Chick Peas, Garbanzo Beans, Ceci Beans, Nahit: A Healthy Diet Food

by lakeerieartists

Chick peas are legumes that are extremely high in protein, and low in fat.

You do not have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the taste and texture of chick peas (also called garbanzo beans, nahit, Indian peas, ceci beans, Bengal grams) by themselves as a snack or as part of a recipe. Chick peas are legumes that are extremely high in protein, and low in fat.

Chick peas have been used in recipes around the world for thousands of years, and are one of the first cultivated foods.

Chick peas add nutrition and texture to any meal

Vivid Dinner (vegetable soup) Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dichohecho/3805969182/Mild in flavor, chick peas add nutrition and texture to a recipe, and are very versatile because they can be blended easily with herbs, spices, and other vegetables to change their flavor.

An example of this is the multitude of hummus recipes available. The basic hummus recipe is blending crushed or finely chopped chick peas, and olive oil to create a spread or paste. However, you can add many different ingredients to hummus from simple fresh or roasted garlic to sun dried tomatoes to just about any type of fresh or dried herb to change the flavor.

Preparing chickpeas

You can buy chickpeas in most places both canned or dry. Canned chickpeas are the easiest to work with because they are already cooked, and ready to throw in a salad, or stew, or just eat as is. Unfortunately, most canned chickpeas are canned in a salty broth, or salty water, which reduces the health benefit of eating them.

My preferred method of buying chickpeas is dried. Dried chickpeas can generally be purchased bulk, or in 1/2 pound or 1 pound bags. Dried chickpeas have a very long shelf life, and do not need to be refrigerated. If you plan to keep chickpeas on your shelf for a while, a good preventative measure for keeping bugs from getting into your bags of chick peas is to put a dried bay leaf or two in your dried chickpeas. The bay leaves will keep your stored dry goods bug free.

To prepare the dried chickpeas, soak them in room temperature water overnight. Make sure that you put about twice as much water in the bowl as chickpeas. The chickpeas will soak up the water and expand to approximately twice the size that they are dry. Drain the water from the soaked chickpeas then put the chickpeas in a pot with fresh water covering them. Bring the water to a boil. When the water boils, you will notice a frothy residue forming at the top of the water. Turn the water to a simmer, and remove the residue from the water until it is gone. Continue to simmer until the chickpeas are fully cooked, usually about 30 minutes. The chickpeas should be easily bitten into or smashed. Once the chickpeas are fully cooked, drain the water again, and put them in a container with fresh water. They will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days, and they last longer if you change the water that they are sitting in every day.

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Recipes for chick peas

Besides the hummus recipe mentioned above, there are literally recipes from just about every culture in the world that include chick peas. Because chick peas are very mild, they blend with almost every other flavor that you can imagine, and chick peas make a good addition to many soups or stews. You can find chick peas recipes in Jewish cookbooks, Indian cookbooks, Moroccan cookbooks, and most Mediterranean cookbooks.

One of my favorite recipes for chick peas can be found in the original Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, which is the first vegetarian cookbook I ever read, and still a staple on my book shelf. Mollie Katzen has a wonderful tabouli recipe, which lists chick peas as an optional item. With chick peas added, the tabouli is a complete vegetarian protein. Besides the tabouli recipe, there are several other recipes in the Moosewood Cookbook which include chick peas.

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Versatility of chick peas

One of the things that makes chick peas so sought after in recipes is the versatility of chick peas. While you can eat them as is, or added to a recipe in whole form, you can also eat them hot or cold, mashed or chopped, or made into a paste or flour.

You can used chick peas in salads, stews, or soups, or you can mash them in with other ingredients to create a burger or pancake. And as mentioned above, they are ideal to create or add to other ingredients to make a dip or spread.

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Chick peas are inexpensive and last for a long time

Chick peas are one of the cheapest foods in the world. You can buy a pound of dried chickpeas for just a couple of dollars, and with some water and a grain, create an entire meal. Chick peas also do not need special storage until they are cooked, and that makes them perfect for camping, rustic settings, or for taking on a long voyage. All in all, I guess you can say that chick peas are one of the world's most perfect foods.

Updated: 10/01/2014, lakeerieartists
 
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Holistic_Health on 10/20/2011

The picture of that stew looks so good . . .

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