Chickpeas are a very affordable, versatile source of quality protein and carbohydrate energy. Keep canned chickpeas in the pantry. Open, drain, rinse, then toss into salads, mash with avocado as a sandwich spread or even sprinkle a few on a homemade pizza.
Light Lemony Spring Herb Hummus
- In a food processor, combine all ingredients except green onion. Pulse to combine just until chickpeas are chopped and hummus forms. Stop before texture becomes smooth and creamy.
- Transfer hummus to serving dish and garnish with finely chopped green onion. Refrigerate until serving.
- Serve with a plate of fresh vegetables and/or grainy crackers. Hummus also works well as a sandwich spread or tucked in a pita along with crisp vegetables
- Makes: 2 cups (500 mL)
Chickpeas are high in protein, fibre, and complex carbohydrates, have high levels of minerals like iron, calcium, zinc and vitamins, and are low in fat. Chickpeas are pulses – the dry, edible seeds of plants in the legume family. Legumes are plants with the fruit enclosed in a pod.
Canadian farmers grow two varieties of chickpeas: Desi and Kabuli. Kabuli is the most popular and is also known by its more common name: garbanzo beans. Chickpeas can be a challenging crop to grow in Canada because they require a long growing season and the high risk of disease. Ascochyta blight is the most common disease for chickpeas and it can be devastating – potentially wiping out up to 90 per cent of the crop if it is not controlled.
To protect the crop, farmers use a fungicide, a type of pesticide that protects crops from becoming infected with a disease or cures the disease in the early part of infection.
Cherilyn Nagel farms in Saskatchewan, where the most chickpeas are grown in Canada. She says pest control products are crucial for protecting crops from pests, but adds “it’s in our best interest to ensure the products are used responsibly. At the end of the day, we want to have healthy, safe abundant food and leave our soil in better condition than when we started.”
Chickpea plants form root nodules where bacteria take nitrogen from the air and convert it into fertilizer which helps feed the plant. This process makes legumes like chickpeas an excellent source of plant protein. It’s also good for the environment because when the plant is harvested, the plant material left in the field releases the remaining nitrogen in the plant back into the soil and acts as fertilizer for next year’s crop.