Thursday, February 23, 2012

0 What is hummus? How healthy is hummus?

Hummus is a Middle Eastern spread made mostly from chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Chickpeas are very high in fiber and protein. They also contain folate, Omega-3's, calcium, iron, zinc and mangnesium. The second major ingredient in hummus is tahini (sesame seed paste) which is also high in protein, fiber, monounsaturated fat, calcium and iron. You'll remember from my previous article that fiber, folate, Omega-3's and calcium all help to lower blood pressure. Also, beans are known to lower cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, and help prevent cancer.

You can eat hummus as a dip for vegetables, use it as a spread on sandwiches, serve it with crackers, pita bread or bruschetta, mix it with salsa for a healthy and spicy bean dip, or add broth (or water) to it and use it as a salad dressing.

It doesn't seem that most pre-made hummus' have too many added ingredients, with the exception of preservatives. But, the cost to make homemade hummus is about half the cost of store bought. So instead of spending about $4 for 7 oz of some name brand, why don't you make your own for only about $3 for 16 oz (using canned - it's even cheaper if you use dried beans!), it's easy and takes less than 5 minutes. When you make your own you can also season it to taste just the way you like it.

This recipe was given to me by an old family friend about 25 years ago. Since then I've modified it just a bit. I don't usually keep tahini on hand and it's quite expensive, but since I do make a lot of asian stir frys I always have sesame oil on hand.  You can use about 2-3 tablespoons of sesame oil in lieu of the tahini in the recipe. Also, he and I really like garlic, so the recipe calls for an entire head of garlic but you can use about 4 cloves or less, if you don't want as much of a garlicky taste.

2 c well cooked garbanzo beans, drained (or 1 - 16 oz can drained)
2 ½ Tbl tahini (or 2-3 Tbl sesame oil)
3 Tbl water
2 Tbl olive oil
2 Tbl lemon juice
1 head of garlic, peeled
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin (or paprika)
¼ tsp black pepper
1/16 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

Combine chickpeas, tahini, water, olive oil, and lemon juice in the bowl of food processor. Process until smooth and creamy. Add garlic, salt, cumin and peppers. Process to blend. Correct seasonings to taste. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready – will store for 5 days. Sprinkle with paprika when serving.

Here's an interesting take on Baba Ghanoush...

Baba Ghanoush
1 lg eggplant
2 c well cooked garbanzo beans, drained (or 1 - 16 oz can, drained)
3 Tbl tahini
¼ lemon juice
¼ olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
½ tsp salt

Slice the eggplant in half, place on baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for 45 minutes until soft. Let cool. Scoop out eggplant and place in a food processor, add remaining ingredients. Process until smooth. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready – will last 5 days.

For a more traditional Baba Ghanoush, just leave out the garbanzo beans.

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