Meet the Fabaceae Family
Chickpeas are part of the Fabaceae family, which is part of a large group of plants commonly known as legumes. Chickpeas are grown mainly in India, Asia, Pakistan and the Mediterranean. Chickpeas are often used in salads and stews. They can also be modified and used in many various forms.
Ground chickpeas are used to create chickpea flour, which is also called gram flour. Ground, molded chickpeas are used in falafels - a very popular vegetarian dish - while cooked and ground chickpeas form a paste, commonly known as hummus.
Bean flours offer a delicious and nutritious (gluten-free) alternative to starchy staples, and play a supporting role in a meal as bread's gluten-free understudy. Take chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour for example: 1/4 cup contains 110 calories, 6g protein, 18g of carbohydrate (of which a hefty 5g is fiber) and an impressive 10% of the daily value for iron. Compare that to 1/4 cup of (whole) brown rice flour, which contains 140 calories, 3g of protein, 31g of carbohydrate (of which only 1g is fiber) and 4% of the daily value for iron.
Chickpea flour even edges out whole wheat flour nutritionally: it has 2g more protein and 1g more fiber in that same 110 calorie, 1/4 cup serving. Which makes it a great stand-in for plain wheat flour in recipes for breaded fish or chicken that call for a bit of a flour and egg dredging.
Chickpeas are a good source of folate and protein. Folate is a water soluble B vitamin that occurs naturally in food, which, according to the New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, may help to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.
Chickpeas are also very high in dietary fiber and thus are a source of carbohydrates for people with insulin sensitivity or diabetes. They are low in fat, and most of the fat content is polyunsaturated.
Contributing to the high total fiber content in raw bean flours, particularly white bean, lentil and chickpea flours contain unique types of fiber called "resistant starch." This unique type of starch resists digestion in your small intestine, and therefore it can't be absorbed for energy like a normal "starch." As a result, it does not produce a glycemic (blood sugar) response; in fact, research shows that eating the type of resistant starch found in beans will actually blunt the blood sugar and insulin response after a meal.
Chickpeas are also a significant source of calcium. Some sources quote it as equal to yogurt and close to milk.
Chickpeas also contain high mineral content. According to the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, on an average, chickpea seed contains:
Whole grains and beans are the primary sources of resistant starch in our diets, and raw bean flours are an excellent source of this beneficial type of fiber.
Chick Pea Bread Recipe
2 cups chick peas sprouted
2 cups wheat sprouts
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 garlic clove, pressed
Grind, blend or homogenize the grain. Add spice and spread batter 1/4-inch thick on a dehydrator tray prepared with parchment paper. Dehydrate at less than 110 degrees until thoroughly dry-12 to 24 hours depending on the number of trays drying and the humidity of the room. Store in a tight closed container.
Chickpeas with Onions and Raisins
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped red onions
2 tablespoons raisins
2 15-ounce cans chickpeans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and raisins. Cook until onions start to soften, about four to five minutes. Stir in chickpeas. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about two to three minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro. Recipe makes six servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 133 calories, 5g protein, 20g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 4g fat, 0 saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 119mg sodium.
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