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Hand over the Hummus!

Guacamole and Hummus are two of the most popular dips in the United States. Guacamole's base is avocadoes, but what about hummus? The word hummus is an Arabic word, translating to chickpeas. Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are small, round, tan legumes. The main ingredients in a traditional hummus recipe include: chickpeas, sesame (tahini), garlic, olive oil, and lemon. The origin of hummus dates back to the 13th century with chickpeas thought to be one of the first cultivated vegetables.1

What is Tahini?

When searching for recipes for homemade hummus, one of the key ingredients is tahini. Tahini is a thick paste made from sesame seeds, and considered a cooking staple in Middle Eastern, Greek, and East Asian Cuisine. Tahini can also be called sesame paste or sesame butter and can be found in the specialty foods aisle of a grocery store, or gourmet food stores. If a local grocery store doesn't carry tahini, the thick paste can also be made at home with sesame, grape seed or olive oil, toasted sesame seeds, and a food processor.

Is Hummus Healthy?

Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) and sesame paste (Tahini), like other beans and seeds, are a great source of fiber. One cup of garbanzo beans has 24.4 grams of fiber.2 Garbanzo beans also contain folate, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C. Foods high in protein and fiber can help curb appetite thus feeling full for longer periods of time. Tahini is also a source of iron, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium.

Beyond the chickpea base of hummus, other ingredients in hummus such as garlic, olive oil, and lemon juice are nutritionally beneficial. Lemon juice, garlic, and even the garbanzo beans contain antioxidants that fight free radicals that cause damage to the body's cells. Think of antioxidants as the paint on a car that prevents the ugly rust from appearing. The olive oil and tahini also contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats that help lower blood cholesterol levels when used in place of saturated fat.

Serving Hummus

Hummus can be served in a variety of ways including, but not limited to:

  • Replace the mayonnaise in a sandwich or a tortilla wrap with hummus
  • Add hummus to the selection of condiments (ketchup, mustard, and hummus)
  • Serve hummus with warmed pita bread
  • Hummus is wonderful with raw vegetables such as precut carrots, celery, bell peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers, and broccoli
  • Instead of using cream cheese as a bagel spread, try hummus

Want to try a new hummus recipe? Below is an easy spinach and artichoke hummus recipe that adds an extra kick to the traditional hummus dip. Can't find tahini in any of the local grocery stores? Try a hummus recipe developed by the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension for an easy tahini free snack dip.

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Spinach and Artichoke Hummus

1-15.5 can low sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed—save some of the liquid from the can

2 cups fresh spinach

2.5 Tbs. tahini

1 ½ Tbs. olive oil

2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp. minced garlic

½ cup artichoke hearts or 4oz. can

¾ tsp. ground cumin

1/8 tsp. dried red pepper


In a food processor, combine all ingredients and pulse until smooth. To make the consistency smoother add the saved garbanzo bean liquid as needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an air tight container. Makes 8 servings.

Serving Size (1/2 cup): 110 calories, 6 g. total fat, 1 g. saturated fat, 85 mg. sodium, 10 g. carbohydrates, 4 g. dietary fiber, 4 g. protein


No-Tahini Hummus


1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon white wine or cider vinegar; OR 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 to 1/2 cup nonfat plain yogurt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon black pepper Dash cayenne


  1. Place all ingredients except yogurt and parsley in a food processor.
  2. Add 1/4 cup of the yogurt and blend until smooth. Add more yogurt, if necessary, until desired consistency is achieved.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the parsley.
  4. Eat within two days for best quality and safety. Avoid letting hummus set at room temperature for more than two hours, TOTAL TIME. Makes 4 Servings.

*University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension,

1. "Sabra Dipping Co. Dip Life to the Fullest."What Is Hummus? Read Hummus 101. Web. 09 Jan. 2015.

2. "Chickpeas."National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 27. United States Department of Agriculture, Web. 9 Jan. 2015.

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