Historically Chickpeas have been used almost since recorded time began. They have recorded uses of Chickpeas in Italy and Greece since the Bronze Age. Chickpeas are believed to be one of, if not the oldest cultivated vegetables. There is evidence to suggest Chickpeas were used as far back as 9500BC.

There are 2 types of Chickpeas cultivated today. The “Desi” cultivated in India, Mexico and Ethiopia and the “Kabuli” Commonly cultivated in Northern Africa, Southern Europe, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Chile.

Chickpeas, also commonly known as Garbanzo beans, are botanically classified as Cicer arietinum of the plant family ‘Fabaceae’. They are an annual crop used as a feed for Humans and Livestock. Peas and Beans are the major source of Protein in Vegan and Vegetarian diets.

Dahl Chickpeas (split chickpeas) is one of the most popular varieties, which are from the Desi Chickpeas. Kabuli Chickpeas are usually consumed as a whole pea seed.

The consumption of Chickpeas and other pulses are is coming more popular as people are recognising the nutritional value of them and other Pulses.

In Australia only a small portion of its total Chickpea crop is consumed with the majority shipped to India amongst other countries.

Chickpeas are high in B Group Vitamins (Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Pantothenic acid and Vitamin B12) Vitamin, C, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. they are high in Zinc, Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Phosphorous and Potassium. Chickpeas contain around 8g of Dietary Fibre per 100g

Chickpeas are high in lysine, an amino acid used by the body for many functions including muscle repair and for maintaining muscle mass. Lysine aids in the production of hormones.

Chickpeas can be incorporated into the diet in many ways.

- Chickpeas form the basis of Hummus. A popular dip or spread consumed throughout the Middle East and popular in other countries. To make Hummus, Chickpeas are cooked then mashed and combined with tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and garlic. There is also a Chickpea Guacamole where Hummus is combined with Avocado.

- Chickpeas should be soaked overnight to soften. This can dramatically reduce cooking time. Chickpeas are available in cans, which are ideal if soaking is not an option.

- Stir Chickpeas through soups for flavour and as a thickener.

- Add to soups and stews for filler, nutritional value and thickening.

- Use with other vegetables with your favourite meat dish or use as a substitute to meat for Vegan and Vegetarian diets.

- Ideal added to fresh salads including Pasta salads and summer leaf salads.

Author's Bio: 

Eric J. Smith is an Experienced Horticulturalist with a keen interest in Organic Gardening. Eric's interest in Organics also shows in his interest in Organic Nutrition and Organic Skincare. More information can be found on these by visiting his websites http://www.buy-organic-products.com/health/ or http://www.lifestyle-health-services.com. Subscribe to Eric's FREE Health and Organic Newsletters via these websites.