It is not a big secret that beans, pulses, legumes, are all high in protein and low in bad fats. That makes it the ideal staple for anyone trying to avoid animal products. One of my favourite legumes has to be chickpeas. They sure are versatile in their use and extremely nutritious (follow these links Nutrition Data, Canadian Living Magazine to find out more). Hummus, curries, stews, chilis, snacks, salads, you name it.
I’ve come to learn that cooking your own beans from scratch is a lot more budget friendly than buying the canned and prepared kind. Yes I know it is painful work compared to opening and discarding a can with no cleanup required. But here is something that may or may not sway your judgement when a recipe calls for beans again. Apart from being more environmentally responsible to cut out a middle-man-or-two and to reduce wastage on packaging, there is also an economic benefit to your food budget. According to my recent calculations and depending on the type of beans you cook, one 1.4 kg (4 lb.) bag of dried chickpeas would yield 17 cups of cooked chickpeas. I did a quick google search and according to this site one 395 g (14 oz) can = 1.5 c cooked beans. The 1.4 kg bag I bought was $3.99 retail. A 395 g can was about the same price, depending on where and what brand you buy. I rest my case.
-Here is my method for preparing ready-to-eat chickpeas in a slow-cooker.
Fill your slow-cooker with 3 cups dried chickpeas. Add 9 cups of water to it, set to high and cook with the lid on for 3 – 3 1/2 hours. You can also cook these on low for 6 hours and the results should be the same. I added a tbsp of whole cumin seed to give it extra flavour. Then you just unplug the cooker and leave it until cool enough to handle (or you can drain, then rinse them in cool water). Now, bag them up 2 cups per bag and add just enough fresh water to cover them. Throw them in the freezer and you are set!
These turn out really well and give off a smooth texture and buttery flavour. Yum!
Now you will have some more dollars left in your budget, and Mother Earth will thank you as well. Happy Chickpea eating!