Chickpeas for your little chickadees

01/09/2013 9:00 PM

01/08/2013 2:16 PM

I’ve always thought of my husband as a Midwestern meat-and-potatoes kind of guy and myself as the spice-loving, healthy vegetarian. In fact, though, his favorite meal is meat-free and probably one of the spiciest, most healthful dinners I regularly put on the table: chickpea curry over brown rice.

All three of my children like chickpeas, too. Hummus is a staple; we make it most weeks. Roasted chickpeas with sea salt and an array of spices are an easy snack. When I am stuck without a dinner plan, a can of chickpeas tossed with olive oil, chopped scallions and sea salt makes a great, protein-rich side dish to anything.

A few facts about this legume:

• Chickpeas are high in fiber, iron, vitamins and antioxidants.
• 20 percent of the legume is protein, a percentage comparable to meat’s.
• The Latin name for the word chickpea means “small ram” because the legume somewhat resembles a ram’s head. Other names include garbanzo bean and Egyptian pea.
• A Chinese company is attempting to patent chickpea extract as a diabetes medicine because it is shown to lower triglycerides and cholesterol, improve insulin sensitivity and regulate blood sugar.
• In some cultures, dried chickpeas are ground as coffee because they have a similarly nutty flavor.

I told my boys that chickpeas are eaten as dessert in some countries, which is true, but they didn’t take the bait. Maybe your kids will.

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