Which Came First the Chick or the Pea?

August 18, 2010 in Blog Recipes, Diabetic Menu Item, Mediterranean by Joyce Bunderson

As I mentioned in the August 13, 2010 post, hummus is one of the easiest and most successful ways I have found to get more beans into our diet. I know also that many of you are probably eating more hummus; as evidenced by the hummus turnover at the stores. This growing hummus intake is a happy thought for a public health nutritionist, because it’s moving us all a bit closer to a Mediterranean-style of eating – and that’s great!

If you’d like to learn about chickpeas (garbanzo beans), the most common bean used in hummus, look under cultivation and use in an interesting and informative article about chickpeas. From flour to alcohol, chickpeas are involved in the cuisine of many countries and different styles of eating. India grows the most, almost 6 million tons a year – that’s a lot of beans!

Some of the countries of the Middle East, namely, Lebanon and Israel are in a somewhat peaceful battle over who originated the recipe for hummus. Chickpeas, India pea, ceci bean, Bengal Gram or garbanzo beans as they are often called in the United States, have been cultivated for about 7,500 years in the Middle East. You know how often the borders have changed in those years? Oh my goodness! But who cares where it began; it tastes great and is good for you too.

In the Middle East and some places in the Mediterranean, eating warm hummus and pita bread is a common meal. You’re set, if you can find the whole-wheat pita; if not, maybe whole-wheat flat bread or tortillas.  Don’t counteract the health benefits of hummus by wrapping in it refined white flour products if you can help it – and at home, you can.

Hummus Recipes – Be Creative

I think there may be as many variations of hummus as there are cooks that prepare it. It lends itself so well to variation; and they all seem to be delicious. I especially enjoy recipes that are posted as the Real or Authentic Hummus. It’s fun for me to learn about origins, but as far as I know, my ancestors had absolutely no part in the beginnings of hummus. I originally posted my recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, a year or so ago; it's one of our frequent favorites. Other variations include:

  • Add a little orange marmalade or orange zest and sweetener to your hummus recipe for a delicious taste.
  • Replace the tahini with Greek yogurt.
  • Add a diced fresh tomato or two, to your hummus recipe.
  • Add a diced chili to make it hot and spicy.
  • Add two cups of fresh washed spinach into your food processor or blender with 2 or 3 cups of hummus and process. Spinach hummus is now popular in the grocery stores, but you can make it yourself.
  • Toasted pine nuts are a tasty addition.
  • Add ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes to the hummus recipe.
  • Mix a little spicy salsa into standard hummus, a nice spicy addition to your dip, dressing or sandwich spread repertoire.
  • Add Parmesan cheese and basil to hummus recipe.
  • Add canned pureed pumpkin to hummus recipe; some recipes even use pumpkin instead of the beans.  Add a little red pepper flakes, garlic, and parsley.
  • Green Pea Hummus –  If you’re making hummus from scratch use ½ garbanzo beans and ½ defrosted or fresh steamed green peas, with your favorite hummus ingredients.
  • Avocado Hummus - 2 cups cubed avocado added to 15 oz. garbanzo bean recipe.
  • Tahini-free Hummus
  • Fresh Basil Hummus

Taking the dip

  • If you’re steering away from fatty chips, instead of chips why not try hummus as a dip with cherry or grape tomatoes; broccoli and cauliflower florets; cucumber or summer squash (patty pan, yellow, or zucchini squash) sticks or circles; snap peas; carrot, jicama or celery sticks; red, orange, yellow or green bell peppers; cucumber circles; mushrooms; and baby radishes or slices.
  • Serve with toasted whole-wheat pita thins (cut pita bread into wedges and broil.)

Hummus – Not Just a Dip

  • Hummus instead of cream cheese on a whole-wheat bagel.
  • Slather hummus on flat bread, tortillas or regular bread – great for holding the  roll-up together.
  • Instead of a health negative (fatty mayo) for sandwich spread and salad dressing use hummus.
  • Have you tried the whole grain sandwich thins (100 calories for both top and bottom), spread with hummus, and layered with lettuce, tomato, pickles or cucumbers, and veggie burgers? They look like hamburgers, but I’d have to name them Mediterranean burgers. Hopefully, ‘burger’ is not too disparaging a term for these delicious healthy sandwiches.
  • Sandwich or roll-up with both shredded chicken or tuna and hummus.
  • Grilled Hummus Sandwich

Try some of the suggestions above and enjoy!  If you discover some good combinations, please share by commenting.