From Skeptics to Fans: Introducing WIC Clients to Chickpeas


While planning a special WIC class for my community, I decided to present a food demo. But what would I demonstrate? The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ total diet approach to healthy eating recognizes that factors including taste, time, convenience and food cost influence food choices. Major brands consider these factors when they develop products, and I did the same when choosing a recipe to “sell” my clients.

I settled on a Lemony Chickpea Salad recipe. In order to appreciate the dish, my clients would have to sample an unfamiliar food: chickpeas. Unless they dine at the local pita restaurant, many Americans seldom encounter these legumes. As if to confirm that thought, one client reacted to my introductory remarks by skeptically asking, “What is a chickpea?”

Chewy, nutty chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are popular in many cultures. Ethiopians add them to stews, Indians curry them, and Lebanese mash them into hummus. My clients, after tasting the chickpeas dressed with lemon, garlic and parsley, have become enthusiastic fans as well.

This recipe uses only five additional ingredients, most of which are available through WIC. Cost per serving is less than 70 cents,  and those who can’t afford to waste food will find that the ingredients keep well in the pantry or refrigerator.

The response from those who attended my demonstration? “I’m gonna make this.” They know that they can easily pull this together and pair it with a sandwich and fruit for a quick midweek meal. The salad contributes protein, iron and folate, and its fiber content provides satiety. This recipe works for people who eat vegetarian, flexitarian, paleo and gluten-free. Clients who wish to plant some seeds can produce their own home-grown parsley or cilantro to enhance the dish.

How do you convert skeptics to fans with regard to a new, unfamiliar food?  Consider what we love about our favorite foods. Make sure your idea is easy, affordable, tasty and accessible. A food demo allows clients to see and sample the product, and might be just the vehicle to take them from “not interested” to “I can do this!” From Skeptics to Fans: Introducing WIC Clients to Chickpeas - Food demo

Lemony Chickpea Salad

Serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 small minced garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 15-ounce can rinsed and drained chickpeas


In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, garlic and parsley. Add chickpeas, toss to coat in dressing, cover and allow to marinate for about 30 minutes at room temperature. Serve and enjoy!

Linda Rusenovich
Linda Rusenovich, RD, LDN, works with WIC participants at the Well Child Center in Elgin, IL. Contact her on LinkedIn.