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Hummus – Beyond the Bean

Who doesn’t love hummus? This creamy blend of garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas), lemon, olive oil, garlic, and tahini is at least half of the reason why we’ve started our love affair with Middle Eastern food.

Interesting enough, hummisyas are a unifying food language that represents individual cultures all over the middle east. How much healthier do you think we would be if our identifying food cultures were of the chickpea persuasion instead of the pizza and burger one?!

Whether served as a spread for my favorite spirulina wrap or in the mix of my grass-fed burgers, hummus is delicious, versatile, and as good for your foodie friends as it is your good health.

Benefits of eating hummus:

  • Good source of plant-based iron with about 25% of the recommended daily value per cup
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Beneficial to hair, skin, and nails
  • Time released energy that won’t spike blood sugar levels
  • Reduces cancer risk
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Facilitates weight management

5 tips for delicious hummus:

  1. Don’t worry about overcooking – Cooking the chickpeas until they’ve reached “mushy” status actually makes for a creamier texture and smoother hummus. In this case, overcooking isn’t a bad thing. Let the beans cook until they are practically falling apart. I always recommend soaking beans overnight, this not only aids digestion but also helps them to cook evenly.
  2. The baking soda secret – Adding baking soda to your boiling beans tenderizes the skin and the bean. The addition of baking soda increases the volume of the chickpeas and adds to a fuller and silkier texture.
  3. You don’t have to peel your skins – Some recipes call for you to pinch off the skins of the cooked chickpeas, but if you cook long enough this is not necessary. In traditional methods, beans were cooked in clay pots for up to 12 hours, the skin would cook right off and float to the tops of the pots. If you can skim the skins off the top of your pot and cook long enough, you shouldn’t notice too much of a difference whether you peel or not. However, for the perfectionist, filtering your hummus through a screen will ensure the smoothest texture.
  4. Use your tahini with caution – This delightful sesame seed paste is essential for classic hummus, but using too much changes the consistency from smooth and creamy and thick and pasty. Just the right amount helps you achieve that signature texture and lightness. Adjust your recipes for your taste, but stick with the recommended amount of tahini.
  5. Create your own hummus traditions – Chickpeas are the canvas for many flavor and ingredients combinations. The hummus base takes on flavors very well, without overpowering. Very little is off limits when it comes to variations and I’m sharing a few of my favorite hummus recipes below.

Beyond the bowl, resourceful ways to take hummus far beyond basic:

  • Add a couple spoonfuls of hummus into your grass-fed beef, chicken, or even turkey mix before cooking. This will boost flavor and moistness.
  • Toss a scoop with diced chicken for mayo free chicken salad option
  • Use as the “sauce” for pita pizza, top with fresh cucumber, olive, tomatoes, and feta for a kid friendly after school snack
  • Not so “deviled” eggs are delish, scoop out the yolks and blend smooth with classic hummus in place of mayo and pipe back into the egg
  • Toss over pasta, thin your hummus with a little vegetable or organic chicken stock and toss with quinoa pasta and vegetables for a sauce with a plant protein boost

The Classic Recipe:

1 lb. dried garbanzo beans/chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained

1 T. sea salt

1 tsp. baking soda

½ cup tahini

juice of 2 lemons

1/3 cup organic extra virgin olive oil

4 garlic cloves, mashed

In a 4-quart pot, cover the garbanzo beans with 2 inches of cold water. Stir in the salt and baking soda, then bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the chickpeas are tender, 45 to 50 minutes. Drain the beans, reserving 2 tablespoons of the liquid.

Transfer the cooked beans to the bowl of a food processor. Add the reserved cooking liquid, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Purée until smooth, then season with salt and pepper.

Avocado Hummus:

1 cup of classic hummus (recipe above)

1 avocado, peeled and pitted

1 T. harissa seasoning

additional sea salt to taste

Puree until smooth, season with additional drizzle of olive oil and harissa.

Roasted Bell Pepper Hummus:

1 whole roasted red bell pepper

1 tsp. harissa

1 T. sweet paprika

¼ cup organic extra virgin olive oil

pinch of sea salt

1 cup classic hummus (recipe above)

Puree first 5 ingredients until smooth, spoon into cup of classic hummus.

Carrot and Citrus Hummus:

1 cup classic hummus (recipe above)

2 carrots, grated

½ cup olive oil

juice of 1 orange

Puree until smooth, season with additional drizzle of olive oil and harissa.

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