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Monday, April 15, 2024

Why every vegan college student should have canned chickpeas in their cupboard

Plus some college-friendly recipes that anyone can try


By CORALIE LOON — arts@theaggie.org 


The most common rumors surrounding a plant-based (or plant-heavy) diet often break down to a few main points: vegan or vegetarian food is either too expensive, time-consuming or lacking in nutritional value. Of course, any diet can be any of these things, depending on your purchasing and lifestyle habits. But veggie alternatives to meat products don’t have to be expensive or inconvenient.

For college students in particular, affordability and convenience are some of the most important traits of a good diet. As someone who started their college experience as a fairly fresh vegetarian, I’ve often felt simultaneously unsatisfied with the limited on-campus options and too overwhelmed or exhausted to cook a full meal.

That is, until I discovered canned chickpeas. When it came to other types of beans such as pinto, black beans or kidney beans, I viewed them as necessary but not particularly enjoyable. For a non-bean-lover, chickpeas changed the game, tasting more like a nutty, oversized lentil than a bean. 

Chickpeas, also referred to as garbanzo beans, are a high-protein legume that offer many health benefits. As well as containing 14.5 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, they also supply hearty amounts of fiber, manganese, vitamin B9, copper and iron. Having chickpeas in your diet would make it harder for vegan-skeptics to question whether or not you’re getting enough nutrients.

Chickpeas can be purchased either raw or pre-cooked, coming in a canned or boxed form. While cooking your own chickpeas from scratch might sound like a nice, leisurely night to some, it certainly isn’t the most practical way to go, especially if you’re a college student.

Sure, the canning process may slightly reduce the protein content of beans, but the ease and convenience of going the canned way outweighs any slight losses. A 15.5 oz can of chickpeas can be between $1 to $1.50 per can, a bargain compared to meaty alternatives.

Open Nature organic ground beef, for example, is $6.99 for 84 grams of protein, which is about 12 grams of protein per dollar. Safeway’s organic canned chickpeas, on the other hand, cost $1.69 for 24.5 grams of protein, which is about 14.5 grams of protein per dollar. Even for calories, organic chickpeas outpace organic beef with 249 calories per dollar (compared to beef’s 132).

In terms of nutrition and cost, canned chickpeas check every box. They are also deliciously versatile and surprisingly easy to prepare (partially because they come ready to eat). Chickpeas, either whole or mashed, can be used as a replacement for almost any meat product in a recipe.

For those looking for specific recipes, here are a few of my favorites:

Jessica in the Kitchen’s “Curried Chickpea Salad” can be eaten alone or turned into a filling sandwich. 

This Apricot, Almond & Chickpea Tagine from Hello Fresh is a delicious and flavorful dish for those with a bit more time on their hands.

Crispy toasted chickpeas (from Love & Lemons) can add spunk to any salad, wrap or rice bowl, or be eaten on their own as a crunchy snack.

On a cold day, Good Faith Fitness’ Creamy Chickpea Curry is a warm and comforting treat.

For those interested in my favorite dish, a hearty chickpea pasta sauce, keep reading for a personal recipe. 

While there are hundreds of chickpea recipes around the internet to try, one of my favorite things to do is create my own recipes, using chickpeas to alter the dishes I grew up eating or invent new ones. At the same time, as a college student, sometimes I need a simple and reliable recipe that will just do the bare minimum. For both of these reasons, canned chickpeas deserve much more love and appreciation, from veggie-lovers and meat eaters alike.


Coralie’s hearty chickpea pasta sauce


  • 1 ½ cups marinara sauce
  • 1 15-oz. can of chickpeas
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • large spoonful cream cheese (or vegan alternative)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 box rotini, fusilli or gemelli pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chili flakes (optional)



  1. Cook pasta in a medium pot using box instructions. In the meantime, heat the olive oil and minced garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until fragrant.
  2. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Add to skillet along with Italian seasoning, chili flakes or salt and pepper. Cook chickpeas over medium-high heat until lightly browned.
  3. Turn off heat on skillet and mash chickpeas with a fork until mostly crushed. Add marinara sauce and heat again.
  4. Once sauce is hot, add large spoonful of cream cheese and stir until melted. Drain pasta once done and return to pot. Mix sauce with pasta.
  5. Serve in bowls and top with cheese or nutritional yeast.


Written by: Coralie Loon — arts@theaggie.org



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