Sunday, May 3, 2009

Black bean hummus

Hummus is so good for you; you can pack it full of nutritious ingredients, and legumes are a wonderful vegetarian protein.

But I find that I tire of the taste of regular hummus, which is made with garbanzo beans, but I still enjoy its dip-like consistency to enhance my raw veggies and sandwiches. So, I'm always hoping to find new bean-filled recipes that I can use -- such as this incredible garlic and white bean dip. Someday soon I'm going to try to make some kind of lentil-walnut spread.

Today I made black bean hummus, which is very similar to the regular kind but has lime and cilantro. The addition of carrots is important because my black bean hummus tends to be very thick. The carrots give it a little juice and sweetness and boost its nutritional value.

Black bean hummus (makes 1-1/2 cups)

1 small can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/8 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup tahini

juice of 2 small limes

2 small carrots, chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves

1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder

3/4 teaspoon cumin powder

Process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Serve as a sandwich spread or with fresh vegetables, pita chips, or crackers.

Food fact: Legumes are a type of vegetable that includes beans, lentils, soy nuts, edamame, and peas, among several others,and they are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, according to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.

"Legumes are typically low in fat, contain no cholesterol, and are high in folate, potassium, iron and magnesium," reads the clinic's Web site. "They're also a good source of protein and can be a healthy substitute for meat, which has more fat and cholesterol."

According to Nutrition Data, 1 cup of black beans has 227 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 15 grams of protein.

The Mayo Clinic offers a helpful guide to legumes and how to use them in food.

Coming soon: A post with useful kitchen tips.

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