We don't grow chickpeas in the United States, so you might think about them as some sort of exotic vegetable. The fact is that chickpea remains were found in the Mideast more than 7500 years ago, so they have been around for quite some time.
Not quite so exotic either. They have been used in the ancient times of Italy and Greece as a staple in vegetable soup recipes, flour, roasted snacks and desserts.
They were used around the world to make coffee, curry dishes and even for medicinal purposes. Our closest encounter and most common way of tasting chickpeas in the United States is in hummus. They are also know as garbanzo beans.
So whether you call them peas or beans, legumes or vegetables, they have been used for a long time in the rest of the world. Maybe because they are healthy for you. They are high in fiber and plant based protein.
One half cup of chickpeas will contain 4.5 grams of insoluble fiber and 1 gram of soluble fiber. Research has shown a link between a low intake of fiber and a greater risk of colon cancer. There is also evidence that dietary fiber has decreased the risk of breast cancer in women by decreasing the circulating estrogens linked to breast cancer.
Even if they are not so common, they are still easy to find. Look for them in the grocery store aisle with the canned vegetables. For those of us trying to eat less meat and find our source of protein in plant based vegetables, this is a great alternative.
Italian and Indian cuisine recipes offer you a lot of variety in the way that you use them. If you are cooking for two, soups are a great way to incorporate them into your diet because the leftovers are easy to store and use for another day.