Spiced Chickpeas & Sweet Potatoes with Brown Rice


Borrowed with gratitude from the official Blue Zones website: www.bluezones.com

Forget boring meat and potatoes – tonight it’s all about beans and sweet potatoes! Sweet potato is one of the foundational foods for centenarians in Okinawa and it is a great fuel food with its combination of simple and complex carbohydrates. When combined with kale in this recipe, it’ll give you a whopping dose of Vitamin A. Chickpeas and brown rice pack this dish with filling fibre and protein, while the simple seasoning mix of ginger, garlic, cumin, cinnamon and turmeric will take your tastebuds on a multi-layered trip.

Recipe from the Blue Zones Meal Planner.

Yield: 2 servings


  • 1½ cups frozen brown rice
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 1 can no-salt canned chickpeas
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsps cumin
  • 4 cups baby kale
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Salt & pepper, to taste (optional)*


  1. Reheat the frozen brown rice according to the directions on the package.
  2. Produce Prep: Wash and chop the sweet potatoes (see step #3 for sweet potato preparation options). Peel and mince the garlic and fresh ginger. Rinse and drain the canned chickpeas.
  3. The sweet potatoes can be prepared two ways. If you have extra time, you can bake them in the oven. Cut the sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch-wide round medallions and bake them at 400 for 25-30 minutes, flipping at around 15 minutes. If you’re looking for an option that takes less than 10 minutes, you’ll be preparing mashed sweet potatoes in the microwave. Poke holes all over the sweet potato with a fork. Microwave for about 5-9 minutes or until soft throughout. (Larger sweet potatoes may take up to twice as long to cook.) Once cooked, mash the sweet potatoes with a fork.
  4. In a saucepan, heat the beans on medium heat with the cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, garlic, fresh ginger and a few tablespoons of water until the beans are warm and soft.
  5. Add the baby kale (or any other leafy greens) to the pan, and put the lid on to lightly steam the baby kale leaves. The baby kale is done when the leaves are limp (at about 3 minutes). Stir occasionally. Mash the sweet potatoes in a bowl. Add them to the beans and baby kale mix.
  6. To plate, top the brown rice with the veggie and chickpea mixture. Season to taste.
  7. Kid-Friendly Tip: This recipe is pretty heavy on the spices. Just enjoying beans, baby kale, and sweet potatoes with light seasoning is probably the most successful way to make sure your “small appetite” loves this meal!

*Notes: Black pepper in combination with turmeric improves the bioavailability of the antioxidant curcumin. 

The stock and variety of spices at different grocery stores can vary – a lot. If you’re missing a spice for this recipe, try playing test kitchen! Add more of the other spices and taste test until it’s just right for you. No baby kale? Any leafy green will do here. In Ikaria, there are over 150 varieties of wild greens including purslane, dandelion, and arugula. These rich, dark, wild mountain greens are a great source of minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. 

Using ground ginger instead of fresh? Just divide the fresh ginger measurement by 4 to get the measurement you need (i.e., 1 teaspoon fresh ginger = 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger).