Monday, May 14, 2012

Hummus: Spinach and White Bean

This traditional Middle Eastern dish has made quite an impact on American cuisine and is now a popular food item in grocery stores and restaurants today. There are plenty of different flavors to suit your palate and hundreds of different brands on the market. But beware even this healthy food can be made into an unhealthy, heat-damaging food if the wrong ingredients are used. So what makes up the traditional hummus that is both delicious and healthy?

The traditional hummus was always made with these main staples; chickpeas, extra virgin olive oil, tahini, lemon and garlic. Tahini is a paste made out of hulled sesame seeds containing plentiful amino acids, vitamins and minerals. The combination of legumes, seeds, heart-healthy fresh pressed oil and spices makes up the most creamy, satisfying and nutrient dense food. This perfect blend of whole foods is wonderful used as a dip, spread, or paste. Use in place of mayo on sandwiches or serve as an appetizer with vegetables and whole grain crackers.

The once healthy dip has of course been tainted by the American food system. Extra virgin olive oil has been replaced with canola, soybean or other highly processed and inflammatory oils. Refined salt takes the place of mineral rich sea salt and often refined sugars are added. Some hummus brands boast about being 'low fat'. One of the reasons hummus is so healthy in the first place is because of the heart-healthy fats from extra virgin olive oil! Don't be deceived by the very label 'Hummus' slabbed on every 8oz tub in the grocery store. Read the ingredients and buy an honest product that is made with high quality foods. Better yet, try this recipe and make your own! Get creative like this one and try different beans or flavor with vegetables and spics. Perfect for kids because you can sneak in extra vegetables like dark leafy greens!

 The Recipe
2C white cannellini beans, soaked, drained, cooked and rinsed
3 cloves garlic
1 small onion
1/2t cumin
1/8t chili flakes
1 1/2 C spinach
1C beet greens
1/3C roasted tahini
1/2C extra virgin olive oil
1/4C lemon juice
2T lime juice
sea salt
freshly cracked black pepper

1. Soak white beans covered in filtered water overnight. Drain and cook in fresh water until soft. Remove from heat, strain the beans and set aside.
2. Dice onion and heat in 1-2T olive oil on LOW heat. Saute until soft and translucent. Add garlic, cumin and chili flakes.
3. After another minute of cooking add spinach and chopped beet greens. Gently fold with the onions until lightly wilted.
4. In a food processor blend beans, olive oil and tahini.
5. Slowly add in the onions and greens, continue blending until smooth. Adding lemon and lime, salt and pepper gradually until it reaches your desired taste.

Enjoy with veggie sticks like carrots, celery, cucumbers or bell peppers. And of course everyone loves a delicious cracker. My favorite crackers are Mary's Gone Crackers that come in Original, Caraway, Onion, Herb and Black Pepper. Made with organic whole grains, flax and sesame seeds, sea salt and added spices for flavoring. Completely guilt free and deliciously crunchy! Find them at your local health foods store, Whole Foods and even some Costco's.

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