Chickpeas. Love 'em or hate 'em?
If your experience with chickpeas has been limited to salad bar topper or whirled into hummus, you definitely need to add some of my Spicy Pan-Fried Chickpeas into your life.
Why? Well, not only are they addictively delicious, but they are jam-packed with goodness for your health:
Chickpeas are carb-rich but have a low glycemic index and resistant starch that means you get slow released energy and no quick spikes in blood sugar.
They contain fibre which we need for good gut health. Some of the fibre in chickpeas helps to keep you regular. Some fibre in chickpeas is fermented by the good bacteria in your colon, producing a short chain fatty acid butyrate, that play a role in reduced inflammation and potentially reduced risk for colon cancer.
The soluble fibre in chickpeas, along with a plant sterol (natural compound) called sitosterol that can help reduce blood cholesterol, means regularly eating chickpeas may help boost heart health.
Chickpeas have plant based phytochemicals that may help to reduce risk of heart disease and certain cancers.
The slow release carbs and fibre can also help you to feel satisfied for longer after eating, which in turns helps you manage hunger.
Whew, that's a lot of goodness!
What about protein?
Chickpeas are a legume and considered a plant-based protein, and as such, are currently in the spotlight due to their positioning in the new Canada's Food Guide.
Truth-be-told, they actually have three times more carbohydrate than protein and they don't come close to the amount of protein you get from lean meats. Take a look:
A 75-gram serving of beef (which let's face it, is small for many folks) has about 26g of protein (other meats and poultry are about the same)
A 3/4 cup of chickpeas (which let's face it, can be a lot for some folks) has about 8g of protein
So if protein is your goal, you can see which food wins in that department.
That's not to say that I'm bashing chickpeas -- clearly I'm not since I'm writing a post about them -- they are nutrient-rich and all that carbohydrate is a good thing as I said above.
Food is more than just one nutrient.
We need to look at the whole goodness package. For example...chickpeas provide us with fibre (lots!). Beef doesn't. Beef provides us with Vitamin B12. Chickpeas don't (Vitamin B12 is naturally found only in animal foods)
Why am I telling you this? Well, it's my professional and personal viewpoint that we don't need to pit whole, nutrient-rich foods against each other. There's room for all of them on our plates. They all provide nutrients for good health.
You know what we should be focusing on instead?
Reducing our intake of calorie-rich, nutrient-poor, ultra-processed foods like cakes, sweetened beverages, fast food, and ready-to-heat meals. That's where 50% of our daily calories are coming from.
And how can you do that? Get into the kitchen and get cooking! (That's a positive nod to the new Food Guide -- it's encouraging Canadians to cook). If we can cook more of our meals at home with mostly whole, nutrient-rich foods, we can create a healthier plate.
Which brings me back to chickpeas...this is my super simple recipe that takes no time and little skill but delivers big in the tasty department.
And what do you do with those spicy pan-fried chickpeas? I've got you covered there too!
3 Ways With Spicy Pan-Fried Chickpeas
1. On Salad: Hot or cold on arugula with a drizzle of olive oil and splash of lemon juice.
2. In a Power Bowl with slivered red cabbage, crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds, creamy avocado, tomatoes and tangy feta cheese. Sprinkle with sea salt. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and a good quality balsamic vinegar.
3. Soup Topper: On top of a warm bowl of Lemony Roasted Cauliflower Soup with aged cheddar cheese and green onions.
Spicy Pan-Fried Chickpeas
1 can chickpeas (398ml/1 ½ cups), drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
¼ tsp chili flakes
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp coarsely ground sea salt
1. In a frying pan over medium high heat, add chickpeas, canola oil, sumac, granulated garlic, chili flakes, pepper and sea salt.
2. Stir until all chickpeas are totally coated with spice mixture. Sauté until heated through. Serve hot or cold.
Download the recipe here.
P.S. What about the toots? The fermentation of the non-digestible fibres in chickpeas can produce gas. Usually, you get used to it. If you don't eat a lot of high fibre foods, add chickpeas into your diet in small amounts at first. And drink lots of water to help the fibre work well.
Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File v 2015
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Gupta RK et al. Health Risks and Benefits of Chickpea (Cicer arietinum) Consumption. J Agric Food Chem. 2016 Dec 23;65(1):6-22.
Singh B et al. Bioactive constituents in pulses and their health benefits. J Food Sci Technol. 2017 Mar 1;54(4):858-70.
Wallace TC et al. The Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Chickpeas and Hummus. Nutrients. 2016 Dec; 8(12): 766.
Stats Canada. Health Fact Sheets; Nutrient intakes from food, 2015.
Moubarac JC. Ultra-processed foods in Canada: consumption, impact on dietary quality and policy implications. Monteal: TRANSNUT, University of Montreal; Dec 2107.