Garbanzo beans originated in the Middle East, and were first cultivated approximately 3000 BC. They were grown by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and were very popular among these cultures. During the 16th century, garbanzo beans were brought to other subtropical regions of the world by both Spanish and Portuguese explorers. Today, the main commercial producers of garbanzos are India, Pakistan, Turkey, Ethiopia and Mexico.
Garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) have a delicious nutlike taste and buttery texture. They provide a concentrated source of protein that can be enjoyed year-round and are available either dried or canned. It is a very versatile legume and is a prominent ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes such as hummus, falafels and curries.
A ½ cup serving of garbanzos or chickpeas contains 130 calories, 6 g of fiber and 7 g of protein. They are naturally very low in fat and sodium. Garbanzo beans or chickpeas lower your risk of heart disease and may reduce your risk of colon cancer. Roasted chickpeas are a healthy treat and are a smart alternative to chips and other high-fat snacks.
Chickpeas are an excellent source of soluble fiber. In fact, one cup of these nutty tasting legumes supplies almost half a day’s requirement for fiber. The type of soluble fiber found in chickpeas is not only heart-healthy, but also helps to stabilize blood sugars. Studies have also shown that legumes such as chickpeas help to lower cholesterol levels. Their high fiber content makes them satisfying and filling.
They’re a good source of protein with fifteen grams in a single cup. When combined with a whole grain such as brown rice, you get a complete protein source with all nine essential amino acids without the calories and fat found in most animal protein sources. Chickpeas are also a tasty addition to the vegetarian dinner table.
They also help to counteract sulfites in the diet. One unusual health property of chickpeas is their high molybdenum content. Molybdenum is a trace mineral that helps to detoxify sulfites and helps the liver to detoxify more efficiently.
Chickpeas are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that’s a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin plays an important role in regulating both mood and sleep. Many experts recommend eating tryptophan containing foods at bedtime for calmness and to help facilitate sleep. A bowl of chickpeas is a natural way to get the tryptophan needed for sweet dreams and a good night’s sleep.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
Dried garbanzos are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins. Whether purchasing garbanzo beans in bulk or in a packaged container, make sure that there is no evidence of moisture or insect damage and that they are whole and not cracked.
While canned garbanzo beans may be more convenient, there is a concern about the BPA that is used in the lining of many canned foods. Some manufacturers do not use BPA-lined cans and it is worth seeking these out. Once you remove the beans from the can, place them in a strainer and rinse them thoroughly.
Store dried garbanzo beans in an airtight container in a cool, dry and dark place where they will keep for up to a year. Cooked garbanzo beans will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a covered container.
Soak dried chickpeas overnight in a pot of water, then rinse them well, add fresh water and boil on the stove until tender. You may also use a pressure cooker for cooking chickpeas, bringing to a boil on high, then turning down to medium-low for about 45 minutes.
Chickpeas may be stored in your freezer using plastic containers or in quart-size, durable freezer bags once they are cooked. Simply follow your desired recipe and then allow cooling thoroughly. Separate into the serving size you desire and store in your freezer for up to six months. To use let it thaw first and then reheat on the stove or use thawed garbanzos in your salad.
Freezing chickpeas and other healthy meals may make it easier to keep on track with your nutrition goals. Preparing a large batch of chickpeas on the stove and then freezing can help you save time and stick to your healthy eating goals. When you cook up a recipe with chickpeas, or prepare chickpeas on their own, they can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days. However, freezing them allows you to create convenient precooked meals that can be stored for a longer time and used when you need them.