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Carb Solutions: Crunchy, Salty Holiday Finger Food

Image of Chickpeas
By Dennis Linden

Over half of the U.S. adult population, some 154 million, qualify as being overweight or obese. Another 29 million of us have Diabetes, many as a direct result of being overweight. Then there are the 23.9 million overweight children who are dutifully following the example of their XXL adult role models. Diabetes and these extra pounds cost this country billions annually in both medical and economic resources; not to mention the affect these weight-related maladies have on a person’s overall mental well-being and happiness. However, both diabetes and being overweight are very manageable, even preventable, with a few lifestyle tweaks. By maintaining a sensible diet in conjunction with some consistent exercise, no matter how minimal, we can all be in total control of our own weight. One easy way to start taking that control is to make decisions about the foods we eat based on the glycemic index [GI] and glycemic load [GL].

Simply put, our bodies convert all foods into sugar calories that provide energy to the body via the blood stream. The Glycemic Index assigns a score of 1 to 100 to all foods based how speedy the body converts that food into sugar. Foods that break down slowly enable the body to assimilate theses calories of energy more efficiently without overwhelming the body with more sugar than it can process. While this is especially important for diabetics who process sugars much slower than others, everyone can benefit from eating foods that have low glycemic scores since they also reduce appetite and encourage the metabolism to burn body fat. Conversely, a diet of foods high on the glycemic charts have been proven to actually increase appetite and impede effective fat oxidation.

A Quickie Glycemic Primer:
  • The glycemic index of a food compares its effect on blood sugar level to that of pure glucose, which has a score of 100. White breads, which are made of processed white flour, are at the top of this scale, scoring a “perfect” 100 on the glycemic index. For perspective, a score of 55 or below denotes a low-glycemic-index food; 70 or above is considered very high. Serving size is not a consideration in arriving at a food’s Glycemic Index number.
  • The glycemic load, on the other hand, focuses on how much digestible carbohydrates (sugars) a food contains in a typical single serving, which is defined as approximately 3.5 ounces. For glycemic load, a score of 20 or more is high, while 10 or less is low.
Googling the word “garbanzo” will produce countless recipes on how to infuse all sorts of flavor additives into these whipped beans to make them taste more interesting; for me, hummus has always been--and excuse the pun--rather ho-hummus mediocre in the flavor department, no matter the choice of supporting condiments. However, baking or frying this undeniably nutritious bean into a crunchy finger food provides those of us having to count carbs, especially at this time of year, with a healthy alternative to the platters of sugar-laden, baked goods that seem to bury every holiday season appetizer table in empty, high-carb calories.

There are four characteristics that make for a good hand snack food in this country. It must be salty and crunchy. It must also be crunchy and salty. It would qualify immediately if it were called a potato chip or a tortilla chip. Unfortunately those salted, deep fried crispy in oil, wafers are no better glycemicly than all those platters of white flour goodies. ‘Tis the season, so what’s a carb-sensitive body to do?

There are four ways to rehydrate dried garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas) for cooking into the perfect, low-carb finger food. There’s the LONG soak in cold water overnight or minimum of 10 hours; the QUICK soak in warm water and then a 3-hour simmer; or perhaps the CROCK POT method of 4 hours on high heat or 8 hours on low heat. On the other hand, one can simply drain and dry a few packages of Melissa’s Peeled & Steamed Garbanzo Beans and then proceed directly to the oven or stovetop for a bowl of tasty crunchiness in about 30 minutes! (No, Ginny, garbanzo beans do not grow in cans but can taste that way).

Drying the garbanzos completely is really the key to turning the beans crunchy quickly, but don’t go overboard. I found a few recipes on-line that called for a 24-hour air dry and others that recommended just a quick pat down with paper towels. After a little r & d in my own kitchen, I kind of split the difference after comparing a batch that were dried overnight to another that were rolled and patted dry several times over about a 2-hour airing. I found no noticeable difference between the cooking to crunchiness rates or, more importantly, the crunch factor in one drying method over another. Besides, drying overnight would waste the same time as soaking with no gain in quality so why bother? Still, take a few hours to pull as much moisture out as possible.

However, while both the stovetop fry and oven bake produced equally crunchy textures to the bean, be forewarned that the stovetop method is much more labor intensive with also probably a little more hands-on control of the final product. That is, pan frying the beans required constant tending with a spatula to keep the beans moving to attain an even cook on all sides. During this process, which uses a little more oil than baking, one can feel the density of the garbanzos “lighten” as the beans loose moisture and weight in crisping up. Even the sound of the beans being turned over in the pan will take on a metal-on-metal, tinny echo as the beans harden. These changes happen in gradations that are felt and heard, hence a more controlled cook.

I also got good results using the oven, though baking does not mean just coating the beans in oil and turning on a timer. The beans still need to be flipped over (twice on each side) during the half-hour…ish cooking time. Actually, the first batch I baked came out with a bit of a soft center to each bean surrounded by a delightfully crunchy outer layer. I kind of liked the contrasting textures, though the full-crunch of the pan-fried garbanzos fared a little better in the day-old taste test. However, as a snack food, garbanzos do not do well leftover once cooked. Rehydrated garbanzos can be frozen for up to three months, but one should bake or fry in small batches easily consumed in one sitting. Of course, that quantity to be prepared should definitely take into account the addictive quality to these salty little nuggets of crispiness; fear of there being any leftovers is highly unlikely!

Since there are more seasoning combinations than there are garbanzo beans on the planet, the recipe below demonstrates both the commonality and options in preparing these low carb beans for those flavor variations, as well as

Crispy Garbanzo Beans
Image of Peeled & Steamed Chickpeas
Drain Melissa’s Peeled & Steamed Garbanzo Beans and spread out on a cookie sheet, pat dry with paper towels then let air dry for at least 2 hours. Occasionally turning them over and applying more toweling until thoroughly void of moisture. (2 packages per cookie sheet)
Image of Garbanzo Beans on cookie sheet
Garbanzos can be either oven baked or fried on the stovetop. For oven: Spread out on cookie sheet coated in cooking spray and covered with parchment paper, toss the dried chickpeas with olive oil and bake @ 400°F or until crispy, about 30 minutes, flipping four times during the baking process. For Stovetop: Heat oil in a 12" non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches depending upon quantity needs, add chickpeas to skillet and sauté, stirring constantly until beans are golden and crispy, 15–20 minutes. If necessary transfer chickpeas to paper towels to drain briefly.
Image of mixing chickpeas with paprika
Place baked or fried chickpeas in a medium bowl, toss with a little oil so flavoring components will coat, then add preferred seasonings, mix thoroughly and serve.
Image of Ingredients
Crispy Chickpeas I
Serves 6-8


2 pkgs. Melissa’s Peeled & Steamed Garbanzo Beans, drained, patted very dry, baked or fried crispy
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBS smoked paprika
1 TBS ground cumin
Sea salt, to taste


Combine paprika and cumin in a small bowl. Place garbanzo in a medium bowl, toss with olive oil. Sprinkle in the paprika mixture and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt.
Image of ingredients 2
Crispy Chickpeas II

2 pkgs. Melissa’s Peeled & Steamed Garbanzo Beans, drained, patted very dry, baked or fried crispy
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 TBS Green Hatch Chili Powder
2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest
Sea salt, to taste


Combine the three seasoning powders in a small bowl, once chickpeas are crispy, remove from the oven or stovetop toss with the olive oil and powders mixture. Then add a little more oil if necessary and toss the chickpeas again with the lime zest and salt.
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