In praise of ceci beans (and other food trials)

Garbanzo beans, ceci beans, gram, chickpeas, they’re all the same thing.

For the record, we say “garbanzo beans” around here, but “ceci” is such fun to say:   CHEH-chee.   :mrgreen:

This past week, in hopes of expanding our “safe” foods list, I did a food trial of garbanzo beans (in the form of flour — gram flour) on Fiala.  She passed with flying colors — she loved it, her poop was 100% healthy, and it didn’t cause any further skin conditions.

Also of importance is that I LOVE IT.  I cannot tell you how absolutely refreshingly brilliant it felt to be eating something that I love.

I’m starting to feel like it was really the provision of God that I discovered farinata right before we started the total elimination diet, nearly four weeks ago.  That simple recipe combines garbanzo flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil and a Really Hot Oven into one of the most unique, flavorful, addictive flatbreads I have ever tried.  If it hadn’t been for our few days gorging on farinata, I would likely not have used it as one of Fiala’s earliest food trials.  I’m not brave enough (or rash enough, or whatever) to try olive oil, pepper, and rosemary yet, but even a very simple flatbread made from a fairly thin batter of water, garbanzo flour,  and salt, cooked on a cast iron griddle oiled with rendered lamb fat, tasted so fabulous — just shy of the dreamy perfection of actual farinata — that within two days, I used up my entire large bag of garbanzo flour.

For those of you dairy-free and missing it, stuff made from garbanzo flour TASTES LIKE CHEESE.  No lie.  Even my cheese-obsessed 12yo son agrees.  Mmmmmm….  I have read that one can even make a tofu-like substance out of garbanzo flour;  I may try that.

The extra-good news is that garbanzo flour doesn’t give Fiala gas like pintos do.  Fiala tolerates pintos well, and likes them, but I’ve discovered that if I feed them to her at bedtime, she is uncomfortably gassy, and wakes extra-often.  😦  She’s already waking twice a night, so I really am not looking for reasons for her to wake more often.

In slightly related news, I picked up the Body Ecology Diet book from the library yesterday.  In flipping through it, I feel that I could fairly easily incorporate its ideas/ingredients into a consistent diet for Fiala and me.  I’ve only just started actually reading the book, so I cannot say for certain, yet.  Regarding the library:  As a resident of the city of Peoria, I feel like a traitor, because we were WOWED by the brand-new Agave Branch of the Phoenix Library — free for all residents of Maricopa County (unlike the fabulous Glendale Library, on whose membership we spent $40/year for years).  Peoria opened a nice new library recently, and we’ve been going there.  But, we figured out that the Agave Branch is actually closer to our house… and now that we’ve been there, we will likely never go back to the Peoria library, because the new Will Bruder-designed Agave is FABULOUS — funky, arty, well-laid-out, lots of space to sit, a fabulous under-five play/read area, and about QUADRUPLE the books of the brand-new Peoria branch.  Free, closer, better facilities… we’re hooked.

In directly-related food news, I have decided that blueberries will be our next food trial, followed by green beans.  I’m looking for foods that are low in sugar (even natural sugars), low-allergenic, and that would be easy for Fiala to eat, and hopefully tasty to her.

Also, desperate for a crunchy snack for myself, I tried eating sunflower seeds — that was a no-go.  However, the seeds I have were cooked with soybean oil, so maybe that’s the problem.  I don’t know.  They didn’t seem to affect Fiala’s digestion, but her skin broke out again.  Then, when her skin was looking better, I tried raw almonds.  Nope — skin again.  On both, I tried a very small portion for 2-3 nights in a row, and when there was no apparent effect, I had a larger portion the following day…  But, her skin just couldn’t hack it, and now I’m feeling awful, because the skin on her face and behind her legs, which had previously healed to near-perfection, is red and scaly and itchy again.  😦  Oh, well.  We’re learning, though.  I read on another blog that one can take cooked (I’m assuming boiled) garbanzos, and sprinkle them with salt (and/or other seasonings, but we’d have to stick with salt for now), and bake them, and they turn into a fantastic crunchy snack.  I will definitely try that.

So.  I feel like this past week has been more GOOD news than BAD news with Fiala’s skin and digestion and general health.  Bless God.

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on October 10, 2009, in Allergies, Babies, Books I'm Reading, Dairy-free, Digestive Woes, Library, The Kids, Total Elimination Diet. Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. I’ve seen boiled or canned garbonzo beans dredged in flour then deep fried before too.. If you use garbonzo flour as the flour and lamb oil…

    I’m so glad that the farinata is working for you! It made me happy to see that you could add some more items to your diet and that Fiala is dong so well.

