Hummus!

Today’s post is inspired by my dog Lou’s insatiable appetite for hummus. Sometimes I think he eats better than me and my husband with his affinity for hummus, mangoes, clementines, and Greek yogurt. One thing I look towards the most every day is coming home and snacking on hummus with my pup 🙂

Lou collageCall it the food nerd and dietitian in me, but sometimes I get excited thinking about how something so delicious can be so healthy for you. And with the varieties of hummus that are out there, the sky is the limit on the flavor and nutrition profiles you can create with this great dip. Because hummus is essentially pureed garbanzo beans typically including olive oil and other “hummus staples”, hummus is a great source of protein, fiber, and heart healthy fat. Folate, zinc, and magnesium are additional vitamins and minerals that tend to be present in hummus as well.

Making your own hummus at home can be easy and fun, especially when putting your own spin on recipes. My favorite varieties of hummus tend to be on the spicy side 🙂 Below I have included One of my favorite recipes from fellow dietitian Roberta Duyff with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Sun-Dried Tomato-Olive Hummus (don’t worry, not spicy 🙂 )

Ingredients

2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 cup finely-chopped sun-dried tomatoes (not oil packed)
1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or Italian (flat) parsley
2 tablespoons pine nuts for garnish (optional)
1 teaspoon paprika (optional)

Directions

  1. In a food processor or blender, combine chickpeas, yogurt, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and cumin. Process until smooth. Consistency should be smooth but not runny.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, olives and cilantro.
  3. Refrigerate for 1 hour or longer to blend flavors.
  4. To serve, top with pine nuts and/or paprika, if desired.

Nutrition Information

Serves 12 (1/4 cup serving)
Calories: 100
Calories from fat: 30; Total fat: 3.5g; Saturated fat: 0g; Trans fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium 210mg
Total carbohydrate: 13g; Dietary fiber: 3g; Sugars: 2g
Protein 4g

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If you’re trying to decide how to eat your hummus outside of dipping a pita chip in there, see the 10 Helpful Hummus Tips from WebMD to create some variety in your hummus lifestyle:

1. Hummus serves as a super spread on sandwiches and wraps. Try it instead of mayonnaise. You’ll get more flavor with less fat.

2. Hummus turns into a tasty dressing. Blend some hummus with broth, water, or wine until you get your desired drizzling consistency to make a dressing for cold pasta salads.

3. Hummus serves as a great dip with raw veggies. Fill a serving bowl with the hummus of your choosing and surround the bowl with assorted raw vegetables such as sugar snap peas, sliced cucumber or zucchini, grape or cherry tomatoes, and broccoli or cauliflower florets.

4. Hummus + salsa = a spicy dip. Spice up plain hummus by blending in your favorite salsa. With about 20 seconds of mixing, a spicy dip is born.

5. Hummus is for hamburgers. Use hummus as a spread for veggie, turkey, or beef burgers in place of traditional condiments like mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue sauce, or mustard.

6. Make a better bruschetta with hummus. For a more satisfying serving of bruschetta (an Italian appetizer of grilled sliced bread traditionally topped with a mixture of chopped tomato, garlic, olive oil, onion, and basil), top a sliced toasted baguette with some hummus before adding a dollop of the tomato bruschetta topping.

7. Hummus is easier to make than you may think. Just combine all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse for a minute. It keeps in the refrigerator for several days.

8. Serve hummus with whole grains. Hummus works well as an appetizer served with whole grain crackers and crisps. Toasted whole wheat pita pocket crisps or grilled whole grain tortilla triangles are ideal but whole wheat crackers complement the flavor of hummus, too.

9. Spread hummus instead of cream cheese. Try hummus on your whole grain bagel instead of cream cheese.

10. Hummus is a friend of falafel. If you are a fan of falafel (fried or baked crispy balls made with chickpeas, bulgur, and spices), hummus is a nice condiment for falafel served as an appetizer or as a filler in a pita sandwich.

