Chickpeas, the New Superfood
Chickpeas, sometimes known as garbanzo bean, are part of the legume family and are loaded with beneficial vitamins and minerals. Starchy, inexpensive, and mild in flavor, chickpeas are becoming a popular throughout the food industry for their versatility, health benefits, and low-cost. Also a popular replacement for meat in many vegan and vegetarian dishes, chickpeas are popping up in unexpectedly delicious places as manufacturers continue to innovate with this powerful legume. Today, we’re taking a look at the many ways chickpeas can be consumed, and the flavors that make them irresistible.
Chickpea flour, made from dried and finely ground chickpeas, has become a popular replacement for traditional flour following the recently gluten-free trend. Everything from pizzas to tortillas are getting the chickpea treatment, as dough made from chickpeas is said to have fewer calories than regular flour, is packed with fiber and protein, and is naturally gluten-free making it perfect for those with special dietary needs. Pasta made from chickpea flour gives those with food sensitivities the chance to enjoy their favorite Italian dish. The flavor and texture of this unique pasta is similar to whole wheat pasta and tastes best cooked al dente. Serve with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, garlic and oil, or even butter and salt for a healthy and quick weeknight dinner.
Consumers looking for a quick bite between meals or something to munch on during the game will love the variety of chickpea-based snacks that have been making their way onto retail shelves. Chips, cheese puffs, and pretzels are all crunchy, satisfying snacks that have experienced a superfood makeover. Low on the glycemic-index, these snacks are ideal for those who need to manage blood sugar levels but can’t stay away from their favorite salty snacks. Naturally nutty from the chickpeas themselves, flavors like spicy cayenne pepper, habanero chili, and sriracha, natural sea salt and herbs, and even honey roasted keep consumers coming back for more. Recent innovations have even seen chocolate covered and cinnamon sugar chickpea snacks, with many more to come!
Aquafaba is a relatively new concept but has surged in popularity within the past few years for its unique ability to act as an egg replacer. Aquafaba is the liquid that is found in a can of cooked chickpeas and when broken down mean “aqua” for water and “faba” for beans. This unique liquid has been found to be a suitable substitute in recipes that call for egg whites, as it can be whipped to produce a similar texture to egg whites and can withstand heat. For those with an egg allergy, this opens the door to many more baked goods, like meringue cookies, pancakes, and various cakes. Aquafaba has also been seen to replace eggs in mayonnaise, butter, and dips on store shelves, making it easy for those with special needs to find products that fit within their diets.
Roasted, ground, baked, or whipped, the versatility or chickpeas make them a popular choice for many segments of consumers. We expect to see these small but powerful legumes pop up in supermarkets, menus, and pantries everywhere in the New Year.