Hummus: A Hot Food Trend and Healthy Too!

Hummus has virtually taken over the “refrigerated flavored spreads” category, which enjoyed sales of more than $300 million in 2009, according to data from Symphony IRI Group, a Chicago-based market research firm.

This traditional Middle Eastern spread is typically made from pureed chickpeas, lemon juice or vinegar, garlic, tahini (sesame seed butter) and olive oil, freely available in any grocery store and in restaurants across many countries.

It's a case of "something old is new again." Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are one of the world's oldest cultivated foods, dating back to the Neolithic period in what is now Sicily, according to The Food Encyclopedia. During the Roman Empire, chickpeas were shipped in jars from Sicily to the rest of Italy. But the Middle Eastern region is thought to have created hummus hundreds of years ago by combining pureed chickpeas with lemon juice or vinegar, tahini (sesame seed butter), garlic, and olive oil. 

This is what you can get as a Hummus fan:

  • Firstly, how Healthy is Hummus?

    Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are rich in fiber and [protein. They also contain vitamins and minerals such as folic acid (chickpeas tend to be higher in folic acid than other beans), zinc, and magnesium.
    Beans in general have been linked to various health benefits, such as lower blood cholesterol. They may also been known to help prevent cancer. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, early lab tests show that three compounds in beans (saponins, protease inhibitors, and phytic acid) may help defend cells from the type of genetic damage that can lead to cancer.
    Hummus also traditionally goes hand-in-hand tahini (sesame seed butter), which adds some additional protein (3 grams per tablespoon) and fiber (0.7 gram per tablespoon) along with monounsaturated fat (3 grams per tablespoon). Chickpeas and tahini also provide fair amounts of calcium and iron.

  • 10 Helpful Hummus Tips

     

    Here are 9 ways to add hummus to your diet:


    1. Hummus serves as a super spread on sandwiches and wraps. Try it instead of mayonnaise. You'll get more flavor with less fat.
    2. Hummus turns into a tasty dressing. Blend some hummus with broth, water, or wine until you get your desired drizzling consistency to make a dressing for cold pasta salads.
    3. Hummus serves as a great dip with raw veggies. Fill a serving bowl with the hummus of your choosing and surround the bowl with assorted raw vegetables such as sugar snap peas, sliced cucumber or zucchini, grape or cherry tomatoes, and broccoli or cauliflower florets.
    4. Hummus + salsa = a spicy dip. Spice up plain hummus by blending in your favorite salsa. With about 20 seconds of mixing, a spicy dip is born.
    5. Hummus is for hamburgers. Use hummus as a spread for veggie, turkey, or beef burgers in place of traditional condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue sauce, or mustard.
    6. Make a better brochette with hummus. For a more satisfying serving of brochette (an Italian appetizer of grilled sliced bread traditionally topped with a mixture of chopped tomato, garlic, olive oil, onion, and basil), top a sliced toasted baguette with some hummus before adding a dollop of the tomato brochette topping.
    7. Serve hummus with whole grains. Hummus works well as an appetizer served with whole grain crackers and crisps. Toasted whole wheat pita pocket crisps or grilled whole grain tortilla triangles are ideal but whole wheat crackers complement the flavor of hummus, too.
    8. Spread hummus instead of cream cheese. Try hummus on your whole grain bagel instead of cream cheese.
    9. Hummus is a favorite with falafel. If you are a fan of falafel (fried or baked crispy balls made with chickpeas, bulgur, and spices), hummus is a nice condiment served as an appetizer or as a filler in a pita sandwich.

     

  • Hummus Recipe: How to Make Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper Hummus

     

    Once the garlic is roasted, you are just three minutes away from a savory homemade hummus. If you want to save some time, roasted garlic can often be purchased at some markets and supermarkets. Serve hummus with toasted whole wheat pita pocket triangles, whole grain crackers, raw vegetables or use hummus as a spread with sandwiches or wraps.


    1 small head of garlic (or 1/2 of a large head)
    1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
    15.5-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
    1/3 cup roasted red pepper (drained well if from jar), firmly packed
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    2 1/2 tablespoons tahini (Tehina)
    1/16th teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
    1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

    Directions:

    1. To roast head of garlic, preheat the oven or toaster oven to 425-degrees. With a serrated knife, cut 1/4-inch off the top of the garlic head. Place head on a sheet of foil then drizzle olive oil over the top. Wrap head in foil well and bake in oven until garlic is golden (about 45-60 minutes). Squeeze garlic cloves out, leaving the skins to discard.

    2. In a food processor bowl, combine roasted garlic cloves, garbanzo beans, roasted red pepper, lemon juice, tahini, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and process until smooth.

    3. Refrigerate hummus in a covered container for up to 1 week.


    Yield: Makes 1 3/4 cup (about 7 servings)
    Nutritional information per 1/4 cup serving of hummus: 124 Calories, 5 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat, 0.6 g saturated fat, 1.7 g monounsaturated fat, 1.7 g polyunsaturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 g fiber, 246 mg (329 mg sodium with the optional salt). Calories from fat: 26%. 0.1g omega-3 fatty acids, 1.6g omega-6 fatty acids.

     


    Bon Appetite!