Legume of the month: Chickpeas

Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are featured in an array of dishes throughout the world, including in Africa, India, the Middle East, and Europe. Chickpeas are rich in fiber, folate (vitamin B9), manganese, and other minerals. Several studies have found that eating chickpeas may improve cholesterol levels and reduce blood sugar.

Americans may be most familiar with hummus, a blend of chickpeas and sesame paste that's so popular you can even find it in small convenience stores. But chickpeas are also being used in a range of other products, including pasta and rice as well as snack foods such as chips, fries, and "puffs."

Instead of munching on these processed snacks, you can easily make your own: Just spread a can of drained, rinsed chickpeas on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with your favorite spices, such as garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, or curry powder. Stir to coat and bake at 375 F for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how crispy you want them.

You might want to save the liquid drained from a can of chickpeas. Called aquafaba ("bean water"), this slightly viscous liquid can be used as substitute for egg whites. For baking, replace one egg with about three tablespoons of aquafaba, which should be whipped until it turns white and foamy.

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