Ways to Include Chickpeas in Your Low-Fat Diet

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Typically found in many types of ethnic cuisines - such as Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean – chickpeas are finding their way as a staple in the American diet. Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are chock-full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber and cholesterol and fat-free – making them a perfect food to include in your cholesterol-lowering meal plan. Chickpeas are not only versatile, there is also some evidence that they may be able to help keep your cholesterol levels healthy.

This article contains a few ideas of how you can incorporate chickpeas in your cholesterol-lowering diet.

Serve Them as Appetizers

Chickpeas are quite flavorful when roasted and consumed by themselves, making them the perfect go-to, low-fat snack when you are hungry. You can also mash chickpeas and spread them on whole grain bread. Hummus - which consists of mashed chickpeas mixed with tahini, garlic, and olive oil – makes a perfect, low-calorie dip for veggies and bread. You can also add other ingredients, such as red peppers or olives, to hummus to change it up a little:

Chickpeas on the Side

Chickpeas can be substituted for beans or for whole grains, such as rice or barley. During the preparation process, you should make sure that you are pairing your chickpeas with other healthy ingredients. To avoid the addition of saturated fat to your meal, you should avoid cooking your chickpeas with butter or with heavy creams.

If using them in a sauté with other foods, you can use a small amount of olive or vegetable oil. If a heavy cream is to be used as garnishment with your side containing chickpeas, you should use low-fat yogurt or a low-fat variety of cream, if needed.

Soups and Salads

Chickpeas can also be substituted for other whole grains in soups or salads. They easily absorb the flavor of other foods you are cooking them with – guaranteeing a delicious meal. Chickpeas are high in protein and fiber, making them very filling. Because of this, your soups and salads may also double as the main course.  When adding chickpeas to soups and salads, you should watch what you add to them. For soups, avoid creaming them, since this can add fat to your meal. You should also make sure that you are adding lean meats to your soups and salads – in many cases, chickpeas can even be used as your sole protein source. And lastly, since many types of foods can be mixed with chickpeas – feel free to experiment with many types of veggies and spices – all of which are cholesterol-friendly foods.

Middle Eastern Vegetarian Chickpea Soup

Crockpot Chicken and Chickpea Stew

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Chickpea and Tomato Salad

Chickpeas in Your Entrée

The versatility that chickpeas possess also allows you to create some delicious, heart-healthy entrees that are low in fat and high in nutrients. Not only can you create a full meal out of these small legumes, you can also substitute them for another meat product in your dish – lowering calories and fat intake for the meal. Chickpeas can be prepared in a variety of ways, so they can be mashed and shaped into a patty or used as a topping in lieu of cream. Here are a few ways chickpeas can be used as the main course of your meal: 

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