Meet Aquafaba, Pinterest’s New Buzzy Ingredient

Photo: Instagram/@silvia_bifaro

Attention: Aquafaba (AKA chickpea water) is officially trending.

The data specialists at Pinterest tell us that aquafaba pinning has spiked 160 percent since January. And #aquafabameringue is the latest Instagram tag gaining traction, starting to rack up as many uses as #aquafaba, which has been used over 1,000 times. It was even served up at chef Dan Barber's New York City restaurant WastED pop-up, and has worked its way into plant-based patisserie chef Silvia Bifaro's recipes.

Aquafaba fans—who aren't all vegans, btw—are into it because it's a clever way to cut back on food waste. Admit it, typically you'd pour that chickpea water down the drain without a second thought. That's what sparked Barber's interest in including aquafaba-based items on the menu of his aforementioned pop-up. But it can easily be used at home, too.

But how exactly do you use it? And does chickpea water actually have any nutrients? Here's what you need to know.

What it works best in

Aquafaba works in literally anything you'd use eggs for—cookies, cakes, macaroons—and even mayo, which is exactly what vegan brand Sir Kensington's used it for its new Fabanaise, launched this month. Data from Pinterest shows the most popular aquafaba recipes are: Vegan Chocolate Chip and PB Mousse, Aquafaba French Toast, Vegan Aquafaba Butter, and Fudgy Aquafaba Brownies, showing that while baked goods are definitely at the top of the trend list, vegans are also turning to aquafaba to incorporate into their much-used staple items.

Photo: Instagram/@sirkengingtons

It's not bad for you, but it isn't the next superfood either

Aquafaba is extremely low in calories (three per tablespoon), and when made from salt-free garbanzo beans it has no sodium—but it doesn't offer much in the way of nutrients and lacks the protein punch omnivores (and veggans!) get from eggs. While one egg packs in six grams of protein (11 percent of what you need for the day), the aquafaba equivalent—three tablespoons—has almost none. To compare, three tablespoons of the chickpeas themselves have seven grams of protein.

Whip it, whip it good

While whipping chickpea water may not seem intuitive, it actually works well enough to create fluffy meringues and mousse. (Who knew, right?) When you whisk it (on high) for about 10 minutes, it starts to bind together—the same way egg whites do—and the goods you're left with are light and airy. If you are using aquafaba to make a meringue or mousse, you should add sugar and vanilla or chocolate flavoring just as you normally would. You will definitely want to sweeten it up or else your dessert will taste more like hummus. (Um, pass.)

Whether you're into this food trend or not, leave it to vegans to find a genius way to use something totally looked over and turn it into the latest craze.

Hunting for vegan recipes? Check out these five, perfect for busy weeknights. And if you're into aquafaba but still want to get your protein in, these 10 high-protein breakfast ideas that don't involve eggs will help you out.

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