God, I love hummus. Hummus has made a regular appearance in my life ever since my childhood in Nigeria, where my parents would serve it up for dinner parties. I remember it like it was yesterday; the silkiness of the chickpeas blended with tahini and garlic, the shallow grooves showcasing green ripples of olive oil, and the fiery red scotch-bonnet pepper chutney invariably placed in the middle – like a taunt or a dare. Hummus was a starter at these parties; accompanied by baba ghanoush, pita bread, pickled red onions and feta.
I began my own experimenting with hummus only about six years ago. Too lazy to clean my old-school blender, I turned to my faithful hand-held chopper; the type you’d use to chop up veggies in a hurry. And it worked. I successfully made hummus with chickpeas, then black beans, then kidney beans, then roasted eggplant and by then it was too late. The hummus monster had descended upon our household. Today, there’s rarely a week that will go by without some form of hummus in the fridge.
As is apparent from my description above, I tend to use the word ‘hummus’ loosely (sorry purists!). Unless it is baba ghaanoush (roasted eggplant blended with tahini, garlic and lemon), anything else that gets blended up with tahini, garlic and lemon is a hummus in my book.
So here it is: my basic hummus recipe. Feel free to improvise with the ingredients and make it your own. For variety, you can replace the chickpeas with any roasted vegetable. My favorites are eggplant, sweet potato, pumpkin and beetroot.
You can serve hummus as a starter with raw crunchy vegetables (bell peppers, celery, carrots, cucumber, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, radishes…..) and whole wheat pita bread; or as a spread on your sandwich or wrap. Or, just go for it and eat it plain with a spoon!
Chickpeas or garbanzo beans – Chickpeas have an excellent balance of protein and fiber (14 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber in 1 cup of cooked chickpeas) which makes it a great choice for blood sugar regulation. This is because protein and fiber can help slow down the pace of carb digestion, helping steady the sugar release and absorption in your body. They also contain vitamin C & E, which are antioxidants involved in energy production, as well as cholesterol lowering properties (1).
Tahini – is a paste made from sesame seeds, and is usually found in Middle-eastern foods. It is also called sesame butter. Sesame seeds are extremely nutritious and contain high amounts of copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, selenium and dietary fiber (4). They also have a high protein and good fat content (2), and this combined with its fiber make it ideal for blood sugar regulation.
Extra virgin olive oil – EVOO is the highest-grade olive oil, which means that it’s the result of the first crushing and pressing of olives (2) and is therefore the least processed variety. It is also often the most flavorful, and susceptible to damage from heat. Olive oil contains wonderful health benefits. It has monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, thereby lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. It also contains polyphenols that help lower inflammatory markers in the blood (3). In addition, using olive oil seems to regulate blood sugar and lower triglyceride levels (2) as well as reduce the risk of heart disease.
Basic Hummus Recipe
- 15 oz. cooked chickpeas (1 can, rinsed and drained)
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- 1-2 tbsp. tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
- 2-3 tbsp. olive oil extra virgin
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- Place garlic in a food processor, hand blender or good ol’ fashioned mortar & pestle; process, chop or beat until finely minced. Add olive oil, tahini and salt, and process.
- If you want to keep the hummus a little chunky, reserve 1-2 tablespoons of the chickpeas for later. Add the remaining chickpeas, lemon juice, cumin and paprika (if using) to the food processor and continue to pulse until smooth.
- If the mixture is too thick, you can add a couple teaspoons of water to thin it out.
- Spoon mixture into a medium bowl, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and chili flakes.
- Serve with celery sticks, sliced bell peppers, zucchini, carrot sticks or broccoli.
(1) Garbanzo Beans (n.d). In the World’s Healthiest Foods Website. Retrieved from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=58
(2) Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.
(3) Olive oil, extra virgin (n.d). In the World’s Healthiest Foods Website. Retrieved from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=132
(4) Sesame seeds (n.d). In the World’s Healthiest Foods Website. Retrieved from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=84