The nutritionist shares her favorite healthy foods for a longer life – and 6 simple recipes

Switching up the foods you eat by adding more nutrient-rich items to your diet can dramatically improve your health and longevity.

As a dietitian, one of my always favorite healthy foods in my kitchen is a can of salt-free (or low-sodium) organic chickpeas. Chickpeas are a type of legume in the same family as beans and peanuts. Chickpeas are sometimes called chickpeas, the most common chickpeas have a round shape and beige in color, but other types of chickpeas are black, green or red.

A staple of the Mediterranean diet, chickpeas are rich in fiber and protein, both of which are essential for healthy bones, muscles, and skin. (One cup of chickpeas provides 12.5 grams of fiber and 14.5 grams of protein.)

Even longevity expert Dan Buettner agrees on the health benefits of chickpeas. Buettner, who coined the term “blue zones” — or places around the world where people live the longest — has asked dozens of prominent nutritionists and food scientists what people should eat to enjoy long, healthy lives. And chickpeas were found to be among the most recommended foods, “like a flashing neon sign.”

Here are six simple, quick and innovative ways to incorporate chickpeas into your daily eating routine:

1. Replace croutons with roasted chickpeas in salads

This is a great way to add crunch, fiber, protein, and flavor to your bowl of greens.

Roasted chickpeas are easily available in most grocery stores, but you can also make them at home by rinsing and drying canned chickpeas. (It helps to soak them in between clean paper towels or tea towels.) Then add a few tablespoons of olive oil and grill it on a cookie sheet at 400°F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until it turns crispy and golden brown.

If you want a stronger flavor, add spices such as paprika, cumin, or black pepper.

2. Add chickpeas to smoothies for extra cream

3. Enjoy bites of hummus dough without bread as snacks

4. Top the pizza with barbecue-flavored chickpeas

I like to use roasted chickpeas as a topping for pizza. It’s a simple way to add both protein and flavor to any slice of savory pie.

Simply mix your favorite BBQ sauce with the chickpeas, toss to coat evenly, then spread on a savory topping.

5. Sprinkle mashed chickpeas on avocado toast

6. Hummus dumplings for brunch

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