Crunchy chickpeas provide punch of protein

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Have you gotten all your holiday shopping done? Unfortunately, I have not. But for what presents I do have, the gift wrapping is done.

While wrapping gifts is the bane of holiday time for many people, it is something I actually enjoy. When I first moved to California, I worked at one of the wineries in Temecula and part of my job was putting together gift baskets of wine and other goodies for corporate clients and customers.

I learned all the ins and outs of gift basket creation, but also learned about how to dress gifts with wrapping paper and ribbon bows. For those who are curious, ribbon bows are fickle children and can’t be trusted.

Wrapping paper is always predictable, reliable and obedient. When you cut it, it stays cut. When you crease it, it stays creased. When you fold it, it stays folded. And when you tape it, it stays taped.

Ribbon bows, on the other hand, are wild, free spirits. Depending on the material, the thickness, the alignment of the planets and stars and its mood that day, ribbon may come together and form an extravagant, beautifully lush topper for a package, or it may go on a bending binge and wreck your gift wrapping. You just don’t know.

So, in my house, presents don’t have bows. I take that back. Sometimes I will buy the pre-assembled bows with the sticky backing. I will peel off the backing and stick those on gifts. After two minutes, the bows fall off. And I throw them away. As I said, in my house, presents don’t have bows.

But I will wrap presents any day of the week, any time of the year, and enjoy it. Before I had kids, I helped a friend wrap gifts for her children for Christmas. She liked to have all her daughter’s gifts wrapped in one type of wrapping paper, her son’s gifts wrapped in another, and all the gifts from “Santa” wrapped in yet another.

It was a fun afternoon. We watched the entire “White Christmas” movie while wrapping all 800 presents. Not really. I think we only got through three-quarters of the movie. And we didn’t use one bow.

With all the wrapping that still needs to be done in the next few weeks, a person needs some nourishment, don’t you think? Protein saves the day, every day, and this year I’ve been exploring alternative proteins.

Chickpeas, sometimes called garbanzo beans, are a healthy choice for meatless protein. They contain not only 14 grams of protein per 1 cup, but also score high in dietary fiber and folate. The recipe this week is adapted from the website Spontaneous Tomato.

In a month of over the top cookies, cakes and sweet things, this salty, crunchy snack is a welcome respite and provides a punch of protein. Plus, it is delicious with your favorite holiday adult beverage, which you may need if you are dealing with ribbon bows.


Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas


Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can (14 oz.) of chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sumac
  • 3/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt

Directions:

Dry the chickpeas are as much as possible. Pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel, then spread the chickpeas on a rimmed baking sheet and let them air-dry for two to four hours. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour the chickpeas onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake in the upper half of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until they start to crisp up, shaking the pan and moving them around after about 15 minutes. Meanwhile in a medium bowl, mix together the olive oil, thyme, sumac, paprika, and sea salt. Remove the chickpeas from the oven, and lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees. Carefully transfer chickpeas to the bowl, then toss to coat them in the seasonings. Return the chickpeas to the baking sheet and spread out evenly. Return pan to the oven for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftover cooled chickpeas in an airtight container for another day or two.

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Betty Williams