Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Gobble Up Some Garbanzos: Chickpeas, That Is!

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Ever been to the salad bar at a Ruby Tuesdays? Then you, my friend, can surely recognize the hidden gem at the bar - garbanzo beans! You can find them sitting there in a big friendly pile, waiting to be chosen for your salad. Just WAITING to do amazing things for your body! Who knew they were such helpers?!

Garbanzo beans have been around for a very long time, since 3000 BC to be exact. They were originally cultivated in the Mediterranean basin and quickly spread throughout the world. The Latin term for garbanzo beans is Cicer arietinum, which means 'small ram', because if you look closely, they sort of resemble a ram's head. How cute is that?! They're slightly nutty and a bit buttery in taste, making them a great addition to many dishes.

But aside from their great taste, good looks and all that other jazz, here's why you should work them into your diet...
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PROTEIN PACKED - Your body needs protein to carry out it's daily functions. When eaten with whole grains, garbanzo beans offer a protein source comparable to the protein you get from meat and dairy - just without all the saturated fat! 1 cup of garbanzo beans is equal to almost 30% of your daily protein requirements.

FULL OF FIBER - And it's not just any fiber! Studies have suggested that the fiber from garbanzo beans seems to be more effective in regulating blood fat (ie. lowering levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides). Just 2 cups provide your entire Daily Value! 

POTASSIUM POWERHOUSE - Garbanzo beans are rich in potassium, which your body needs for heart and kidney health. The magnesium in garbanzo beans also works with the potassium to support kidney function and improve blood flow.

FLAVENOID FACTOR - Flavenoids work as antioxidants, preventing cell damage throughout the body. Garbanzo beans are packed with them. This is great news for menopausal women especially because flavenoids can also help to relieve the symptoms of menopause (take a hike, hot flashes!). 

THREE CHEERS FOR THIAMIN - Your body needs thiamin (or B1) for brain health. Thiamin plays a major role in regulating your mood and mental health.

Now if there's one thing that can change my mood, it's hummus! Hummus is already easy to love, but when you consider the benefits your body is getting from the main ingredient - garbanzo beans - you can feel good about snacking on it! 

Here's a quick and easy hummus and homemade pita chip play-by-play...

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take whole wheat pitas and split in half, then tear into chip-size pieces.
Arrange on a baking dish and brush lightly with olive oil.
Grab your spices and sprinkle the chips to taste. I prefer a generous sprinkle of basil and garlic salt.
Bake 10 minutes or until slightly brown and crispy.
While the chips are baking. Grab your hummus ingredients: 2 cans of garbanzo beans (rinsed and drained),
2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste), 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice, 2 Tbs. olive olive,
and salt and pepper (to taste).
Combine garbanzo beans and garlic in a food processor or blender. Pulse a few times before adding 1/2 cup water
and the above ingredients. Blend until smooth.
I spiced my hummus up with a drizzle of olive oil and some paprika for color. You can also sprinkle with basil or
the leftover za'atar seasoning from yesterday's eggplant recipe (this will add so much flavor to your hummus). You
can also get creative with it and add roasted garlic, roasted red peppers, artichokes... whatever your heart desires!

If you're not into hummus, that's ok! Here are two more fantastic recipes that incorporate garbanzo beans...

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