Friday, July 31, 2009

Be Well @ Stanford

Hummus: Helps Decrease Hunger Grumbles
July 31, 2009
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I was scanning the hummus aisle at my local Stop 'n Shop yesterday only to find that my favorite brand, Sabra, was unfortunately not in stock. This inspired me to write today's post about hummus. Many times I've recommended hummus to clients as a great-tasting, healthy "spread". Some would ask: "What's hummus?" or "Isn't that fattening?"

Hummus is a Mediterranean spread commonly made from a chickpea (garbanzo bean) and tahini (ground sesame) base mixed with olive, soybean or canola oil to form a creamy paste. It can be plain or flavored with spices, veggies, nuts and more. On average, one serving (2 tablespoons) of hummus provides approximately 50-60 calories, 2-5g of fat (most is heart-healthy
unsaturated fat), 3-5g carbs, 1g fiber and 1g protein. The combination of carbohydrates and protein from the chick peas plus healthy fat from canola or olive oil will keep you full longer.

Some think hummus is "fattening" because if you dip endlessly into it, the fat grams can add up. As with anything, you should watch your portion size. When thinking of fat grams, keep in mind that the unsaturated fat in hummus makes it a great dip or spread alternative to higher saturated fat alternatives including mayonnaise, sour cream and cream cheese-based dips.

Hummus is usually found near the produce or deli aisles in refrigerated shelving at most grocery stores. There are many brands available on the market including: Athenos, Cedar's, Trader Joe's, and other store brands.

As I mentioned above, Sabra brand hummus is my personal favorite. I discovered Sabra one year ago and never turned back! Some hummus brands taste too pasty and lack zesty flavor. Sabra hummus is creamy and smooth. The flavored versions include roasted red pepper, Greek olive, peppadew, jalapeno, hummus with roasted pine nuts, and my very personal fave,
supremely spicy. Using the roasted red pepper as an example, when you open the lid, there are bits of roasted red pepper atop the creamy hummus. All you need to do is mix the red pepper in and your in business.

I've found some great ways to enjoy this gourmet-tasting spread:
  • Spread on crackers
  • Use as a dip with veggies or pita pieces
  • Make egg salad with 1-2 tablespoons of hummus rather than using mayonnaise
  • Take hard-cooked eggs, pop out the yolks, and add hummus into the whites for a snack or creative party appetizer
  • Add in a wrap as a base to any sandwich
  • Spread lemon-flavored hummus on white fish such as flounder or tilapia and bake
If you're not in a time crunch and feel like making your own, even better! There are tons of hummus recipes available on recipe websites and in cookbooks. But don't feel guilty if you opt for store-bought hummus. Especially in the case of Sabra, the ingredients are few and mostly natural. This is NOT a product with 15+ unidentifiable ingredients lurking in a forever-shelf-stable food item. Most store bought hummus must be refrigerated and should be used within 1-3 months, depending on the use-by date.

If you haven't tried it already, spread some today. I bet you'll love it!

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