Need to know
- Chickpeas are a good source of protein, fibre and vitamins and minerals, for children and adults alike
- Some store-bought chickpea snacks are healthier than others – many are surprisingly high in sodium and saturated fat
- If you want to avoid the expense and packaging of store-bought chickpea snacks, we show you how to make your own
It's that elusive item: the lunchbox snack that's tasty (no parent wants food coming home in the lunchbox uneaten), convenient and also healthy.
The assortment of packaged chickpea snacks on supermarket shelves – often in the health food aisle – appear to tick all the boxes.
Chickpeas are legumes that are a great source of protein, fibre and various vitamins and minerals and, as with all vegetables, we can benefit from eating more of them.
Chickpeas are legumes that are a great source of protein, fibre and various vitamins and minerals
And the various forms of chickpea snacks in the supermarket include chips and choc-coated, which have bona fide kid-appeal (just don't tell them they're made from good-for-you legumes!).
But how do store-bought chickpea snacks stack up in reality? We take a closer look at the packaged chickpea snacks in the snack aisles of major supermarkets and grocers. We also heat up the kitchen with our homemade spicy roasted chickpea snacks.
Rafferty's Garden Cheese Chickpea pops
Bains Wholefoods Chickpea Chips
Chips of all varieties are a guaranteed hit with kids. And generally speaking chickpea chips, crisps and pops are a higher protein and fibre alternative to regular potato chips.
While some chickpea chip products contain less sodium than regular potato chips, many are still very salty with more than 600mg sodium per 100g. A few that we came across were also high in saturated fat, probably because of the type of vegetable oil used in their production.
Not all chickpea chip products come in snack-sized portions either, so you'll need to divvy up the share packs for lunchboxes. The recommended serve size is provided in the nutrition information panel, but a good rule of thumb for snacks is a portion that's no more than 600kJ – enough energy to keep children going but not so much as to ruin their next meal.
And on a per 100g basis, chickpea chips have fewer chickpeas and are generally more expensive than other types of chickpea snacks.
More than 600mg sodium per 100g is a lot, so check the per 100g column in the nutrition information panel and look for chickpea chips with less.
Healthier marinated chickpeas: Edgell Chick Peas with Zesty Vinaigrette
Healthier marinated chickpeas: Edgell Chick Peas with Olive Oil, Garlic & Rosemary
Marinated chickpeas are mainly chickpeas flavoured with a seasoned dressing, and they're sold in a convenient snack-sized portion. These snacks, on average, contain a higher percentage of chickpeas and are lower in saturated fat and sugars than other chickpea snacks.
And on a per-100g basis, marinated chickpeas are, on average, cheaper than the other types of chickpea snacks we looked at.
Cans can be tricky to open, so these may not be a suitable lunchbox snack for younger children – unless they ask an adult to help with the packaging.
These make a great lunchbox snack for kids once they're adept at opening cans.
Healthier roasted chickpeas: The Happy Snack Company Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas Lime & Cracked Pepper
Healthier roasted chickpeas: The Happy Snack Company Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas Lightly Salted
The roasting process dehydrates the chickpeas and concentrates beneficial nutrients (such as fibre and protein) so there are more as a proportion of the whole compared with other types of chickpea snack.
They're available in multipacks, in convenient snack-sized portions.
The chocolate-coated varieties, which children are more likely to choose if given the option, are high in saturated fat and sugars. Individual portions may be convenient, but they also create more plastic packaging.
For the healthiest options look for those with 1.5g or less saturated fat and 5g or less sugars in the per 100g column of the nutrition information panel. (Spoiler alert: these options are unlikely to be coated in chocolate!)
Homage to hummus
It can be difficult for adults trying to eat the number of recommended serves of vegetables a day, let alone trying to get your children to do the same.
It's even more of a struggle if you leave it until the evening meal to try and incorporate all their daily vegies. So including a couple of serves of vegie snacks in their lunchbox – chickpeas or otherwise – is a good start.
Some of the healthier packaged chickpea snacks that we looked at are a decent option. Another chickpea-based food that's ideal for lunchboxes is hummus – top marks if it's paired with some carrot, capsicum, celery or cucumber sticks for dipping.
How to cook chickpeas
Prefer to avoid buying packaged snacks? It's easy to make your own chickpea snacks at home by roasting them in your air fryer or oven.
And if you keep the liquid you drain off from the canned chickpeas (known as 'aquafaba'), you can even make vegan meringues for a weekend treat – after all, waste not want not!
Fiona Mair, CHOICE home economist, shares her recipes.
Spicy roasted chickpeas.
Recipe: Spicy roasted chickpeas
- 400g canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- Extra virgin olive oil or vegetable spray
- Spice mix: ¼ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp cumin, ½ tsp smoked paprika, ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- Sea salt, optional
- Preheat air fryer to 180–200°C or oven to 200°C (fan forced)
- Dry chickpeas thoroughly, discarding any loose skins
- Combine the chickpeas with the oil and spices, mix well
- Air fryer: Pour seasoned chickpeas into the air fryer basket lined with baking paper and cook for about 10–15 minutes, or until they are golden and crispy. Shake the basket a few times during cooking
- Oven: Pour seasoned chickpeas into a shallow baking dish lined with baking paper and cook on the middle shelf for 25–30 minutes or until the chickpeas are golden and crispy. Shake the baking dish a few times during cooking
- Sprinkle with salt (if using). Serve warm or cool and store in an airtight container
- Chickpeas can 'pop' when heated so take care when shaking during cooking.
- Experiment with your spice mix. Another good combo is curry powder, zaatar, lemon zest, black pepper and sumac.
- Look for canned chickpeas that are firm.
Homemade aquafaba meringues.
Recipe: Aquafaba meringues
- 160ml chickpea liquid (drained from a 400g can chickpeas)
- 1 cup caster sugar
- Preheat oven to 120°C (fan-forced)
- In a bench mixer bowl pour in the aquafaba. Using a balloon whisk on high speed, whisk for 12–15 mins until the mixture is thick and glossy
- Gradually sprinkle over sugar while whisking. Stop whisking and scrape down the sides well
- Continue to whisk a further 10 mins on a medium-low speed until the sugar is dissolved. (Check by rubbing some of the mixture between your fingers. If you feel the sugar grains, continue whisking a further 3 mins or until the sugar has dissolved)
- Line two flat baking trays with baking paper. Use a ½ cup measure to place meringue mixture on the trays, smoothing the mixture slightly and allowing space for the meringues to increase in size. About 6 portions on each tray
- Place trays on two shelves (lowest and middle) in a fan-forced oven preheated to 120°
- Cook for 1½–2 hours or until the meringue base is firm
- Remove from the oven and let cool
- Serve with berries and cream or dairy-free substitute
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.