Chickpeas: The Perfect Plant Protein

Amelia Forman gives some suggestions on how to incorporate chickpeas into your diet and create simple sustainable vegan meals on a budget.

I may be biased as a chickpea lover but with so many benefits, I believe they should be a part of everyone’s diet! They are super cheap, packed with protein, and high in fibre and iron as well. You can even use the water from canned chickpeas as an egg substitute.

In addition, chickpeas are a rain fed crop that enrich the soil, establishing themselves as a great sustainable alternative to other protein sources. Here are a few simple ways that you can incorporate this lovely legume into your diet.

Image Credit: Eitan Ferman

Toasted Chickpeas

  • Rinse and pat dry a can of chickpeas
  • Coat in a little oil, and season to your taste (I love lots of salt and paprika!)
  • Lay out the chickpeas on a tray and roast in the oven at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown

You can have toasted chickpeas as a filling snack throughout the day, or use them in a salad with some seasonal vegetables such as kale and potatoes for some extra substance.

Falafel

Image Credit: Ajale

Most recipes recommend soaking dried chickpeas for falafel, but I find canned chickpeas still work well. 

  • Mash the chickpeas with a fork, then add in finely diced onion and garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper 
  • You can also add turmeric for a brighter colour, I like to add some sesame seeds for an extra crunch!
  • Gradually add plain flour until it comes together like a dough
  • Shape into golf ball sized pieces and fry or bake until golden brown
  • Eat in a wrap or pitta with salad

Falafel are great for preparing lunches that you can grab and go in the morning rush, a much better alternative to buying expensive meal deals!

Hummus

Hummus is one of my favourite foods, and if you have a blender accumulating dust, it is also super easy to make at home. 

  • Blend half a can of chickpeas with a tablespoon of tahini and a couple tablespoons of water to get a smooth paste
  • Add flavour with your preferred amounts of lemon juice, garlic, and salt

For an allergen friendly alternative (or if you don’t have tahini!) swap with olive oil. Hummus is great to use as a vegetable or breadstick dip, to spread in a falafel wrap, or just to eat out of the tub if it has been one of those days when you need some comfort!

Image Credit: Alla Olsson

Chickpea Coconut Soup

  • Start the way any good recipe does – frying onion, garlic, and some fresh chilli if you like a little heat
  • Add in any veg that needs using up such as pepper, sweet potato or broccoli
  • Fry everything for a couple of minutes, then add chickpeas
  • Cover the ingredients with stock and coconut milk in a 2:1 ratio. Simmer until the veg is soft, around 15 minutes
  • Add in any leaves like spinach, and season with citrus, salt, pepper, and turmeric
  • Bring everything together then serve as it is, or with rice

Hopefully I have convinced you to try one of these simple but delicious recipes using chickpeas. By putting a few extra minutes aside in the evening to prepare these, you could have some great foundations for cheap, healthy, and sustainable meal options.

About the Author: Amelia is a second-year English and History student in York with a passion for incorporating simple and sustainable choices into a mindful lifestyle.

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