Chickpeas such a great food for children and everyone!

Do you cook with Chickpeas? They are full of protein and iron

When we think about foods that are high in protein and fibre, chickpeas might not be one of them. We should because they are a great source of protein especially when cooked.

Chickpeas are a great source of iron (as well as folate, zinc and B6). These vitamins are vital for growth and development. Iron is vital for babies being important for the rapid growth spurt that happens up till around the age of two. The stores that babies are born with start to run out by the age of 6 months. Iron deficiency is a real concern and it is important that babies are getting enough of this important mineral.

Foods that are rich in vitamin C help the iron to be absorbed during meals; suggestions are:

Broccoli
Citrus fruits
Bell peppers
Berries

When to start

A baby can start eating chickpeas as soon as they start to wean at around 6 months. Be careful not to give them whole at this age because of the danger of choking. They mash up really easily. Make sure you take off the skin which peels away very easily.

Hummus made from chickpeas is particularly good for babies. Homemade hummus is easy to make and by making your own you know exactly what has gone into it. Some babies might be allergic to sesame if so your homemade version can omit the tahini. Also, watch the salt and be mindful of the oil you use and how much.

Falafel

You dont need the butternut squash but I liked the taste, you can use any veggie or just chickpeas

Ingredients

Half a butternut squash
1 onion
1 tin chickpeas
2 garlic gloves
Salt pepper and other flavourings such as garam or coriander, cumin, mixed herbs..

Method

Cut the squash into cubes and slice the onion
Drizzle with a little oil and bake in the oven for 20 mins
Mix together with the chickpeas and spices,
Using a food processor or a potato masher mix until smooth if there are odd pieces of chickpeas this is fine as it will give more texture
Roll into balls and cover in flour
I bake mine in an air fryer but they could be baked in the oven, Usually, they are deep-fried, but this is unhealthy!

Hummus

1 tin of chickpeas drained
80 ml olive oil
1 – 2 garlic cloves or a squeeze from a tube
A little lemon juice
3 tbsp tahini ( Or omit if allergic to sesame)

Method

Rinse the chickpeas
Mix all the ingredients together until blended
If too thick add some water to stir thoroughly

Chickpeas puree really well and can be added with ingredients such as tomatoes to make a first food. Roast the tomatoes and remove the skins and seeds from the tomatoes and the skins from the chickpeas. Puree until smooth. Freeze in ice cube trays.

Falafels are another really easy meal to make that older child will love

There are two different ways to buy chickpeas, either in cans or dried in packets.

Tins are easier, but be careful as the chickpeas are often in salty water. Give them a good wash before using them. They are already cooked and tender so just need warming up.

Dried chickpeas need a good 12 – 24 hours soaking before they are even ready to be cooked. Then they need a long cooking time until they are tender.

My suggestion is to have a few tins of chickpeas in the cupboard as a useful staple.

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