What are chickpeas?
Chickpeas are one of the go-to sources of protein and fiber for vegans and vegetarians. Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, belong to the family of legumes and have been cultivated for hundreds of years.
There is evidence showing that this nutritious legume had already been grown around Turkey and Greece as early as 3500 BC. They are cultivated mostly in warmer climates, especially around the Middle East, India, Southern Europe, and South America.
Chickpeas are a staple in many cuisines around the world, from making hummus in the Middle East to cooking Chana Masala in India. The most common chickpea that you find in most stores worldwide is beige in color and round in shape, but there are even some with black, green or red colors.
The taste of chickpeas is nutty and creamy and it adds a pleasant texture to salads, stews, and other recipes.
The nutritional value of chickpeas
Chickpeas are full of protein, fiber, important minerals, and vitamins. 100 g of uncooked chickpeas pack a stunning 21 g of protein and 62 g of carbs, of which 12 g is fiber. The same 100 g also contains 137% of your required daily folate (B9) intake, as well as 54% of your iron, 25% of your zinc and 20% of your daily magnesium intake (1).
Fiber helps you with feeling satisfied and full after a meal. It also helps to balance out your blood sugar, and it’s even contributing to a healthy gut microbiome. The fiber in chickpeas is mostly soluble which is shown to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in your gut (2).
Chickpeas also have a good amino acid profile for a plant-based protein source. It contains all of the essential amino acids except for methionine (3). Combining it with other plant-based protein sources from grains, nuts, and seeds will make sure you get all of the essential amino acids in your diet.
The benefits of sprouting
You should never eat chickpeas or other legumes raw. Even though they are packed with healthy nutrients, in their raw form they also contain phasin and other anti-nutrients that serve as a protection mechanism for the seed and cause nausea and digestive problems for humans.
Therefore, you have to either cook or sprout the chickpeas to remove any anti-nutrients and get out the most of their beneficial qualities. When you sprout chickpeas, the anti-nutrients get removed which make them better digestible and improves the absorption of other vitamins.
While the heat in cooking destroys the amount of vitamin, sprouting actually increases and improves the nutritional value. During sprouting, the amount of vitamins goes up and they are more readily available for you to absorb.
Therefore, you keep the beneficial nutrients and even help them multiply, while you get rid of harmful anti-nutrients.
How to correctly sprout chickpeas
Before sprouting the chickpeas, you first have to soak them in filtered water for 12 hours, preferably overnight. During this soaking phase, the chickpeas will absorb much of the water and more than double in size.
Then, you discard the water and rinse the chickpeas thoroughly with filtered water in a sieve or colander.
Next, you add them to your sprouting container. For this, you have several options. You can either add them to a sprouting glass, cover it with the suitable lid, and turn it upside down. Or you add them to a long container and (optionally) cover it with a kitchen towel. The kitchen towel can be useful when you’re in a warm climate with fruit flies in order to prevent them from making themselves comfortable on the chickpeas.
Our preferred choice is finding a long container, such as an oven dish or a baking tin, and adding the chickpeas in there. You can then add a kitchen towel to ensure they are getting enough air, or you simply leave them in the fresh air.
It’s important that the chickpeas are spread out evenly in your form so they all have enough space without being stacked upon each other. This way, you ensure they will not turn bad or develop a strong smell. If your chickpeas are piling up, they will stay moist for longer throughout the day and start to smell intensely. That’s why we are not such a big fan of the sprouting glass.
And then, you simply need to rinse your chickpeas twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. Rinse the chickpeas with filtered water and put them back to your sprouting container. Around day 1 and 2, the small tails will appear for the first time and grow thereafter.
After 3-4 days, your sprouted chickpeas will be ready. The right amount of time depends on where you live, and the season you’re in. When it’s warmer in summer, chickpeas and all other legumes sprout faster. In winter, it might take up to one or two additional days.
Don’t continue to sprout for longer than the 4 days as the sprouts will turn inedible over time.
You know that you’re chickpeas are ready when the tail is around 1-2 cms (0.4 to 0.8 inches) long, the smell is subtle and fresh, and the taste is similar to regular chickpeas but earthier and nuttier.
To ensure your chickpeas are not turning bad, make the “smell test”. If your chickpeas are smelling very intensely and sour, they probably were standing in too much water and didn’t get enough space. When the smell is fine and not unpleasing to you, the chickpeas turned out right.
Some people do prefer to shortly blanch or steam the chickpea sprouts before eating to be safe that all anti-nutrients have been properly removed.
Either way, chickpea sprouts are a nutritional powerhouse that add proteins, fiber, minerals and vitamins to your diet. As with anything, make sure to eat balanced and combine them with a varied selections of vegetables, grains and other plant-based foods.
Learn how to easily sprout chickpeas at home.
- 1/2 cup chickpeas
- 1 l filtered water
- 1 long container (e.g. oven dish) or sprouting glass
Rinse the chickpeas in filtered water for 12 hours.
Discard the soaking water and rinse chickpeas in a sieve with filtered water.
Add to your sprouting container. Make sure the chickpeas aren’t being stacked upon each other.
For the next 2-4 days, wash the chickpea sprouts two times each day (in the morning and evening) with filtered water, then add back to your sprouting container.
After 3-4 days, the chickpea sprouts are ready to eat when their tails are 1-2 cms (0.4 to 0.8 inches) long.
(Optionally) Blanch shortly before eating.