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Healthy snack: roasted garbonzo beans (aka garbo nuts!)

Dscn1072 A few months ago we stopped buying orange, cheddar-flavored crackers in an effort to reduce our reliance on processed foods. It was really, really hard because it was so darn convenient to pour out little bowls of Annie's bunny crackers when the kids got hungry, or pack them for school snacks. However, I felt we needed to add more whole foods to our snack repertoire, so we've been experimenting. Hummus with carrot sticks has been a hit. Apples smeared with peanut butter is a home run with my son who generally prefers the brown food group (bread, granola, peanut butter).

I first heard about 'garbo nuts' through my friend Gail who made them, and then I came upon a recipe in the book 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans and Grains. Roasted garbonzo beans (or chick peas) are a crunchy, salty, healthy, protein-filled snack. My kids liked them at first, but the roasted beans are really crunchy and after awhile the kids didn't like how hard they had to crunch down on them. I, however, really like them. A small handful easily satiates my snacking needs.

Roasted Garbonzo Beans (Garbo Nuts!)  Yield: 1.5 Cups

1 cup uncooked chick peas  *  6 cups water  *  2 tbsp hot sauce (Tabasco)  *  1 tsp ground cumin  *  garlic powder  *  salt

Combine beans with water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Drain well. Toss beans with hot sauce and cumin.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly spray cooking sheet with non-stick spray. (Or oil it. I actually just tossed the beans in some olive oil and the hot sauce and cumin all at once.) Spread the beans on a baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes until the beans make a popping sound, shaking the baking sheet a few times while they bake. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and continue to bake for another 30 minutes until the beans are well-browned and crunchy. Sprinkle beans with garlic powder (I skipped this) and salt to taste and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

It took about an hour before my beans started popping, so I ended up leaving them in a 400 degree oven for 1.5 hours, reducing to 325 degrees for 30 minutes. I know, 2 hours in the oven! It could be that I roasted them too long, though I kept snacking on them during the cooking process and it took 2 hours for them to get crispy. I'm going to keep experimenting with garbo nuts and other roasted snacks (soybeans are next, and peas!).

What healthy snacks are hits in your home?

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