Chickpeas are not only delicious, they are also packed with nutrients that can provide numerous health benefits. However, how you cook them plays a vital role in their flavour, texture, and nutritional value. In fact, cooking chickpeas the right way is essential for optimal health benefits. In this article, I’ll explore how to cook chickpeas and determine the healthiest method to cook them to ensure that you get the most out of this nutritious legume.
The Health Benefits of Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a nutritional powerhouse, and incorporating them into your diet can provide so many health benefits!.
Here are a few reasons why chickpeas are a great addition to your meals:
High in fibre: Chickpeas are an excellent source of dietary fibre, with one cup containing about 12.5 grams. Fibre is essential for maintaining digestive health, as it helps to promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation. It also helps to lower cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, and promote a feeling of fullness, making it an excellent food for weight management.
Rich in protein: Chickpeas are also a good source of plant-based protein, with one cup containing approximately 15 grams. Protein is crucial for building and repairing muscle tissue, as well as for maintaining healthy skin, hair, and nails. It also helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied, making it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
Good source of vitamins and minerals: Chickpeas are packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for maintaining overall health. They are a good source of iron, which is necessary for the production of red blood cells and for preventing anaemia. Chickpeas are also rich in folate, which is important for brain function and the prevention of birth defects. Additionally, they contain magnesium, potassium, and other micronutrients that play a vital role in maintaining optimal health.
How to Cook Chickpeas
There are several ways to cook chickpeas, and each method has its unique benefits.
Here are some of the most common ways to cook chickpeas:
Boiling: Boiling chickpeas is a simple and straightforward method that involves cooking them in water on the stovetop. This method is ideal for those who prefer a softer texture and don’t mind spending a bit more time cooking. Boiling also helps to remove some of the anti-nutrients that can interfere with nutrient absorption.
Pressure cooking: Pressure cooking is a faster way to cook chickpeas and is perfect for those who are short on time. This method involves cooking chickpeas in a pressure cooker, which can help to retain more of their nutrients than boiling. Pressure cooking also helps to break down some of the complex carbohydrates in chickpeas, making them easier to digest.
Roasting: Roasting chickpeas is a popular method for making a crunchy and flavourful snack. This method involves seasoning chickpeas with spices and roasting them in the oven until they are crispy. Roasted chickpeas are a delicious addition to salads or can be eaten on their own as a healthy snack.
Soaking: Soaking chickpeas before cooking them can help to reduce their cooking time and improve their digestibility. This method involves soaking the chickpeas in water overnight or for at least 6-8 hours before cooking. Soaking can also help to remove some of the anti-nutrients that can interfere with nutrient absorption.
Sautéing: chickpeas is another way to cook them and can add some extra flavour to your dish. To sauté chickpeas, heat some olive oil in a pan and add the chickpeas, stirring them occasionally until they are heated through and lightly browned. You can also add some herbs and spices to the pan to enhance the flavour even more. Sautéed chickpeas can be used in a variety of dishes, such as salads, stir-fries, and grain bowls.
What is the Healthiest Way to Cook Chickpeas?
While there are many ways to cook chickpeas, some methods are healthier than others.
Here are the best methods for cooking chickpeas to retain their nutrients and promote optimal health:
Importance of soaking: Soaking chickpeas before cooking them can help to reduce cooking time and improve their digestibility. It also helps to remove some of the anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid and tannins, that can interfere with nutrient absorption. Soaking chickpeas overnight or for at least 6-8 hours is ideal.
Nutrient retention through boiling: Boiling chickpeas is a good method for retaining their nutrients, as it doesn’t involve high heat or pressure that can destroy some of the vitamins and minerals. Boiling also helps to break down some of the complex carbohydrates in chickpeas, making them easier to digest. To boil chickpeas, simply add them to a pot of water and simmer for about 60-90 minutes, or until they are tender.
Pressure cooking for time-saving and better nutrient retention: Pressure cooking chickpeas is a faster way to cook them and can help to retain more of their nutrients than boiling. This method involves cooking chickpeas in a pressure cooker, which uses high heat and pressure to cook them quickly. Pressure cooking also helps to break down some of the complex carbohydrates in chickpeas, making them easier to digest. To pressure cook chickpeas, add them to the pressure cooker with water and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or until they are tender.
Overall, the healthiest way to cook chickpeas is to soak them before cooking, boil them on the stovetop or pressure cook them, and avoid high heat or pressure that can destroy their nutrients. By cooking chickpeas the right way, you can enjoy all of their health benefits while also enjoying their delicious flavour.
How Long Do Canned Chickpeas Need To Cook?
Canned chickpeas are actually pre-cooked during the canning process, so they don’t require extensive cooking like dried chickpeas do. The purpose of heating canned chickpeas is to warm them and infuse them with flavors, rather than to fully cook them. Typically, heating canned chickpeas on the stove over medium-low heat for about 5-10 minutes is sufficient to achieve the desired result. You just need to make sure they are heated through and have absorbed any seasonings you’ve added. If you’re using a microwave, it may take a couple of 30-second intervals to warm them up adequately. Remember, the goal is to make them ready to eat and enhance their flavor rather than cook them from scratch.
Can I Eat Chickpeas Out of the Can?
Yes, you can definitely eat chickpeas straight out of the can. Canned chickpeas are pre-cooked and ready to eat, so they are safe to consume without any additional cooking. However, many people prefer to rinse them under cold water before eating to remove any excess salt and improve their texture. Rinsing also helps to get rid of the slightly metallic taste that might be present due to the canning process.
Eating canned chickpeas directly from the can can be convenient if you’re looking for a quick and healthy snack, or if you want to add them to salads, wraps, or other dishes without further cooking. If you’d like to enhance the flavor, you can also add some seasoning, lemon juice, olive oil, or your preferred dressing before consuming.
How to Add Flavour to Chickpeas
Chickpeas are a versatile and nutritious ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. However, if you’re looking to add some extra flavour to your chickpeas, here are some tips:
Spices and herbs: Adding spices and herbs is an easy way to add flavour to chickpeas. Some popular spices and herbs to use with chickpeas include cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic, and parsley. You can add these spices and herbs to your chickpeas while they are cooking, or sprinkle them on top of the finished dish. You can even make a chickpea curry!
Roasting: Roasting chickpeas is another way to add flavour and crunch. Toss chickpeas with olive oil and your favourite spices and roast them in the oven at 400°F for about 20-30 minutes, or until they are crispy. Roasted chickpeas can be used as a snack or added to salads and soups for extra flavour and texture. You can try my Chocolate Chickpea Bark!
Sautéing: Sautéing chickpeas with onions, garlic, and other vegetables can add flavour and depth to your dish. Heat some olive oil in a pan and add your chickpeas and vegetables, sautéing them until they are tender and fragrant. You can also add some herbs and spices to the mix to enhance the flavour even more.