Hummm? What is Hummus?

By Susan K Wilkerson, RD, LD at Lexington Medical Center

Hummus has made it to the Patient Room Service Menu at Lexington Medical Center! BUT WHAT IS IT? Hummus has been around for centuries. Hummus is a Middle Eastern food dip or spread, served cold, made out of cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), olive oil, lemon juice, tahini (ground sesame seed paste), salt and garlic. Hummus is an Arabic work meaning “chickpeas”.

Hummus PictureHummus is high in iron and vitamin C and has significant amounts of folate and vitamin B6. The chickpeas are a good source of dietary fiber and protein. However, it is not a complete protein, which provides all the essential amino acids.

Foods are often combined together to get all the essential amino acids or a “complete protein”. Grains and legumes are served together to get all of essential amino acids. Nuts and seeds are also complementary to legumes because they contain the essential amino acids the legumes are low or lacking in, completely providing all the essential amino acids together. You do not need to eat complementary proteins together at every meal. As long as you get a variety of proteins throughout the day, you will get ample amounts of each essential amino acid.

The Tahini is ground up sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid, methionine complementing the proteins with the chickpeas to make a complete protein. Therefore, hummus is useful in vegan and vegetarian diets. The tahini can be hard to find in the grocery store so it is frequently omitted from the recipe. Then the hummus can be eaten with bread to make it a complete protein. Often it is served with pita bread or other flatbreads.

Hummus is very simple to make. It is often used as an appetizer, a quick snack, or complimenting a main course of fish, chicken or eggplant. It is served with raw veggies for a dip or pita bread as a spread. It can be substituted for mayo on a meat sandwich. Many different flavors are added to hummus making it very versatile. Sun dried tomato hummus is one of the more popular flavors and very easy to make. Hummus can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to one month.

Hummus recipe

1 16 oz can of chickpeas/garbanzo beans
1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
1 1/2 tablespoons tahini/ peanut butter/ nut butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil


Drain chickpeas and reserve ¼ cup liquid from can. Combine all remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Add 1/4 cup of liquid from chickpeas. Blend for 3-5 minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth.

Place in serving bowl, and create a shallow well in the center of the hummus.

Add a small amount (1-2 tablespoons) of olive oil in the well. Garnish with parsley (optional or something colorful). Serve immediately with fresh, warm or toasted pita bread, or cover and refrigerate up to 3 days.

Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans/chickpeas (15 oz.), drained
3 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes in oil
2 teaspoons parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a food processor, combine all ingredients and process until smooth and creamy. If too thick, add 1 tablespoon water until desired consistency.

Serve immediately with hot pita bread, veggies, or pita chips. Store in an airtight container. Sun dried tomato hummus can be made up to two days in advance.

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