Eating for Life: No need to skimp on flavor

Posted March 29, 2011, at 5:22 p.m.

Chickpeas are an ancient food that have had an impact on the modern American diet in recent years as hummus has become a popular chip dip and sandwich spread.

Taupe-colored and roughly the size of an exploded pea, chickpeas are low in calories and sodium, high in fiber and a good source of copper and manganese. The Star’s Roasted Garlic Herb Chickpeas make a crunchy, low-sodium, high-fiber snack.

Too much sodium can lead to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and more. Salt-free herb seasoning mixes are a smart way to reduce salt intake yet add flavor. The USDA’s recently updated 2010 Dietary Guidelines encourage Americans to continue to reduce the amount of sodium in their diets. The recommendations are for no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium — or 1 teaspoon per day.

African-Americans, middle-aged or older adults and anyone who suffers from hypertension should aim to consume no more than 1,500 milligrams per day. Read food labels and choose foods with 400 milligrams or less per serving.

Shopping tips: Chickpeas, available in cans, are also referred to as garbanzo (Spanish) beans or ceci (Italian).

Popular brands of salt-free herb seasonings include Mrs. Dash, McCormicks and Penzey’s. Do not confuse salt-free with salt substitutes, which are lower in sodium but may contain potassium-based ingredients that clash with various heart medications.

Cooking tip: It is important to immediately toss the hot chickpeas with the seasoning blend so it adheres well.

ROASTED GARLIC HERB CHICKPEAS

Makes 4 servings (total yield 1 cup)

1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas

Nonstick cooking spray

1 teaspoon salt-free garlic and herb seasoning blend

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. Pour chickpeas into a strainer and rinse with cold water. Pat dry and place in zip-top bag. Spray chickpeas generously with nonstick spray; seal bag and toss to coat the chickpeas evenly. Place on baking sheet in a single layer. Roast 40 to 45 minutes or until chickpeas are brown and crisp, stirring every 10 minutes. Transfer the hot chickpeas to a medium bowl and immediately toss with salt-free garlic and herb seasoning blend.

Recipe developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss.

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