Whether you call them chickpeas or garbanzo beans, these tasty legumes are the gateway to the best spread around—the almighty hummus. And really, who doesn’t love hummus? Seriously. It’s such a versatile spread and makes a truly nourishing snack. You can eat it with raw vegetables; spread it on a collard green wrap, gluten-free sprouted grain tortilla or toast; add it to a mixed green salad; or serve it with a Moroccan-inspired chicken dish. You can make it lemony, garlicky, with roasted red pepper, and even into an incredibly delicious vegan cookie dough spread (probably the best use let’s be honest). The point is, there really are endless ways to enjoy it.
A HUMMUS TO ROOT FOR
If you love hummus, then you’ll absolutely fall head over heels for this super nourishing beet hummus. Because HELLO, gorgeous! The color alone is enough to make me forget about basic hummus forever (yeah that’s a lie but you get my gist), plus that vibrant hue means it’s packed with antioxidants. As I discussed a few weeks ago in the new Friday blog series The Curated Kitchen, beets enhance more than the pretty factor, as they boost the overall fiber content, as well as provide amazing detoxifying and cancer preventing properties. High fives all around!
As if that wasn’t enough, chickpeas are one of the most nutritious legumes you can eat. They are rich in iron, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, B vitamins, as well as omega 6 fatty acids (just remember to balance your omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid consumption to favor more omega 3s—read more on why here). Hummus is my favorite way to eat chickpeas but you can obviously do a million other things with them from adding to salads or stews to toasting for a quick and healthy snack.
BEANS, BEANS THE MUSICAL FRUIT…
Unfortunately, as much as we all love hummus and the humble chickpea, it doesn’t always love us back. Garbanzo beans and other legumes aren’t the easiest to digest, which is why so many people experience bloating, belching, and gas after consuming them. One the of the reasons is because they contain lectins, phytates, and saponins (also found in soy products) and for someone with any sort of compromised digestion (i.e. IBS, Crohn’s disease, etc.), eating these innocent looking beans can create serious problems.
Saponins can irritate the lining of our intestines, which then leads to inflammation. Phytic acid combines with other nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc and blocks their absorption. Legumes also contain enzyme inhibitors, another reason they can be difficult for some people to digest.
Of course it’s not all gloom and doom. One of the major benefits to including legumes in your diet is that they are a decent source of plant-based protein, but it’s important to mention that it is still an incomplete protein source. This means that the chickpeas don’t contain all nine essential amino acids (the body can create them). For example, while garbanzo beans are high in the essential amino acid lysine, they are low in methionine.
Still chickpeas rank relatively high on the United Nations World Health Organization protein-digestibility-corrected amino acid score (PDCAASS), a method that combines the completeness of a protein’s amino acid profile with its digestibility (meaning how much we actually absorb). On a scale of 0 to 1 with 1 being the highest, chickpeas rank 0.78. For reference, egg is a solid 1 whereas lentils are 0.52.
The soybean is actually the only legume considered a complete protein but I don’t really recommend eating it often (if at all) unless it’s been properly fermented. Soybeans are especially high level in phytates and enzyme inhibitors and unlike those in chickpeas, soaking or cooking won’t easily deactivate them.
TO SOAK OR NOT TO SOAK
As for making this simple beet hummus, I won’t argue that the quickest way to go about it is to use canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans. However, since I know a lot of you are trying to reduce your intake of processed foods and/or struggle with digestive woes, it’s worth discussing how to prepare dried chickpeas. It does take a bit more time but like I said, there are added digestive benefits to this method. Additionally, canned beans are processed at such high temperatures that the valuable proteins they contain are at risk of being denatured, essentially making them less nutritious.
And again, while soaking and cooking chickpeas may seem like an inconvenience, I encourage you to see it as an opportunity to eat more real food and potentially optimize your digestion, heal you gut, and reduce your exposure to inflammatory compounds. Ever since I learned how to do it, I’ve preferred the soaking method because I really do notice a big difference I feel after eating hummus from dried chickpeas.
It really isn’t much more complicated than having a good plan in place. For example, if you know that you’d like to have beet hummus on hand this week, go ahead and start soaking your garbanzo beans on Saturday. Simply soak them overnight in an ambient temperature environment (i.e. somewhere on the kitchen counter) and you’ll reduce the phytic acid anywhere from 8 to 20 percent. It takes less than 5 minutes to get everything set to soak and then all you have to do is sit back and relax or go to bed!
Plus, meal planning means you’ll be less likely to reach for something unhealthy or order take-out for dinner because you’ll already know what to make for lunch or dinner. It takes the guesswork out of things and sets you up for success all week long.
One final word…If the thought of finding time to soak your legumes like chickpeas is overwhelming and seriously not gonna happen right now (or ever), it’s TOTALLY fine.
I mean it.
The path toward better health and wellness is a not black and white. Simply choosing to make your own hummus at all is a GREAT step toward eating a more whole foods diet and taking your health into your own hands. It’s also super fun, I promise! And remember, progress not perfection.
// RECIPE //
SERIOUSLY SIMPLE BEET HUMMUS
Prep Time: 5 minutes active; soaking chickpeas overnight adds 12–16 hours of inactive time | Yield: 2+ cups hummus
// INGREDIENTS //
1 cup roasted beets
2 cups soaked and cooked garbanzo beans or 1 BPA-free can of garbanzo beans (my fave brand; see below for soaking recipe)
5 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs fresh lemon zest
1 garlic clove
1 tbs ground cumin
1/4 cup tahini (I like this one)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
fresh parsley for garnish (optional)
- Soak garbanzo beans according to directions below. If using canned garbanzos, simply open the can, drain liquid, and rinse exceptionally well. I recommend removing as much of the skin/outer shell from the beans as you can but a few left in the mix won’t be a big deal.
- Add garbanzo beans, roasted beets, garlic clove, lemon juice and zest, tahini, spices, salt and pepper to a food processor and pulse until well combined. Scrape down the sides and replace lid.
- Slowly pour in olive oil with food processor running.
- If the spread is too thick, add more lemon juice. You can always thin it out but it’s obviously harder to make it thicker so take care with this step!
- Taste and add more seasoning as needed. Garnish with fresh italian parsley.
Serve with fresh vegetables, slather on gluten-free toast and top with sliced radishes and cucumber, spoon over a salad—go crazy and make me proud.
SIMPLE SOAKED CHICKPEAS
2 cups dried garbanzo beans (i.e. chickpeas)
2 tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
- Cover and soak garbanzo beans with water and lemon juice overnight (i.e. 12 hours).
- Drain and rinse thoroughly, taking care to remove the outer shells that peel off during the rinsing process.
- Place rinsed garbanzos into a pot, cover with water, add salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 4-6 hours, until the garbanzos are tender.
- Drain water and use in hummus recipe above. Got extra? Add to salads, nourishing vegetable bowls, and other meals throughout the week!
While I know some of you are aghast at the thought of letting something simmer for 4-6 hours, keep in mind this can be done on a lazy Sunday afternoon or with help from a slow cooker.
Are you able to digest chickpeas easily? How do you like to eat hummus? What are you doing to savor the last days of summer?
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you LOVE this recipe as much as I do. Please let me know how you feel about the soaking process and if you try it, please share how it helps your digestion below! Really! Don’t be shy. After all, you know what I like to say, right? Even Beyonce poops! #honestly