Confession: I love to snack. I wish I could eat chips, crackers, and other crunchy delights all the time! As I have aged, however, my body has become less forgiving of junk food. I’m always looking for things I can nosh on that won’t add inches to my waistline. It’s not always easy, though. Fresh veggies take a lot of effort to prep before eating. Snacks that are specifically marketed as “healthy” are usually over-processed and not nutritious. I love seeds and nuts, but they can be loaded with salt or fat. It took awhile, but I finally found a pretty easy solution! Chickpeas!
The little protein powerhouse
The nutritional value of chickpeas is off the chain. One cup of cooked chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber. Foods high in protein and fiber can keep you fuller for longer. They might seem a little high in calories (296 in the aforementioned cooked cup), but they offset that by being a great source of iron, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, and other minerals. Think of it this way, if you’re going to eat 300 calories, isn’t it better to get it from something with all those nutritional benefits rather than the stale cheese crackers sitting in your pantry?
A little prep goes a long way
I know I complained about prep, but this is pretty easy. I used canned chickpeas because it’s faster than using dried. However, canned chickpeas often still have the skin on them and I like to remove it before cooking. I used to do it by basically peeling each chickpea by hand. UGH. Luckily, there is a MUCH easier way! Drain one 14 oz can of chickpeas and stir in 1 ½ teaspoons of baking soda. Cook the chickpeas on your stove top on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Rinse them in cold water, three or four times, while simultaneously rubbing them between your hands. The skins should come right off in the water.
Time to cook!
So, now that we have our skinless chickpeas, let’s cook ’em up! Spread the chickpeas on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Cook at 450 F for 30 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and toss with 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season them to your heart’s desire – I love to use salt and chili powder, but you can use cinnamon and brown sugar, salt and pepper, garlic salt and cayenne pepper… The sky’s the limit!
One warning – these little legumes are addictive! Once you’ve tried them out and find a kind you like, make a huge batch and keep them in an airtight container. They may not be as good as when they’re fresh out of the oven, but they should last 3-4 days. Or at least until the next snack craving hits!