Plant-Based Protein: Hummus
Plant-based protein is all the rage these days. More and more products are appearing on our shelves that utilize foods like peas, nuts, beans, and seeds as the base to their products. It seems that more people are shying away from loads of meat and dairy in their diet, as these foods often contain unhealthy fats as well as extras like antibiotics and hormones, not to mention their negative effect on the environment. Plant-based proteins, like chia seeds and pea protein, can provide a more sustainable, nourishing alternative.
A vegetarian-based diet is associated with a number of health benefits. It can reduce blood pressure, which is huge because high blood pressure is – along with diabetes – one of the leading causes of heart and kidney disease. Eating a more vegetarian-based diet is also associated with reducing blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as reaching and maintaining a more desirable weight. This does not mean I’m saying everyone needs to cut out all animal products from their diet, but it would likely be beneficial for you to eat more meals that are free of meat and dairy as often as you can! I aim to have at least one vegetarian meal each day.
Hummus is just one of those foods that can act as a great base to a meal or snack. Hummus is everywhere! And for good reason. Chickpeas, the foundation of hummus, are pretty high up there as one of the healthier foods for you. Chickpeas – and other legumes like black beans and lentils – are a super source of soluble fiber, a nutrient that has been associated with lowering cholesterol levels, regulating blood sugar and helping you have more regular bowel movements. Chickpeas are also a great source of protein, as well as folate – a nutrient we need to prevent anemia and promote heart health.
Hummus is made by blending chickpeas into a puree-like consistency, along with other goodies like olive oil, garlic and turmeric (or whatever your little heart desires!). Tahini, or sesame paste, can be a fabulous addition, as this creamy staple is rich in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats that promote a healthy heart. And when compared to other nuts and seeds, sesame seeds were found to have the highest total phytosterol content; eating phytosterols can help reduce cholesterol levels. Not to mention, tahini’s nutty taste adds some extra delicious flavor to your hummus dish.
You can easily make your own hummus in bulk for the week, as seen below. Or you can simply grab it at your grocery store. Some brands that I recommend with only real ingredients, good nutritional profile and easy accessibility include Roots and Hope.
See below for my recipe that you can use as a base and include whatever add-ins you like to change up the flavor, whether that’s roasted red pepper or eggplant, Feel free to try other additions as well, like roasted eggplant or red peppers, artichoke hearts, or jalapeno. You can also top with pine nuts for some added texture and flavor!
2 cans of drained chickpeas (for canned, I like Eden’s Brand No Salt Added)*
½ cup tahini (optional)
1/3 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves (less or more depending on your love of garlic J)
1 tbsp ground turmeric
Lemon juice (I’ve used that from 1 lemon but use more or less as desired)
1 tbsp water (adjust as needed)
* Of course, you can really use any kind of bean you’d like, whether that’s chickpeas or black beans, white beans, yellow lentils.
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor. Start with less water- can always add more to make hummus thinner. Serve with a colorful crudité of carrots, cherry tomatoes, celery, cucumber and peppers. And voila- delicious and all from the earth!