Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hummus Heaven

I love hummus. I crave it like some crave chocolate cake. When I was pregnant, my favorite meal was a sesame bagel smeared with hummus and topped with a thick slice of tomato.

Hummus is a simple spread made from cooked, mashed chick peas (garbanzo beans), sesame tahini (ground sesame seeds, or sesame butter), lemon, garlic, olive oil, and seasonings. The recipe originated in the Middle East, and sure enough if you visit different ethnic restaurants, each region does something a little differently with their hummus. The quality, type, and proportion of the ingredients yield wildly different results. Vary with herbs like parsley; other beans like black beans; add-ins like roasted red pepper or hot peppers, and the possibilities are endless. Cedars brand used to make a chocolate hummus!

A trip to your local grocery store will reveal no shortage of hummus; there are at least 7 different brands I can think of, with a huge variety of flavors, sizes, and prices. I have sampled many, many types of hummus in my time, but none compare to the one pictured here: it is from my local bagel store, called King of Bagels, at 560 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair. The woman who works there makes the hummus herself, and it's delicious.

Since I love hummus so much, I thought I'd share some favorite ways to use it, and give you my own recipe:

1 can chick peas (drained, liquid reserved)
1/4 cup sesame tahini
3 cloves garlic
juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
fresh parsley
salt, pepper, and cumin to taste (note: you may not need salt because the liquid that the chick peas are canned in is already salted.)

In a blender, puree the drained chick peas and remaining ingredients. Add reserved liquid slowly until desired consistency is reached.

Hummus is good for you too! Of course it is -- it's 100% whole plant foods (plus the olive oil, which you could leave out). It is a good source of iron, calcium, zinc, protein, fiber, and vitamin C. And it has a nice balance of carbs, fat, and protein, making it ideal for stabilizing blood sugars and avoiding that spike that often results from sugary or low-fiber snacks.

Some uses:
  • In a pita with lettuce, tomato, and chopped raw veggies
  • As a mayonnaise or pesto stand-in, on a roasted vegetable sandwich (see my last post!)
  • Thinned out and used as a salad dressing
  • As a dip for raw veggies, chips, pretzels, mini toasts, rice cakes... anything you can dip
  • On a cracker
  • On a slice of bread or bagel, topped with red onion, sprouts, lettuce, tomato...
  • In a wrap with tabouli (another Middle Eastern salad) or falafel
  • As a sauce -- try tossing with piping hot spaghetti and freshly roasted or steamed vegetables
  • As a topper for brown rice or other whole grain
  • Mixed with chopped olives, roasted portabello mushrooms, and roasted red peppers for a chunky side-dish
  • Right off the spoon -- a great pre-workout snack!


thedanmancan said...

I often like to make tofu scramble with tomato, cukes, carrots, vegan cheese slices, etc.

I decided to make a spicy "Mexican" version recently. I added black beans, corn and chipotle pepper hummus from Trader Joe's. It's really good.

The Veg Next Door said...

That is my ultimate favourite way to eat hummus -- on a sesame seed bagel with a tomato slice. Awesome!

I found your blog b/c it was mentioned in VegNews magazine. Love that you're a dietician; it gives credibility to your lifestyle and your blog (you know what you're talking about).

Dina said...

Hey Veg Next Door! I want to contact you directly but I can't find an email for you. Please email me directly from my profile page! Thanks!