Do you have a favorite hummus recipe? Please share and spread the hummus love 🙂 🙂

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Healthy Vending Machine Snacks

20130411_104541  Ah vending machines…depending on our mood, our hunger level, or our personal dietary restrictions (or lack thereof) they can be our best friend or source of frustration. Yesterday morning I was running through the house like a madwoman trying to get ready to help with a wellness event at 7am, right afterwards I had a meeting and conference call which left me sans breakfast and with a very hungry and desperate stomach by 10:30 a.m. After scraping the bottom of my purse and desk drawers for loose change, I found myself standing in front of the vending machine for several minutes deciding what would be the most appropriate choice so far from breakfast but oh so close to lunchtime.

I’m sure many of you can relate to my anecdote on various levels. Working in a college town, I find many of the clients I encounter in counseling and group sessions inquire about how to eat healthy from the vending machine if it’s the only option at the time or if they should even eat at all. One thing that we should definitely take into consideration is understanding that though the vending machine may not be our first choice when it comes to a source of nutritious food, there are certainly some appropriate options available that can help us avoid going long periods of time without eating…especially if you’re in a class, meeting, or work function that rolls into a meal time.

When choosing a snack from the vending machine, it’s helpful to know the nutrients that will address our hunger and keep us full for the longest amount of time. Below I’ve listed some nutrients to keep in consideration when picking the best snack choice:

Fiber: not only does fiber aid in keeping our bowel movements regular, lowering our cholesterol, and controlling blood sugar levels, but fiber can help us feel full for an extended amount of time. Unlike simple sugars, fiber takes longer for the body to digest and provides “bulk” to our meal or snack without tacking on excessive calories.

Protein: Not only is protein used for repair & maintenance of cells in our body, but protein can also address our hunger quickly and provide fullness for an extended period of time. Though carbohydrates are our body’s preferred fuel source (and the only thing our brain can run off of in the form of glucose), protein and fat are more chemically complex and take longer for the body to digest thus leaving us fuller for a longer amount of time.

Fat: When it comes to fat, it depends on the type. Mono and polyunsaturated fats that come from sources such as nuts, seeds, fish, olive oils, etc. are extremely heart healthy. Luckily for us, vending machine options such as trail mixes and nut packs provide these heart healthy fats. When it comes to feeling satisfied and full in a meal, fat can provide that feeling of satiety that we’re looking for, keeping us fuller for a longer amount of time.  Keeping that in consideration, you do want to avoid convenience snacks that provide high amounts of saturated and trans fat (not to mention simple sugars), for example, a honey bun, poptart, or regular potato chips.

If you’d like some specific examples of some specific vending machine choices, check out these recommendations from Fitness Magazine:

 Planters Sunflower Kernels (1/4 cup)
160 calories, 14g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 4g fiber
The Bottom Line: Full of healthy fats

 Baked! Lays Original
210 calories, 3g fat, 0g sat fat, 4g fiber
The Bottom Line: Surprisingly fiber-full

 Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels (20)
110 calories, 0g fat, 0g sat fat
The Bottom Line: Naturally fat-free

Smartfood Reduced-Fat Popcorn
120 calories, 5g fat, 1g sat fat, 2g fiber
The Bottom Line: Low fat, and has fiber!

Nature Valley Granola Bar, Oats & Honey
180 calories, 6g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 2g fiber
The Bottom Line: Beats hunger

Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts (39)
160 calories, 13g fat, 1.5g sat fat, 6g protein
The Bottom Line: High in protein

Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bar, Chocolate Chunk
110 calories, 2g fat, 0.5g sat fat, 1g fiber
The Bottom Line: Guilt-free chocolate

Triscuits
240 calories, 6 grams fiber
The Bottom Line: High in fiber but don’t resort to Wheat Thins Toasted Chips when they’re out of stock which won’t provide as much fiber and packs a punch of sodium

For some helpful additional guidelines in picking up some healthy vending machine choices, check out recommendations from the Alabama Department of Public Health‘s 10-10-5 guidelines when it comes to healthy vending choices 🙂


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Happy Snacking 🙂 🙂