Level up on legumes

Chickpeas on a baking sheet
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This blog post was written by Illinois State University graduate student and dietetic intern, Kayla Kaspari. 

Garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, are a part of the legume family and are grown similarly to soybeans or peas. These plants produce edible seeds, called pulses, that have high nutritional value. They are a cousin of black beans, lima beans, kidney beans, and peanuts. You may know chickpeas better for their presence as the main ingredient in hummus. They have a mild nutty flavor and a firm texture that when ground makes a creamy and delicious dip.

You can find chickpeas both canned and dried. Rinse and drain canned chickpeas before adding them as an ingredient. This will remove around 30-40% of the sodium in canned chickpeas. Chickpeas are not a significant source of sodium unless added. To avoid the sodium, look for no sodium or low sodium canned options. And don’t throw out the chickpea liquid from canned chickpeas or dried chickpeas that you cooked. Chickpea liquid is called aquafaba and is a thick liquid that contains a mixture of starch and trace amounts of protein. Aquafaba has binding, emulsifying, and thickening properties that work well in a variety of recipes, specifically in the place of eggs. 1 tablespoon of aquafaba is equivalent to 1 egg yolk, while 2 tablespoons are equal to 1 egg white, and 3 tablespoons is equal to one full egg. The liquid also works as a substitute to the eggs in meringues and mayonnaise as it is easily whipped.

The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans promotes increased vegetable intake, in addition to more energy-dense foods, particularly legumes. Chickpeas contain around 130 calories per half-cup. In that same half cup, they have 6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbohydrates, and 2 grams of fat with a wide variety of minerals, including iron and folate giving them a strong and diverse nutritional composition. It is recommended to consume 1.5 cups of legumes per week.

You can meet the recommended intake of legumes by consuming 4 tablespoons of chickpea-based hummus per day as that provides 2 cups of legumes per week. Hummus is a nutrient-dense dip made from cooked chickpeas that are blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. Consuming hummus increases your intake of dietary fiber, polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, potassium, and iron. This legume is a staple of many diets and can be incorporated into yours!


Hummus (Printable PDF)

1 (15 oz.) can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

2 Tablespoons Tahini

2 teaspoons lemon juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves

1 ½ Tablespoons water

Optional add-ins * Cumin, paprika, or hot sauce

Blend all the ingredients in a blender. Serve with cut vegetables, pita chips, or as a spread.

Yield: 10 servings


Nutrition Facts (per serving): 90 calories, 7 grams fat, 125 milligrams sodium, 7 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams protein