A chickpea salad, chilled in the fridge, is the perfect healthy lunch or dinner for a hot summer day. Or just have a small portion as a side salad along with your regular meal. In bodybuilding and fitness meal plans, the most popular sources of natural (unprocessed) starchy carbs in bodybuilding and fitness meal plans usually include oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes and white potatoes. Whole grain breads are also popular. Unfortunately, chickpeas and other legumes seem neglected.

chickpea and bell pepper salad

That’s a shame because legumes, including chickpeas and other beans, are nutrient dense and heart-healthy. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared the effects of a high fiber wheat diet with a diet containing chickpeas for five weeks. The group eating chickpeas showed a greater reduction in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.

Chickpeas also pack 13 grams of fiber per cup and the 14 grams of protein per cup is a nice bonus. Although the protein in beans is not considered a complete protein by itself, it can be mixed and matched with other types of proteins, and absolutely counts toward the daily protein total.

Here’s one more bonus: A study published in the journal Appetite showed that chickpeas helped to decrease perceived hunger and increase satiety (fullness). Hunger is a challenge for many people on reduced calories, so any food that does a good job satisfying hunger is a good choice for fat loss.

Chickpeas are fantastic in salads. In a previous recipe column, I introduced a tuna and spinach garbanzo bean salad, but this cool chickpea salad might be my new favorite. It’s fast and easy to make, it’s filling, it’s healthy, and it’s nutritious – what more could you ask for? Well, how about this: it’s colorful and presents beautifully!

As a bodybuilder, I’m always thinking, “Where is my muscle-building complete lean protein food in this meal?” So to make this an official Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle meal, I’ve tried this chickpea salad with Tuna mixed in. My protein preference with this chickpea salad however, is chicken. Lemon pepper chicken is my favorite.

Vegans of course, could enjoy this salad on its own, though the 12 grams of protein per serving is on the low side. (Maybe throw in a meat alternative to optimize protein intake for muscle gain and muscle maintenance).

If you want to reduce the caloric density, here are a few tips: reduce the olive oil to 2 tablespoons. The olive oil is a must use ingredient in this salad, and extra virgin olive oil is one of the healthy types of fats. Just keep in mind that all fats and oils have 9 calories per gram, or in this case 120 calories per tablespoon. Any olive oil is fine for cooking, but for a salad like this, use the best, highest quality extra virgin olive oil you can.

To keep the calories down you could also use the “Burn the Fat” calorie density reduction trick, which is to decrease the starchy carb portion and increase the fibrous carb portion. For this recipe, that would mean reducing the chickpeas while increasing the bell peppers, maybe bump it up to 3 of them. Increase the onions too, if you’re an onion fan. Another cool option would be to add some cucumber.

By the way, be sure to use fresh parsley – which adds a nice flavor and has almost no calories.

Another tip: In my grocery shopping travels, I looked at more than a half a dozen brands of canned chickpeas. I noticed that the standard can size is 15 oz (or 15.5) and the standard serving size on the label is a half a cup. But what I also noticed is that the calories ranged from 100 to 130 per half cup. I don’t know why, but my guess is different types of chickpeas or perhaps whether there were calories in the liquid.

Eden organics for example, is canned with Kombu seaweed and no salt is added. The label says 130 calories per half cup. Goya brand has only 100 calories. Rienzi (Italy) also only 100 calories. Greenway: 110 calories, Wild Oats: 120 calories. Great Value (Was Mart Brand): Also 120 calories.

Assuming that there’s no monkey business going on with the label claims, this means that an entire 15 oz can could range from 350 calories to 455 calories. Food for thought: If you shop a little, you can find some calorie bargains – eating the same food.

The amount of ingredients listed in the chickpea salad above makes four generous servings with only 341 calories per serving.

If you use canned chickpeas, this takes only minutes to make. You could certainly use dried, uncooked garbanzos, but then your prep time will be much longer with the soaking and cooking. I like it when I can make a nice meal in only 10 minutes, so I used the canned beans.

Just keep an eye on the sodium if that’s a concern for you. Some canned beans have 1000 mg per can. Reduced sodium beans are widely available however. That said, a pinch of salt is a must. It really adds to the flavor and it tastes like something is missing with zero salt.

This recipe gets our highest nutrition grade possible: A+ and it has the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle tested and perfected seal of approval. Enjoy!

Want to see 20 more Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle Recipes For FREE? Download my free e-book, “The 20 Best Fat-Burning, Muscle Building Recipes Of All Time CLICK HERE FOR FREE INSTANT DOWNLOAD

-Tom Venuto,
Author of Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle
Founder of Burn the Fat Inner Circle

tomvenuto-blogAbout Tom Venuto, The No-BS Fat Loss Coach
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilding and fat loss expert. He is also a recipe creator specializing in fat-burning, muscle-building cooking. Tom is a former competitive bodybuilder and today works as a full-time fitness coach, writer, blogger, and author. In his spare time, he is an avid outdoor enthusiast and backpacker. His book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle is an international bestseller, first as an ebook and now as a hardcover and audiobook. The Body Fat Solution, Tom’s book about emotional eating and long-term weight maintenance, was an Oprah Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine pick. Tom is also the founder of Burn The Fat Inner Circle – a fitness support community with over 52,000 members worldwide since 2006. Click here for membership details

chickpea and bell pepper salad

Cool Chickpea Salad With Bell Peppers

Perfect served chilled for lunch or dinner on a hot summer day. Recipe from Tom Venuto's Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle blog (www.BurnTheFatBlog.com)
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Course: dinner, lunch, Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chickpeas, garbanzo beans, salad, salads, summer salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 878 g chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (two 15-oz cans)
  • 160 g chopped onion (5.6 oz / about 1 cup)
  • 164 g red bell pepper (1 large)
  • 164 g yellow bell pepper (1 large)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 Tbsp high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)


  • Open the two cans of chickpeas, drain or rinse, then add to a large mixing bowl or salad bowl
  • Finely dice the onion, chop the parsley, and add to bowl
  • chop red and yellow bell peppers into small squares and add to bowl (optional: add a 3rd bell pepper or use 1.5 of each)
  • Add 3 tablespoons of lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Add salt and then mix all the ingredients together
  • Serve immediately at room temperature, or refrigerate for at least an hour and serve chilled
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