I know the title of this article might make it seem like I’m crazy for chickpeas, but if you’ve ever watched Friends, you’ll remember the episode where George Clooney appears as a handsome nurse. Monica and Rachel are invited back to his place for what becomes a very awkward date, and hence Clooney tries to make conversation with the classic conversation starter: “God bless the chickpea”. Sounds weird, but to be honest, preach George Clooney. If only he knew about Biena Snacks.

The Company:

Chickpeas have recently become in vogue because of their high fiber and potassium content, as well as their versatility. A trend that has emerged from their new-found popularity is roasted chickpeas, almost like a chickpea chip. One of the companies at the forefront of this trend is Biena Snacks. Biena was founded by Poorvi Patodia in 2012 when she was trying to find a healthy snack to satisfy her pregnancy cravings. Poorvi developed a recipe to create light, crispy roasted chickpeas based off of childhood memories. Biena aims to improve the nutrition level of how Americans snack.

Biena Snacks offers eight Classic Roasted Chickpeas flavors and four Chocolate-Covered Chickpeas flavors (I know, chocolate covered chickpeas? Sounds whack, but trust me it’s delicious). I was able to try four of the classic flavors, Sea Salt, Honey Roasted, Cinnamon Crunch, and Sour Cream & Onion, and two of the chocolate-covered flavors, Dark Chocolate and Girl Scouts Thin Mints.

The Flavors:

The Sea Salt flavor is a perfect crunchy snack if you’re in the mood for something salty. They distinctly reminded me of the pumpkin seeds that I would roast myself after carving a pumpkin for Halloween.

If you’re in the mood for something sweet, the Honey Roasted is the way to go. It was like you were eating candy, but in reality, you were actually eating a healthy legumes. Biena was not skimpy with the honey coating, and I appreciate that.

Cinnamon Crunch is packed with cinnamon flavor, so if your favorite childhood cereal (or let’s be honest, your current favorite cereal) was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, this variety is for you. One downside was that the cinnamon sugar coating was so dense that it made your mouth feel a bit dry.

Sour Cream & Onion was the GOAT. It tasted just like your favorite sour cream & onion potato chip, but instead of consuming tons of salt and oil, you are getting protein, fiber, and less fat.

Now the chocolate flavors. I was VERY hesitant about the Thin Mints flavor, but when I popped a little chickpea into my mouth I was pleasantly surprised to find that it tasted exactly like what you would expect: a Girl Scouts Thin Mint. It was like eating a healthy cookie made from a bean!

The Dark Chocolate was also delicious, and I would highly recommend for any sweet tooths out there who are not fans of mint flavor.


I also was able to ask the founder, Poorvi, a couple of questions. Below are her responses:

AW: How many trial recipes did you have to go through to get the perfect crispy chickpea?

Poorvi: Hundreds! It took so many trials to get the perfect roasting process down and flavors finalized. Flavor and texture are very important to me, and I wanted to make sure we were creating the best product we could. I spent a lot of time experimenting in my own kitchen before bringing in a bigger team to help. Today, I’m still very involved in the product innovation process. Since we launched in 2012, we’ve received overwhelmingly positive responses to our flavor profiles, ingredients, and nutritional benefits, which has given us the opportunity to create new flavors almost every year. This past summer, we launched Girl Scout Cookie™-Inspired Thin Mints™, and we have some new developments in the pipeline right now. Stay tuned for more there!

AW: How do you feel about your company now that chickpea snacks are such a big trend, and you were there before the craze?

Poorvi: When I was pregnant with my first child, I was looking for a healthier snack that would satisfy my cravings, and started experimenting with chickpeas in my own kitchen. At the time (2012), there weren’t any other roasted chickpea snacks on the market and the trend of eating plant-based protein was in its infancy, but people were beginning to be a lot more conscious of the things they ate. I could see that my chickpeas would be a perfect, satisfying substitution for unhealthy chips and since that time, better-for-you snacks and chickpeas in particular have grown exponentially. I’m proud that we’ve helped pave the way for other chickpea-based products. It’s exciting that chickpeas are becoming a mainstream staple, and we love seeing all the new innovations in the space.

AW: What flavors do you still want to create?                       Poorvi: We value our community above all else, so we’re committed to staying on-trend and listening to what our consumers want to try. When a great idea strikes, like last year’s Girl Scout Cookie™-Inspired Thin Mints™ flavor, we go in head first.

AW: Would you consider branching into other snacks?

Poorvi: Absolutely! Chickpeas continue to emerge as a leader in both the plant-based protein and healthy snacking trends, and we don’t see that slowing down anytime soon. Our team is always exploring where we’ll head next, and experimenting with different flavor profiles and products. We hold ourselves to what we call the 3 Standards of Goodness – delicious, nutritious and clean ingredients. It’s very hard to create snacks that meet all three, but that’s how food should be! Snackers can continue to rely on Biena to deliver on all three.

AW: How has the development of your company in the past 6 years been different from what you expected?

Poorvi: Turning a food startup into a successful brand is an unpredictable journey. I’m proud of all of our team’s accomplishments and successes. Something I didn’t anticipate playing such a big role in the success of the brand is the incredible support I’ve received from others in the food industry. Biena wouldn’t be where it is today without the wisdom and guidance of leaders in the industry, who took my calls and offered their tips, time and contacts along the way. Now that I’m on the other side of the equation–the one meeting with those who just took the leap of faith–it’s so invigorating to see their energy and passion. The pay-it-forward mentality in the snack food industry is unmatched and incredibly supportive for someone just starting out. It may be scary to pick up that phone, but trust me, it’s worth it.

AW: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs in the food industry?

Poorvi: Related to the above, find people who are supportive and don’t be afraid to ask for help. The food industry has excellent camaraderie. Another important thing is to sketch out what you want for yourself and your company in each phase of your career and stay focused on that. It’s easy for life to get in the way of things, but if you stay true to your plan and continue to pursue your goal, it becomes easier to prioritize your growing career.

Biena Snacks is clearly killing the chickpea game. To add on top of their already amazing repertoire, in April, Biena is releasing Baked Chickpea Puffs in 3 Flavors: Aged White Cheddar, Vegan Ranch, and Blazin' Hot. The chickpea puffs are made of chickpeas and lentils, have 7 grams of plant protein, and offer up to 40% fewer carbs than other leading puffed snacks per serving. Not only are they healthy and delicious, but also they use no artificial coloring. Already excited for these puffs? You can preorder them on the Biena site.

Chickpeas are healthy with their fiber and vitamin C and B6 content. They also are filling with their high fiber content. Biena Snacks makes chickpeas an easy, portable snack that can satisfy a salty or sweet craving. Trust me, if you go out and buy some Biena chickpeas, you’ll be saying “God bless the chickpea” too.