  2. glutenfree4goofs

    We used garbonzo’s to make hummus. Soak, boil, blend, season. You’ll probably have to wait until you’ve added a couple seasonings and olive oil but something to look forward to maybe.

    Judah’s face always bleeds when he eats anything cooked in soy oil (though I had read sensitivity to the oil is rare) and with all the tree nuts. Bummer for little fiala that they didn’t work out. Want me to mail some raw sunflower seeds? I’ve got a couple flowers to “harvest”! Ha ha! 😉

  3. I tried the garbanzo farinata recipe you had put on your post several days ago (or more?) and became an addict myself. And you’re right. Garbanzo does have a cheesy taste to it. I’ve been experimenting with different herbs in it. It’s really like eating flatbread made in the middle east.
    Someone told me that soaking beans overnight makes them more digestable and a heap less gassy.
    It’s very encouraging to hear Fiala is able to tolerate garbanzo. They are nutritious. Hope you keep finding more foods for her!

  4. I took the kids to the park this afternoon. While we were there I kept smelling someone BBQing. It smelled sooooo good it got me craving a hamburger. I haven’t really enjoyed hamburgers since going GF. It just isn’t the same without a bun, you know? Anyway, I got home and read your blog and saw this flatbread. I have a bunch of garbanzo bean flour which I really actually dislike and I have rosemary in the garden. So I whipped up some hamburgers and put them on the grill outside (perfect weather!) and made this flatbread. I just laid the burgers on the flatbread. It was AWESOME. Today was the first time I have enjoyed burgers in the longest time. Totally didn’t miss the fluffy wheat bun! Actually, I think we all enjoyed it more!! Thanks so much for posting this. Totally awesome idea. Now I can finally use up some of that flour.

    • Oh, Kim, you both encouraged me and inspired me!! Seems like about every time I think, “What’s the point??” in blogging, someone sends me a note like yours. 🙂 I really appreciate it; I can totally picture your fam digging into hamburgers and loving it. On a similar note, I read this right after I was considering how to use up the leftover top sirloin steak I had purposefully grilled way too much of, last night. After reading your comment, I decided, too, to make garbanzo flatbread, small-size, and use it for the bread/bun for steak sandwiches!! We were out of lettuce, but everyone (well, everyone except me!) had onion, avocado, and tomato, and those who could had slivers of parmesan… Mmmm… I heated up some of my lamb roast on the griddle, and had me a sandwich, too! (And tried not to covet the veggies and dijon mustard.)

  5. oh this is good news!!!

    i think i need to be stricter with my diet. ven had a riugh week! fussy and lots of waking. my allergies have been insane! then sean realized our AC unit in our room (which we use on the fan setting at night – and which is DIRECTLY above my and ven’s head is moldy/mildewy on the inside! arg!!! so gross gross gross. so hopefully getting rid of that little gem will help us both feel better. I am praying that’s teh answer

    • In a way, I’m so thankful that the vast majority of our family’s allergies are not environmental ones. Those are just so much harder to control!! If it’s a food, it’s simple: you just don’t eat it. But, if you have an environmental allergy, you never know where you might encounter it!

      I still haven’t read much of the Body Ecology Diet book, but as I read, I have thought, “I bet this would work for Henny & V.” No pressure…. I just want to see you and your little man happy and healthy, too!!!!

  6. GREAT info! Karen Joy…I’m so glad I stumbled onto your blog! It’s so good to “see” you! 🙂

    (Kmama in TX from SL)

    • Hi, Kara!! I’ll check in w/ your latest SL posts to see what’s going on in your family’s lives. 🙂 Other than a post recently where I commented about All Sail Set, I haven’t spent much time there recently!

  7. I’m glad you have been able to add a couple of more foods. I hope Fiala’s skin continues to improve. And I must say, I am among those people who admire you for dropping everything out of your diet… 🙂 I don’t know if I could ever do that, even for my children. Although, I suppose we never really know what we are able to do until we have to.

    Just out of curiosity, I am wondering how long you plan on breastfeeding Fiala for… Until her digestive system is as normal as it will ever be?

    And on a side note… can you believe that our babies are almost a year old???? (If you don’t remember, I found your blog because my daughter, who was born on the same day as Fiala, was teething all out of order.)

    • Oh, thank you for reminding me of who you are!! My memory is so shaky these days… seems like my brain is full!! Happy birthday to your baby!! Fiala isn’t teething out of order like my daughter Audrey did, but she has a MOUTHFUL of teeth. She just cut her 12th. Seriously. 🙂

      Anyways. I plan on breastfeeding her until she has at least a good balance of proteins, carbs, fruits, veggies, etc., that she can eat — enough ingredients for a well-balanced (if simple) diet. I don’t anticipate that happening for at least another couple of months. I nursed Audrey until she was 21 months… I’m totally fine with going 18 months or whatever.

