Saturday, 8 May 2010

A New Look at Hummus

I'd never been interested in, nor enjoyed, dips whether for fruits, vegetables, chips, or anything else people dip, until I tried hummus. 
Hummus originates from the middle east and is traditionally a mix of cooked, mashed chickpeas, blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. 
The main ingredients, chickpeas, are also known as garbanzo beans. Chickpeas are low fat, high protein and fiber. They also have lots of zinc and other good nutrients.
Usually we purchase hummus ready made at the grocery store, and usually I end up dipping low fat tortilla chips, pita chips, or pita slices in the hummus. 
In my quest to lose some weight and be healthier I've been changing my eating habits. Hummus is still good for me in terms of content, and as long as I remember everything in moderation. 
I've also decided to have less carbs and have switched the chips for carrots, snap peas, cucumber slices, etc. A pretty obvious move for most, but since I've never been a 'big dipper' it wasn't a logical leap for me. 
Recently, I had an avocado that needed to be used, but a strong urge for hummus. I made a compromise. Soon the avocado was smashed into the hummus. I set aside some for my husband and then I pulled out some veggies to dip. Avocados are also a high source of protein, and their fats are the healthy mono-unsaturated type. 
This weekend, while doing some work at home I got hungry and decided to actually make the hummus.
The following recipe is adapted from one I found online. It didn't call for tahini (sesame seed paste), which I really wanted to include. I also smashed in an avocado. I put a quarter of it into a small bowl, dipped some veggies, and put the rest in the fridge.  It is supposed to stay good in the fridge for up to 3 days, or can be frozen. We'll use it up sooner, because I'm not sure how long the avocado will last.
  • 1 can (15oz/540ml) garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained 
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1½ Tbsp of Tahini
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ripe avocado (optional)
  • 1 - 2 Tbsp of water
  • salt, pepper, and cumin to taste
Place all of the ingredients into a food processor. Mix it until it is creamy and smooth.
* I reserved some of the lemon juice and water, then added it according to taste and to thin out the paste.
* I also prefer cooked garlic, to raw, so I crushed the garlic and put it in a small dish with the olive oil. I microwaved it for about 30 seconds, to sweeten it up. Then I added it to the processor ingredients. 
You can also make hummus without the tahini. You use more olive oil. The recipe I found suggested 1/4 of a cup. That seems like a lot, to me, so I think I would probably add only a bit at a time until I get the texture I want.
Some recipes I've found also suggest that when serving humus you can dish it into a bowl and then make a small well in the middle of the hummus. In the well you put a tablespoon or two of olive oil. Then you can garnish it with parsley. I think I would just use the garnish and not add more oil, even if it is a healthy one.
As I mentioned above, most people dip pita chips or slices in their hummus. If you want to do that, you can warm your pita slices, first. 
Other options:
  • Add a bit of cayenne pepper, finely chopped roasted or raw red pepper, or other spicy tasting roasted vegetables.
I recognize that hummus isn't the first thing people might choose when they are trying to lose weight, but it is healthy and a little bit goes a long way to filling you up. Hummus with avocado has double the protein and filling fiber. 

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