Another one of my “can’t-be-without” ingredients, one or two tins of chickpeas always end up in my trolley when I do my weekly food shopping.
They are wonderful to bulk up a salad or can satisfyingly take the place of meat in a vegetarian curry.
Packed with health-enhancing nutrients chickpeas are a good source of isoflavones – plant chemicals that are converted into a substance that mimics oestrogen. They can therefore help to prevent hormone-related conditions including PMS and breast cancer.
Chickpeas have antiseptic properties and are a diuretic, making them useful to combat cystitis. They also aid the absorption of nutrients and are good for digestive health. They support the functions of nerves and muscles in the body as well as stabilise blood sugar.
Chickpeas are loaded with protein, which is vital for the healthy repair of cells. They also contain protease inhibitors, which stop the DNA-destroying action of cancer cells.
They are rich in antioxidant vitamin E, which promotes the ability of white blood cells to fight infection, protects the heart and promotes healthy skin and hair.
They contain zinc, which enhances immunity, and plenty of iron, a mineral that women in particular, tend to be deficient in until after the menopause.
It is thought that chickpeas also help the body deal with preservatives, found in some fast foods, that can cause headaches.
Tinned chickpeas (tinned without added sugar or salt) are just as nutritious as dried.
It couldn’t be easier to make your own hummus: throw all your ingredients in a food processor and blend; blending for a shorter time will give you a hummus with plenty of texture.
I normally find tahini (sesame seeds paste) at my local health food store.