Friday, August 28, 2009

It foods

I don’t know when this happened; probably it was around the time that everyone became a vegetarian. But hummus is now an “it food”. There is a short list of foods that have been around for a long time, but in just the past few years have become increasingly popular. According to my observations (which are honestly just based on my experience living in the self-important state of California) these “it foods/drinks” are: hummus, soy, green tea, lentils, yogurt, blueberries, egg whites, salmon and whole grain anything. These foods are generally associated with a healthy diet. I imagine they make up a significant chunk of the foods and drinks the kind of people who do a lot of yoga consume. Of course there is nothing wrong with any of the foods on this list or yoga (although I would like to use this opportunity to say I do not condone the practice of yoga as a replacement for intense cardiovascular activity). All of these foods have their own specific health benefits:

Yogurt has a high level of calcium and provides your body with what is described as “good bacteria” that you need for your digestive and immune systems

Blueberries/green tea contain high levels of antioxidants, which are compounds that essentially fight the good fight against the “evil” free radicals out to destroy your cells which are believed to be linked to cancer (although there is still debate about that).

Salmon provides high levels of protein and the ohsohotrightnow omega-3 fatty acids.

Egg Whites are simply a great source of protein without the fat and cholesterol found in the yolks. Although cholesterol may not necessarily be the beast we have made it out to be for so many years. For more on that, you should rent the documentary this guy made.

There is much controversy surrounding soy. It is difficult to know what to believe. I choose not to go into it here; I would rather leave it up to the experts for and against the bean product.

Whole grain foods have become increasingly popular as has the witch hunt against carbohydrates. While whole grains still contain carbohydrates, they are considered a healthier option than refined grains because of their fiber content.

Like lentils, hummus (made mostly of chick peas) is considered a healthy food because of its high fiber and mineral contents. Unlike lentils, I would eat hummus all the time regardless of its nutritional value.

Hummus is a food I grew up eating. Being of Armenian/Lebanese decent, it was something I ate and enjoyed with my family for as long as I can remember. The hummus situation in my house was always accounted for. Other Lebanese foods floated in and out of our kitchen over the years, but hummus was a staple. It was only the good stuff too. Our hummus was usually from the neighborhood Middle Eastern grocery store called Sahara in Tampa. It was fresh, the perfect texture, and full of flavor.

When I bought a food processor the other day, the first thing I wanted to make was my very own hummus. I literally googled “what is in hummus” (although it turns out I knew exactly what was in hummus…I just didn’t want to miss something). Most basic hummus recipes are made up of chickpeas, tahini (sesame paste), lemon juice and garlic. I put all these ingredients in my food processor and went to work. I ended up adding a lot more lemon juice than I had expected, but I was able to get it to exactly how I like it (which may be a little different for each person). I had to make two batches because unfortunately, due to either my inexperience using a food processor or my lack of common sense for the moment, I used my spatula to wipe the sides clean while the processor was still running. A small chunk of rubber was immediately chopped up into unrecognizable pieces and blended with the first batch of hummus I made.

Take two was infinitely more successful and even tasted better (probably because it did not contain small amounts of rubber in each bite like the first one did).

Not Just Because It Is Good For You Hummus:

2 Cans chickpeas, drained (I will post an update next time when I soak overnight and cook my own chickpeas to let you know if it makes a difference or not...I am guessing not)
1/4 C tahini (more or less to taste)
1/2 C lemon juice (more or less to taste)
2-3 cloves garlic (chopped, crushed or minced)
salt and pepper to taste (about a 1/2 tsp each)

Just put all ingredients in a food processor (mine is a 6-cup processor, and it was more than big enough). Process ingredients for about 3-5 minutes or until well-blended. Taste and add different amounts of the ingredients as you go along.

Garnish the dish with a high quality olive oil, pine nuts and paprika as pictured. Other common garnishes include chopped fresh parsley, whole garbanzo beans

COMING SOON: Keep an eye out for an upcoming posting I will be calling, "The Hummus Experiment". I will be mixing several (some very unlikely) flavors into hummus and ranking them in order of deliciousness. I have a huge list of spices, sauces, and other weirdo things I am going to try (I don't want to give anything away for now), but please feel free to make any suggestions.

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