Mediterranean Chickpea Salad…A Healthy Vegetarian Option

I am not a vegetarian, nor do I intend to be, but I do believe in this day and age we Americans are definitely over consuming protein. I am not talking about high biological value (HBV) protein, which is what REAL animal products such as chicken, turkey, fish and eggs contain…I am talking about all these bars and shakes (even protein based cookies and chips!) that people seem to think they need. I have clients with digestive issues, and when I look at their diets and see the overconsumption of protein bars and lack of water in their diet, it is no wonder they feel bloated, because the more protein you consume, the more water you should be drinking!

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Anyhow, I guess my point is, not every meal HAS to have animal protein in it. It really depends on you. I know because I exercise 7 days a week, more often than not, my meals contain a high biological value protein in them, because it keeps me satiated. Sometimes I do half a chicken breast if I don’t feel like I need a whole one and eat the other half later. It really just depends on how I feel. And sometimes I do find it easier once in awhile on my digestive system to have a healthy vegetarian meal. This dish is Mediterranean inspired ( a personal favorite of mine) and very easy to make.

Fun Fact-One cup of cooked chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) contains 269 calories, 45 grams of carbohydrate, 15 grams of protein, 13 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of fat and 0 grams of cholesterol. Besides being an excellent vegan and gluten-free source of protein and fiber, chickpeas also contain exceptional levels of iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium. The high fiber content in chickpeas has been known to help lower glucose levels, blood pressure and decrease risk for heart disease.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp. cumin

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. lemon pepper

1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped into pieces

1 small English cucumber, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped

A little juice from the kalamata olive jar (optional but makes it taste even more amazing!)

Directions

In a medium bowl, whisk together, 1 tbsp. olive oil, the cumin and 1/4 tsp. sea salt. Then add the chickpeas and stir until they are coated with this mixture.

Next, in a medium non stick skillet, cook chickpea mixture over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the chickpeas are golden brown and slightly crisp, 4-5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic about half way through this process. Transfer all of this to a plate.

In another bowl, whisk together the vinegar, remaining olive oil, oregano and the rest of the sea salt and lemon pepper. Add the romaine, cucumber, onion, chickpeas, garlic and the olives. Toss it all together. Add the extra kalamata olive juice if desired.

ENJOY!