Garbanzo Beans-also known as Chick Peas-originated in the Middle East. They were first cultivated in about 3000 B.C. in the Mediterranean area. They spread to India and to Africa from there. They were very popular with the Egyptians, the Greeks, and the Romans. Of course, explorers spread the beans around the world as they traveled on the oceans.
Nutritionally, garbanzos are an excellent source of protein, and combined with grain–such as rice or pasta–it becomes a complete protein, as good as meat, but without the fat. They are a source of cholesterol lowering fiber, and especially high in insoluble fiber whibh helps prevent digestive disorders such as diverticulosis and irritable bowel syndrome.
In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, eating high fiber foods, such as garbanzos, decreases both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease. They are high in folate (folic acid) and magnesium. both of which help in lowering the risk of heart disease. Folic acid prevents spina bifida in expectant mothers. As well, eating garbanzo beans, with their high fiber content, prevents blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making them a beneficial addition for people with diabetes.
Garbanzo beans come in several colors, i.e., black, red and beige. In our area the usual offering in stores is beige. When garbanzos are still green, they are sold in the Middle East as a bouquet with the leaves and the soft shell, which are then grilled on charcoal, and eaten by squirting the bean out of the shell into one’s mouth. High end restaurants in New York are serving grilled green garbanzos on salads and charging an arm and a leg for it.
Canned garbanzo beans do not lose any nutrient value when canned, and dry garbanzos are offered in most stores, which must be soaked overnight, then boiled until they are soft. They are used as addition to green salads, and in curry dishes. One of the best dishes to fight heart disease in Hummus, a famous Middle Eastern Spread,. Here is my recipe for hummus.
makes two cups
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Tahini, sesame seeds paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt to taste
-Place the garbanzo beans with the garlic and the water in a food processor and puree until you have a smooth paste.
-Add the rest of the ingredients and process until well mixed.
-Chill for couple of hours before serving. Serve with pit chips.