Hummus is a delicious snack that is sufficiently satisfying and nutritious. There are many, many variations of hummus and this particular combination is my favourite…for now. I have added roasted garlic and sun-dried tomatoes which are certainly not traditional ingredients but taste delicious nonetheless. It’s easy to prepare and lasts for a few days in the refrigerator.
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1 19oz liq can chickpeas
- 3 tbsp tahini
- 2 sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 lemon
- 7 green olives
- salt & pepper
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 1/2-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
- To roast the garlic first cut the tips off of the garlic ends. Wrap in aluminum foil with a little olive oil and place in the oven for approximately 40 minutes. Remove the skins after roasting.
- In a blender, combine roasted garlic, rinsed and drained chickpeas, tahini, juice of one lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, green olives, salt, pepper and paprika.
- While blending, slowly add the olive oil until your desired consistency.
- Add a handful of washed parsley and blend for another minute.
Tahini is a main ingredient in all hummus recipes and adds a nutty taste and smooth texture. This paste is made from ground sesame seeds and is considered to be one of the oldest condiments (Anilakumar, 2010). The first recorded documentation of this seed dates back 4000 years to Assyrian texts which describe preparation of sesame seed wines for their gods (Parry, 1955). In the early days of sesame seed cultivation, the oil from the seeds was highly prized because of its year round availability and strong resistance to becoming rancid (Moazzami, 2006). This wonderful preservation quality is due to the unique number of lignans such as sesamolin and sesamol that are found within the sesame seed (Obiajunwa, et al., 2005). These antioxidants have been studied for their positive effects on lowering cholesterol levels (Matsumura, 2004) and blood pressure (Noguchi, et al., 2001). Interestingly, these same antioxidants have a practical use in vegetable oil products such as margarine because they can dramatically increase shelf life (Brar, 1982). Sesame seeds also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases (Harris, et al., 2009) and aid with proper brain development and function (Innis, 2012). Although these seeds are very tiny they have an abundance of minerals such as calcium, copper, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and zinc (USDA, 2012). These minerals are essential for normal body processes such as reducing inflammation, building bones and the prevention of osteoporosis. As well, these nutrients are vital for supporting a healthy vascular system by improving blood vessel strength and elasticity (Hyun, et al., 2004). In summary, this small seed contains heart healthy fats and many essential minerals necessary for a healthy body. The classic ‘open sesame’ phrase from Arabian Nights may have opened the door to a wealth of riches but what Ali Baba didn’t know was that it also lead to a wealth of health!
With the temperatures starting to plummet, there is no better time to make a large pot of chili full of healthy and colourful vegetables! This recipe is based on Jamie Oliver’s Chili Con Carne (Jamie’s Food Revolution), with a few modifications of my own. It is super quick to prepare and makes for a hearty lunch for the rest of the week.
- 1 ½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 white onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 13 baby carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 red pepper
- 1 yellow pepper
- 1 large sweet potato
- ½ tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Salt & pepper
- 1 can chickpeas
- 1 can white kidney beans
- 1 can (28 fl oz) whole tomatoes (low sodium)
- 2 cilantro stalks
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Garnishes: fresh guacamole, plain yogurt, cilantro and a wedge of lime
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot.
- Add to the pot all roughly chopped vegetables; onion, garlic, carrots, celery, red pepper, yellow pepper and sweet potato.
- Add the paprika, cayenne powder, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Stir so that all vegetables are evenly coated with the spices.
- Cook on medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring a few times.
- Drain and wash the chickpeas and kidney beans. Add to the pot.
- Squash the tomatoes with a potato masher, or your clean hands and add entirety of the can to the pot. As well, fill the can ¾ of the way with water and add to the pot.
- Thoroughly clean the stalks of cilantro and chop into small pieces. Add the stems to the pot and reserve the leaves for garnish.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and stir thoroughly.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer on low with the lid slightly askew for 1 hour.
- Stir every so often.
- Salt & pepper to taste and serve by itself or on a bed of your favourite rice.
- Garnish with fresh guacamole, plain yogurt, cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime.
Chickpeas are referred to by many different names depending on where you reside; Garbanzo beans, Bengal grams and Egyptian peas to name a few. This legume is one of the earliest cultivated foods, originally farmed in the Mediterranean Basin (Saxena, 1990). Presently, it continues to be an important food in the Middle East and is favoured because of its buttery texture, nutty taste and year round availability. Chickpeas are a great food for weight loss or management because of their high fiber and protein content paired with their low fat concentration. This winning combination allows you to feel full longer while also aiding with blood sugar regulation (Balanza, et al., 2010). Chickpeas contain no cholesterol and have actually been shown to improve cholesterol levels by decreasing LDL cholesterol (Bazzano, 2008). A study by Pittaway et al., (2006) followed participants for five weeks who were randomized to either a fibrous diet supplemented with chickpeas or wheat. Comparatively the group ingesting the chickpea supplemented diet had a significant reduction in both serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Furthermore, the association between increased legumes, specifically chickpeas, in the diet and a reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease is very strong (Leterme, 2002) and warrants further research. This vegetable’s amazing nutritional content includes important minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc. As well, chickpeas are great sources of healthy fatty acids and vitamins A, B, C, E and K (USDA, 2012). Best of all, it is easy to incorporate chickpeas into your diet since they can be found in a wide variety of recipes such as soups, salads and curries. Additionally, if you have intolerance to gluten there is high protein chickpea flour, referred to as garam, which can be used as a wheat flour substitute in many recipes. So just remember that no matter what you call this universally tasty and versatile legume it comes packed with a multitude of health benefits.