Mild and nutty tasting, hummus is a Middle Eastern condiment that can be garnished with spices and herbs for unique flavors that pairs well with vegetables of all kinds, breads, and can even be used as pasta sauce or topped on chicken before baking for a crust that keeps meat from drying out.
Traditionally made with chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans) and tahini (sesame seed paste), hummus is a good source of protein, fiber and unsaturated fats. Chickpeas are a good source of the amino acid arginine, a precursor to nitric oxide, which acts as a vasodilator, relaxing blood vessels and increasing blood and oxygen flow. Therefore, it has been suggested that arginine may help reduce atherosclerotic risk factors, however research has predominantly looked at the effect of arginine supplementation, rather than arginine-containing foods, so more evidence is needed to confirm the cardioprotective mechanism and effect of arginine-rich foods, like chickpeas.
In any case, hummus serves as a great plant-based protein option. Try this recipe for a classic hummus or get creative with flavors and make your own version with these ideas:
- Use any canned beans you have on hand, like black beans or cannellini beans, instead of chickpeas
- Add in your favorite flavors like sriracha, sun dried tomatoes or olives
- Make a guacamole hummus by substituting lime juice for lemon juice, using avocado in place of tahini and adding cilantro and jalapeño