Creamy, loaded with protein-rich beans and heart-healthy olive oil, what’s not to like about hummus? For those looking to swap out their chips and dip for something healthier, hummus is the perfect answer. It pairs well with raw veggies or whole grain bread for an ideal snack or sandwich accompaniment. Think hummus is too mild for your tastes? Think again. Recently there’s been a flavor explosion for this simple dip. While traditional hummus is basically garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon, olive oil, and perhaps tahini, newer versions in your supermarket are going outside the recipe box by using different beans or even vegetables as the base with flavorful ingredients like sriracha, caramelized onions, avocado—and even chocolate.
The only thing to watch out for is sodium. While several hummus varieties are quite low in sodium, many have 200 milligrams (mg) in just one 2-tablespoon serving, so keep your eye on the nutrition label. Remember, you can whip up your own low-sodium version easily by pureeing drained unsalted, cooked or canned chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini in the blender or food processor.
Keep these ideas in mind when choosing hummus:
► Watch your serving. A serving size is only 2 tablespoons. Because the calorie and fat content is usually moderate (up to 80 calories and 6 grams fat per serving), going a bit overboard shouldn’t be too much of an issue. However if you have concerns regarding sodium, try to choose a variety with less than 125 mg per serving.
► Experiment! Hummus is a great dip for crackers and veggies, but it also can be used in other ways. Try it in place of mayo as a sandwich spread, mix it with a little vinegar for a salad dressing, or toss it with hot pasta and your favorite seasonings for a delicious meal.
► Protein power. One of the perks of hummus is the satiating plant protein it contains, thanks to the beans. Make sure you’re getting your beans’ worth by choosing hummus with at least 2 grams of protein per serving.
—Heidi McIndoo, MS, RD
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