As consumers become more health-conscious while also desiring comforting flavors, there is a push for healthy, sweet treats.
Fortunately, chickpeas have answered the call. They made their debut on the American consumer stage with hummus several decades ago. Now, consumers are seeing the full spectrum of what this tiny legume can do, from chickpea flour to aquafaba. The chickpea is quickly becoming a popular addition to healthy plant-based treats, either as a supporting ingredient or superstar in their own right.
While chickpeas have experienced a steady15% growth on US chain and independent menus over the past four years (’16-’20), mentions of aquafaba, an egg white substitute made with the liquid leftover from cooked chickpeas, have increased over 1,000%. And Burmese Shan tofu, a chickpea tofu salad is just starting to get noticed as a soy-alternative for plant-based eating.
COMFORT FOODS ARE IN
A new poll of 2,000 Americans found that two in three are reverting to childhood food favorites and eating more comfort food during the pandemic. That includes an uptick in such favorites as pizza (55%), hamburgers (48%), ice cream (46%), French fries (45%), mac and cheese (38%), spaghetti and meatballs (32%) and others.
Chickpeas may not strike most as a snack food on their own, but their mild, earthy flavor and creamy texture make them a prime choice for snacking, especially when combined with sweeter flavors.
One snacking pea is Lebby’s Chickpea Snacks, made from roasted chickpeas covered in sweet toppings. These naturally gluten-free treats come in a few flavors, such as dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mocha, and sesame honey. The choice of classic dessert flavors makes this unusual treat more familiar to new consumers, encouraging them to give these delicious chickpeas a try.
Another chocolate-coated delight comes from My Sweet Chickpea, with similar flavors to Lebby’s: dark chocolate, coconut & dark chocolate, and cappuccino & dark chocolate. As a bonus, these treats are vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free.
Grocery store shelves have expanded substantially with nut butters in recent years. From classic peanut and almond to cashew and pistachio, consumers have more choices than ever. Now, those choices are expanding even beyond nuts to include other creamy ingredients such as chickpeas. Field Trip has created a delectable chickpea-based peanut butter alternative that comes in three varieties -- creamy classic, cinnamon churro, and chocolate spread. Its texture is very similar to that of peanut butter, while its mild chickpea flavor makes a perfect backdrop for other ingredients such as cinnamon and chocolate.
Chickpeas are a surprisingly versatile baking ingredient, making a good substitute for flour in many recipes. Unlike flour, however, they also pack in lots of protein and fiber while being gluten-free. Especially for those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, chickpeas are a must-have baking ingredient.
One decadent chickpea-based dessert comes from British chef Nigella Lawson’s website. The recipe is for a quick and simple chickpea chocolate cake, which starts with blended chickpeas, then adds orange juice, eggs, vanilla, honey, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda. Once baked for 50 minutes, this mixture becomes a fluffy, moist, and healthy cake, ready for a little icing or to be eaten on its own.
Let’s collaborate on a sweet innovation made with chickpea. Contact your McCormick account manager or contact us today.