A cucumber can go in the wrap or on the side.

2. Foul Medamas

Credit: The Lebanese Plate

Traditionally a breakfast meal, Foul Medamas could be had any time of the day. If you’re looking for a quick and easy meal, used canned fava beans and canned chickpeas. Mix together in a pot over medium heat. If you plan this, you would need to soak the beans and chickpeas overnight and boil them in the morning. Either way you choose, while cooking or heating the beans, prepare the mashed garlic and lemon juice and wash and chop some side vegetables as mentioned earlier (tomatoes and white onion work great). Then mix together top with olive oil and enjoy, with pita of course. You may want to follow a more eloquent recipe the first time around. After that, you’ll be able to whip this up in no time.

3. Balila

Credit: Cook Pad

Balila is similar to foul medamas but without the fava beans. It’s just chickpeas. You can have it hot or cold and it keeps in the fridge for a few days. It’s basically cooked chickpeas (canned or soaked overnight and boiled the next day), partially drained and mixed with garlic, lemon and olive oil. For extra flavour, use cumin and a sprinkle of caraway. It makes a great side to your meat, fish or chicken and a great lunch size salad. Here’s a balila recipe that we liked.

4. Rice with meat and chickpeas:

Credit: Genius Kitchen

A quick and easy family meal that your kids will surely love, this rice (rooz) with (ma) ground beef (lahem) and chickpeas meal the pasta of the Middle East. The list of ingredients is simple: rice, ground beef and chickpeas with diced onion and garlic, and of course the spices (allspice, salt and pepper, and cinnamon). Try it once and you’ll want to repeat.

5. Moghrabieh

Credit: Taste of Beirut

Also easy to make, moghrabieh takes more time to prepare. The ingredients are simple with pearl couscous and chickpeas being at the heart of it, along with the meat of choice. This meal is considered a fancy Lebanese meal, often prepared for the Sunday family gatherings and on holidays. You can make it with lamb, beef (even a roast) and/or chicken. It is rich in flavour, as the large couscous, once boiled and drained (a lot like pasta), is then soaked and mixed in the meat broth. You can also buy the Moghrabieh spices already mixed or pick up each spice separately. It looks and tastes heavenly and the leftovers retain their flavour even when heated in the microwave. Get fancy with the chickpeas!

Share the Chickpeas

Got ideas of your own? We’d love to hear them. Whether you’re inspired by the chef in you or the convenience of putting together a quick and easy meal, your influences on recipes can create savoury magic for us all. Also, if you have questions for us or are looking for any of the ingredients used with chickpeas, drop us a note or drop by . Someone will always be here to help.


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