Beans and peas are the mature forms of legumes. They include kidney beans, black beans, split peas, lentils and chickpeas. The chickpea, or most commonly known as garbanzo bean, are tiny beige balls that have frequented salad bars for years. Remains found in the Middle East almost 8,000 years ago suggest it’s one of the earliest cultivated legumes.
Chickpeas are an excellent source of plant protein and provide other nutrients such as phosphorus, iron, zinc and fiber. Because of their high protein, beans and peas are considered by many people as a vegetarian alternative for meat. The USDA recommends eating beans and peas differently depending on if they are eaten in the Protein Foods Group or the Vegetable Foods Group. However, about ½ cup of chickpeas would equal a serving size.
If scooping ½ cup of chickpeas seems bland, there are other ways to prepare them. Let’s look globally. Most commonly found in Middle Eastern cuisines, they are cooked into stews, ground into flour or mushed into paste. Two foods commonly found in the United States are falafel, a deep-fried patty made from chickpeas, and hummus, cooked and ground chickpeas mixed with tahini, a paste made from sesame seeds.
Roasted chickpeas are a unique crunchy snack, a fun substitute for the less healthy potato chip.
Have an adult open a 14-ounce can of chickpeas. Drain and rinse the chickpeas and allow to dry completely. While the chickpeas are drying, mix in a large bowl ½ teaspoon each of cumin, turmeric and chili powder. Add chickpeas to bowl and coat with seasoning. Add a teaspoon of vegetable oil to help stick. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool and enjoy.
By Amanda Iwaniec, theaters manager, Carnegie Science Center