Saturday, March 19

Food Spotlight: Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

I opened the refrigerator and peered at its Spartan contents—Greek yogurt, celery, radishes, various cheeses and a door full of random condiments and sauces. (How long does Thai Fish Sauce last anyway?)

Not satisfied I moved on to the pantry where I was greeted by boxes of whole grain pasta, high fiber cereal and protein bars. Good God, I thought, there’s nothing good to eat around here! A sentiment unanimously echoed by my husband and three children.

Of course that’s not true. There’s plenty to eat, it’s just not the food I want to eat. I was craving something sinful, something fatty, salty, sugary and loaded with trans fat. This is exactly why I don’t buy those items. I can’t eat it if I don’t have it.

With a heavy sigh and a shrug of my shoulders, I plodded back to the refrigerator. This time I pulled out a tub of Trader Joe’s Cilantro-Jalapeno Hummus, the celery and radishes and made myself a little cruditĂ©s plate. And I have to say…um, yummy! That hummus is the best stuff ever!

Finding a quick, healthy snack is always a monumental challenge for me, probably because the entire food industry is out to sabotage me. They’ve built billion-dollar businesses based on convenience. They’ve got “grab-and-go” down to a science, whereas healthy snack options typically fall into a “some assembly required” category.

When I’m in a hurry or just plain hungry, I don’t want to assemble anything. But thankfully, I always keep hummus on hand and when I’m really smart—typically only once a month when there’s a full moon—I cut up vegetables ahead of time so I really do have a “grab-and-go” healthy option.

Sitting at my kitchen table, I was happy I’d selected something good for me. (Although realistically given how my house is stocked I had no choice.) As I relished the cilantro and kick of jalapeno I contemplated all the goodness that I was putting into my body.

Hummus, which is made from garbanzo beans, is a fantastic snack option. The beans are full of protein and fiber, two nutrients that are exceptionally good at stabilizing blood sugar levels. When our blood sugar levels are regulated we don’t get those post-sugar crashes propelling us to reach for the next quick fix. Typically another sugar-laden treat.

The protein and fiber in garbanzo beans make them high in what scientists call "food satiety." A term used to describe how full a food makes us feel and how effective it is at eliminating our hunger and appetite.

According to The World’s Healthiest Foods website, “Participants in a recent study were found to consume fewer snacks and fewer overall calories when supplementing their regular diet with garbanzo beans. They were also found to report greater food satiety, with experiences of reduced appetite and greater food satisfaction.”

All that and it’s a relatively low calorie food too!

Next time you’re scavenging through the fridge and pantry for something to snack on, grab the hummus. But do yourself a favor and cut up your veggies ahead of time.

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