Bucking Tradition with Lower-Fat & Beet Hummus Recipes

I used to like hummus, but I never really loved it unless it was coming from an actual Greek restaurant. I couldn’t get myself to go crazy over any of the brands in the supermarket. Then, I tasted a homemade batch that one of my nutrition professors had made, and my taste buds just about died and went to heaven. It was fresh, clean, and so much more flavorful but in the subtlest, gentlest of ways. I knew that was the secret. Sure, I still buy and eat Sabras or Athenos every now and then, but more and more I have started to try my hand at homemade hummus.

Beyond the quality improvement that I think goes hand in hand with making your own, you can control a lot of different factors, from nutrition to new and exciting flavor combinations. Today I have two different recipes for hummus to share with you – one that demonstrates how easy it is to control the nutritional content, and another that shows how fun and creative you can get with different varieties (I’m not just talking about garlic or roasted red pepper, folks).

Before I get into those, though, I thought I might take a moment to break down a basic hummus recipe and talk about the individual ingredients that go into it, for anyone who might be new to this fantastic dip/spread.

Chickpeas: also called garbanzo beans, these beans are at the heart of virtually any hummus recipe – they are certainly the foundation for any traditional recipe you might see. You can read about my ode to chickpea recipes to see all of the versatile ways you can incorporate them into your diet. One half-cup serving has only 100 calories and 1.5 grams total fat, but it offers 5 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and only 13 grams of net carbs – making them a nutrient-dense choice for anyone. Mostly, though, I love them for their nice, understated flavor that pairs well with everything from feta cheese and lemon juice to smoky spices and spinach.

Tahini: the next ingredient that you will find in pretty much any recipe for hummus is Tahini, or what is essentially sesame seed butter. This seed butter has around 88 calories, 2.6 grams of protein, 3.2 grams of carbohydrates, and just under 8 grams of total fat per tablespoon. Considering that most serving sizes call for 2 tablespoons, this brings it up to be pretty comparable to other nut and seed butters. I have to admit, I have not once purchased a container of tahini. In the beginning, I got it in my head that it was overpriced compared to other butters. Now that I’ve seen the price tag on containers of, say, almond butter, I’m starting to rethink that assumption, but nonetheless, I have yet to find myself in possession of a jar of the Real Deal. Instead, I use whatever nut butter I have on hand – sunflower butter is a particularly nice substitute, but peanut and almond butters work just fine, too. I’m sure a hummus purist would tear their hair out over such news, but for the average home cook, it’s perfectly ok to use whatever you have in your pantry.

Flavorings: Once you get those two basic ingredients, most recipes will call for some ratio of garlic, lemon juice, and herbs/spices. The more traditional you go, the fewer extras will be thrown in, but lemon seems to be pretty much a staple no matter what. This helps with the clean, fresh taste I was talking about earlier, and can really lighten up the dip in terms of flavor.

Once you have the basics down, you can start playing around with different flavor combinations. Pumpkin hummus, cilantro-jalapeno hummus, carrot hummus, “skinny” hummus – the possibilities are really endless. In fact, I have yet to make a full-on traditional hummus, though the half-used bag of dried chickpeas in my pantry is calling to me for that very purpose.

The first recipe I have to share with you today is a lower-fat hummus. Even though tahini and nut butters give you a hearty dose of healthy fats (the unsaturated kind), they still contribute to calories, and when you’re adding hummus to a sandwich or something like that, the calories can add up and be pretty deceiving. So, I tried out a recipe that replaces all of the tahini with plain, non-fat Greek yogurt (possibly my favorite ingredient of all time – I really am only one step away from being Chobani’s chief spokeswoman). It did still taste like hummus, though it wasn’t particularly as smooth as I was hoping. This tends to happen with homemade hummus in general, so I’m not really too deterred by that. Still, in the future I might do a combination of nut butter and yogurt, just to get that hint of nuttiness in there without giving up on my buddy, Greek yogurt, completely.

After that, I tried out a beet hummus that bucks tradition pretty much at every turn. Rather than adding pureed beets to the chickpeas, and most variant hummus recipes do, this one actually replaced the chickpeas completely. What this means is that nutritionally, you’re getting less protein and more sugar and, really, a completely different gustatory experience altogether. It’s sweet, but tart from a generous serving of lemon, and the prettiest, brightest shade of magenta you could dream of.

Both were delicious in their own way, and a good way to shake things up if hummus is a common food in your diet. They couldn’t be easier to make, either – once the beans and beets are cooked (and you can see my notes below on how easy those can be to make), it’s really a matter of dumping everything into a food processor and making a puree. The extra little bit of effort that goes into making your own is far outweighed by the amazing difference in taste and the endless possibilities for flavor combinations – at least, if you ask me. 

 (Hummus Deviled Eggs made from the LF Hummus)

Low-Fat Hummus, courtesy of Healthy and Gourmet
Yield: 2 cups

The Ingredients
15 ounces chickpeas1
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup plain greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)

The Method
Add the cooked chickpeas, garlic, yogurt, and lemon juice to a food processor and puree until relatively smooth. Fold in the parsley and, just before serving, optionally drizzle with olive oil.

1I highly recommend using dried beans. To cook, simply place in a crockpot and cover with 2-3 inches of water, then cook on high for 3 hours. Allow to cool in the water (overnight works just fine). However, if you use canned chickpeas, just make sure you drain and rinse them well before using; the original recipe also encourages boiling them for 10 minutes before adding them to the food processor.

Beet Hummus, courtesy of Simply Recipes
Yield: 2 cups

The Ingredients
½ pound (about 4 medium) beets, cleaned, cooked, and peeled2
2 tablespoons tahini or nut butter
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon lemon zest3
salt and black pepper, to taste

The Method
Combine all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Adjust for seasonings as desired, then chill and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days (or freeze for longer).

2This process has always been what has intimidated me about beets. The effort, the staining – it all just seemed so daunting, so I had never tried a fresh beet before. One day I will tackle this, but if you’re like me, know that there’s a shortcut! My mom found these packages of cleaned and peeled beets at the store – 3 come in a pack. All you do is peel off the nutrition label sticker and boil them (in the package) for 15 minutes – done! Now, you can’t roast them this way (which is how the originally recipe suggested cooking them), so it is limited, but it’s perfect for a hassle-free way to introduce yourself to the preparation process.
3I was using dried peel as opposed to fresh, so I scaled it back to about 2 teaspoons. You might even consider going down to 1 ½ (aka ½ tablespoon) if you do the same.


  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS


Post a Comment