I don’t like to write on an empty stomach, so I just finished a tempeh-bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich on toasted sourdough bread with turmeric vegenaise. When people are not familiar with a vegan diet and all of the vast and varied menus we can create, they tend to think we eat lettuce and potatoes and well…not much of anything else. I’m here to tell you that vegans eat some of the most extraordinary meals that are delicious, satisfying, filling, healthy and compassionate. We don’t sacrifice…we’re foodies too!
One of my personal favorite foods to create with is the garbanzo bean, a.k.a. the chickpea. These tasty members of the pea family are also called ceci in Italy, kichererbse in Germany, and revithia in Greece. Whatever country they are served in, they are always versatile and can be used in an infinite assortment of culinary dishes, casual or fancy. These little legumes have a nutty taste, a creamy texture and they compliment a variety of other flavors.
The chickpea is the legume with the longest history – it’s 7500 years old! Originating in the Middle East, it is grown in the Mediterranean, Western Asia (and the Indian subcontinent,) and Australia. Most of the world’s chickpeas are grown in India.
Chickpeas are rich in carbohydrates, proteins, phosphorus, calcium and iron. A nutritional powerhouse! It is also a good source of zinc, manganese and folate. With 12.5 grams of fiber per cup, the garbanzo is an excellent digestive tract supporter. Eating chickpeas can help with any weight loss program, as they are low in fat and help you feel full and satisfied.
If it’s a good night’s sleep you’re after, chickpeas may be the answer. They are rich in tryptophan, which is an amino acid and a precursor to serotonin that can increase sleepiness and decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Those who suffer from insomnia typically see improvements in the time they are able to stay asleep when they increase their tryptophan intake. (http://www.med-health.net/Foods-High-In-Tryptophan.html) Chickpeas are the natural and cruelty-free way to drift into pleasant dreams.
Many people do not know the versatility of flour made from chickpeas. Ground up to a powdery flour, delicious offerings like omelets, crepes, crispy coatings, sauces and chickpea fries can be created. You can find some of these recipes here: (http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-food/how-to-use-chickpea-flour-in-holiday-meals-from-breakfast-to-dessert/.) I am trying a new recipe now, coating my eggplant with chickpea flour before lightly sautéing and making vegan eggplant parmesan. Yum!
Each time I attempt one of these recipes…every time I practice my vegan culinary skills; whether it is making a simple kale, hummus and avocado wrap or an intricate vegetable and tofu crepe with vegan béchamel, I am reminded that this lifestyle has profound effects on my health and the environment. More importantly, I feel elated to be living this life according to my values of compassion and mercy. We live in a culture of disconnect and distraction, but I am fully present in my deep concern for the sanctity of life, each and every time I prepare and sit down to a meal. I do not numb my soul and turn away from the reality of what is happening to billions of innocent animals every second of every day.
“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
– Jiddu Krishnamurti
If you’d like to make something from chickpeas that you have never tried, I am going to share my own “Chickpea Salad” with you. Dust off the Cuisinart and give this recipe a try:
Sande’s “Chickpea Salad”
1 can organic Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) drained
1 celery stalk
1 Tablespoon red onion (more or less to taste)
2 Tablespoons parsley (more or less to taste)
2 Tablespoons dill (more or less to taste)
Handful of walnuts
1 Tablespoon Vegenaise
1 Teaspoon lemon juice
Sea Salt (to taste)
1 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
½ Dill Pickle
Before I get into the recipe, you should know that you can leave out any ingredient you don’t wish to include (some people hate pickles or are allergic to nuts) and it will still taste great!
I put the carrot, celery, and onion in the Cuisinart first and chop them up a bit. Then put all the other ingredients in the Cuisinart. Turn it on and watch the magic. You’ll need to taste and see if you’d like more salt or more onion, etc. The more you blend, the creamier the texture will be. Enjoy!
If you’d like to add more chickpeas to your diet without making a specific dish, you can sprinkle them into your soups while cooking, roast them with some olive oil and spices for a great snack or add them to salads to enhance the taste and texture.
I wish you awakened compassion, healthful eating and please remember that all I am saying is give chickpeas a chance. Namaste.
Sande Nosonowitz is a Certified Yoga & Meditation Teacher as well as a Certified Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. Sande can be reached at her Sundara website; www.sundarajewel.com and emailed at email@example.com.