      I would also like to be able to provide her with some other sort of drink, too, before I stop nursing. I just started giving her water a couple of weeks ago — I had the brain blast to give it to her with a straw. Duh. She would never take a bottle or a sippy cup, but she loves drinking from a straw. So, now I’m at least confident that she will drink SOMETHING besides breastmilk straight from me.

      (This is surely a much longer answer than you were anticipating!!) I guess I would also like to go to the ped g.i. doc first to see if there’s an underlying enzyme or malabsorption issue going on with her. I don’t have any appointment made yet… maybe I should do that. 🙂

      • haha… Thanks for the long answer, those are the best kind, especially when they make all kinds of sense. 🙂 Fiala has twice as many teeth as Ilona! And she only had three until she was about 10.5 months, when she suddenly cut three top teeth all within a day of each other.

        I’m impressed that Fiala drinks from a straw. I tried with Ilona, but she only chews on it. Mind you, she does love drinking from cups.

  8. I had to come here and say THANK YOU for the recommendation of Farinata, I made some yesterday for the first time and it was delicious! I think I may need to grill the top a little as it may have been a bit soft, but it was still lovely. I ate a whole batch and called it dinner! 🙂

    Chana flour is so cheap in the Indian stores too, so it’s a fantastic option to have on hand. What recipe do you use by the way?

    • Woo hoo! I’m so glad you tried it and liked it!! I have had to experiment a bit to find out the consistency I prefer by baking it +/- 5 minutes or so.

      I used this recipe: However, I cut it in half (as I only have one cast iron pan), decreased the salt (using 1 tsp per cup and a half of chana/garbanzo/chickpea flour), decreased the olive oil (to 1/4 cup), and increased the rosemary because I love it so! I also mixed the pepper into the batter instead of just grinding it on top. (Obviously, that’s American measure… )

  9. I think American measures are the same anyway – all the recipes I use from the net are American and I never have trouble!

    I made it again last night (and ate 3/4 of it in one sitting -oops. But I grilled it a little at the end and turned the oven a bit higher to start with and I think it tasted better. Both my flatmates seemed to like it too when I gave them a taste of it. Yay for Italian peasant food, I’m adding to my list of Indian peasant food recipes!

    On that subject, when I was having dinner with some Indian friends recently I told them I cook with Sorghum flour quite a lot and they could hardly contain the disdain. It turns out Sorghum is poor people food in Indian. Oh well, poor people food is low fat, high protein and high fibre so I don’t mind!

  10. Hi again, Karen,

    I am not sure what kind of chickpeas you use (canned vs. dried) but I prefer dried that I cook myself. The texture and taste is so much better! And more allergen-free.

    Here is how I prepare them: Pick through the dried chickpeas and rinse in a strainer. Soak overnight (12-24 hours) in the crockpot (turned off, no lid) with 1 Tbsp of lemon juice (or maybe apple cider vinegar) per cup of dried beans and the rest of the crockpot filled with filtered water, preferably room temperature. The acid makes the beans more digestible (ie, less gassy).

    The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put them back in the crockpot and cook for ~8 hours on low. I usually add a quartered onion and a bay leaf, too.

    I have heard that chickpea liquid/juice makes a great vegetarian broth. And it’s way cheaper than boxed broth or homemade chicken stock since it’s free. 🙂 I have yet to try this since I only read this tip yesterday but I saved the liquid (the spoonful I tasted was yummy) and plan to use it in a butternut squash soup (the one from Elana’s Pantry blog is DELICIOUS).

    I froze 1.5-1.75 cups of chickpeas in ziplocs. Use them like canned beans. You could also add salt or Herbamare to taste with a little of the bean liquid to integrate the salt. I’d imagine you could even “refry” them like black or pinto beans.

    Have you considered introducing sweet potatoes or root vegetables/winter squash to Fiala? Those are supposed to be easily digested.

    • Thanks for all the tips! I do both home-soaked & cooked chickpeas, and canned.

      Adding an acid to soaking chickpeas won’t hurt anything, but unlike with other beans, you likely don’t need it. Chickpeas are one of the least gassy beans.

      The only thing that is weird about homemade chickpea liquor/broth is that it congeals. It’s very odd… In fact, I have read that some tribes in Tibet make the equivalent to tofu, but with chickpeas, as it is high in protein and has that natural congealing quality.

      About Fiala – I did try yams, and it was a no-go. On a MSPI forum I’m on, a lot of mothers who have babies w/ digestive problems found that, oddly enough, the yellow & orange veggies were HARDER for their little ones to digest. I haven’t tried other winter squashes, partly because she did so poorly with yams. I have been considering it, though… I’ll probably try butternut soon.

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