hummus with pine nuts and cilantroHummus has a past Hummus, likely of Middle Eastern origin,  is a dish served throughout the Middle East, the Mediterranean and parts of India.  Regional differences create particular flavours, so it is easy to have hummus taste different each time you experience it.  What could be better —  as a dietary staple it has built in variety!

Chickpeas at home and abroad Chickpeas, known also as garbanzo and cece beans, are the stars of the hummus show.  Globally, chickpeas are an important dietary legume.  80% of the world’s chickpeas are produced in South and South-East Asia, with India being the main chickpea producer.  In Canada, the lovely province of Saskatchewan produces chickpeas, and Agriculture Canada collects a bunch of Canadian Chickpea Statistics.  Both kabuli, the larger cream coloured beans more commonly referred to as garbanzo beans and desi, a smaller and darker coloured bean are grown in our prairies.  It is the desi which makes the best hummus.

The question most on your mind — Canned or Dried? Hummus recipes come in wide variety.  Just put it into a search engine and you will find enough to make a different version every Friday for a year.  Sadly, most of these recipes use canned chickpeas instead of the dried version, and the nutritional value of the end product is hugely compromised.

Here’s the scoop on nutritional information:

dried1c of dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked, will provide 3.5x the fibre of the canned option (24g vs 7g) and 1/10th the sodium (40g vs 390).  Wow!  The canning process also results in a significant loss in amino acids (proteins) and omega-3 fatty acids, which is a typical loss in most processed foods.

As well, chickpeas are an excellent source of protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals including manganese, tryptophan, iron, copper and phosphorus.  They are low on the glycemic index, making them an excellent choice of carbohydrate, and they contain both soluble and insoluble fibre.

Health-enhancing chickpeas Oh, where to start?!

  • all that great fibre provides cholesterol-lowering benefits.  Research indicates that legume consumption is associated with an 82% decrease in the risk of death from coronary disease
  • the slow-burning complex carbohydrate content makes chickpeas an important food source for individuals with diabetes as it helps stabilize blood sugar levels
  • as a source of iron for energy, it is a fabulous low fat alternative to red meat.
  • combined with brown rice or whole wheat pasta, chickpeas will provide a complete protein source, being particularly beneficial in a vegetarian diet.
  • as a good source of tryptophan, sometimes referred to as ‘nature’s prozac’, chickpeas can improve your mood, enhance the quality of your sleep and help regulate your appetite.

Chickpeas at work

  • chickpeas are ground into flour, called gram flour.
  • sprinkle them with spices and eat them just like that as a snack
  • add them to your salad
  • toss with cooked penne, olive oil, feta cheese and fresh oregano
  • add to your veggie soup whole, to add texture, or as a paste (from the blender) to thicken
  • cook them in tomato sauce, add curry and walnuts and serve with brown rice
  • add tahini, garlic, lemon juice, yoghurt and cumin for a more traditional style hummus
  • or, close your eyes, breathe deep, let the universal hummus vibe find you and create your own spectacular hummus
    pine nuts & cilantro hummus

    pine nuts & cilantro hummus

    garlic & sundried tomato hummus

    garlic & sundried tomato hummus

    So, this evening I’ll be enjoying the sundried tomato & garlic hummus with rice crackers and veggies with my partner while we watch a foreign film.  A totally enjoyable way to end the week.

Oh, that will be sometime after an evening meal which culminates with the berry tart with toasted nut crust I made this afternoon!