Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hummus: A New World of Flavor!

So, I've always wondered how people could be vegetarian. A little... Hmmm.... intolerant of me, right? I mean, I can only eat whole beans so often, and refried beans, while a staple in my home, don't really appeal to me. And, tofu? Well, enough said.

Anyway, friends have been telling me about hummus for a couple of years. I've been curious for some time, but wasn't sure if I'd like it. For those of you who don't know, hummus is the middle eastern version of refried beans, without the refried part. Fundamentally, hummus contains chickpeas (garbanzo beans), tahini (a paste of ground sesame seeds), olive oil, lemon or lime juice, garlic, and salt. You can add other things to add flavor (roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes, etc.). Throw all those things in a food processor and give it a whirl until smooth. It can be used as a dip with veggies or flatbread or as a spread on a sandwich. I am certain there are more uses, but I am relatively new to hummus, so feel free to chime it in the comments section with your favorite way to eat hummus.

So, on Monday, upon strong urging from my friend Alise, I decide to try to make hummus for the first time. Alas, I have no pictures, and I'll admit that it wasn't great. A little too much roasted red peppers, too little olive oil, not the right combo of seasonings... I stuck it in a bowl in the fridge thinking it might get eaten (Oscar will eat almost anything), or it would get tossed at the end of the week. On Tuesday, I pulled it out again, just to see if I had been wrong on Monday. You know, maybe my tastebuds were broken or something. Well, apparently the flavors married overnight and, combined with the crunch of the baby carrot I dipped into it, was DELICIOUS!!! OMG! I sat down with a bag of baby carrots and the bowl of hummus and ate HALF OF IT! Yikes! The rest was gone by Wednesday. Even the dog likes it. I left the bowl sitting on the couch for 10 seconds to answer the phone and the dog jumped up and licked the last few bites from the bowl! Let me just say, I was a bit pissed! LOL!

This morning I decided to make a new batch. The first batch had cilantro in it, but I used the last of my cilantro in the salsa I made last night, so I threw a couple of florets of brocolli into this batch, along with lime juice and roasted red peppers. Yum... OH, YUM!  Then I spied the squash I purchased earlier this week sitting out on the counter and was INSPIRED!  I sliced up the squash and tossed it in the skillet with some olive oil until slightly soft and toasted. I then toasted some multigrain sandwich thins and smeared both of them with hummus and slapped the sliced squash in the middle. Oh. My. Goodness! Heaven. I have a new favorite food, and it is healthy! Here are some pics.

So, with regards to the healthy qualities of hummus.

High in fiber
High in healthy oils
High in protein
Can include veggies (like brocolli) to make it even healthier

FYI: This is not a low fat food. Both tahini and olive oil are both high in fat, but as mentioned before, they are healthy fats.

Here is the nutritional info for "generic" hummus.

The lesson here is try something new and ENJOY!