Whether it’s your next afternoon snack or party dip of choice, hummus is impressively healthy, absolutely delicious, and — surprisingly — really versatile!
Traditionally, hummus (which has origins in the Middle East) has a base of ground chickpeas, olive oil, and tahini. Thanks to the chickpeas, hummus is rich in protein, which is essential to many vital processes in the body, including tissue repair and energy production. Tahini is made from sesame seeds which are rich in naturally occurring plant compounds called lignans that have been shown to have cholesterol and blood pressure lowering effects. And, of course, there’s olive oil, a staple of the Mediterranean Diet and a rich source of antioxidants, healthy fats, and anti-inflammatory compounds.
There are far-worse foods you could eat than store-bought hummus, but making it at home is really easy, and it keeps the dip as healthy as possible. There are no preservatives or fillers in homemade hummus, but I understand that the standard recipe can get pretty boring after a while.
Here’s the good news: Hummus is incredibly easy to alter to your unique tastes, and below I have a few of my favorite ideas that provide a fun spin on classic hummus while also bumping up the health factor. Using this basic hummus recipe as a starting point, you may want to try one of the following ways to jazz up your favorite dip.
Swap chickpeas for zucchini
Many followers of the Paleo diet avoid legumes — which means chickpeas and traditional hummus are officially on the banned food list. If you’re looking for a Paleo-friendly way to have your hummus and enjoy it, too, try swapping chickpeas for zucchini. Instead of using two cups of chickpeas as your base, use one cup of diced zucchini, either raw or roasted, then follow the rest of the recipe as written. It’s also totally up to you if you want to leave the peel on or remove it.
Some people find this vegetable-centric twist to be easier on their digestive systems than the standard hummus recipe. Zucchini is also a great low calorie source of many essential nutrients including vitamin C, B6, potassium, and vitamin K.
Swap black beans for chickpeas
Chickpeas are not the only bean that be used as a base when creating a creamy hummus. If you’re looking for another protein-rich option, try using black beans as your main ingredient — they’re very high in fiber and can help keep blood sugar levels more stable, which is especially helpful to anyone who has diabetes or is pre-diabetic.
Here’s how to alter the above recipe to make black bean hummus: (1) swap the chickpeas for the same amount of black beans; (2) reduce the tahini to one tablespoon; and (3) if you like, add one teaspoon of cumin, an antioxidant-rich spice that goes really well with black beans.
Kick up the heat with jalapeños
If you’re a fan of spicy foods, all you have to do to make your dreams of spicy hummus a reality is to add one or two fresh whole jalapeños peppers to the mix. Depending on your desired heat level, you can choose how many peppers and you can also choose to leave the seeds in (hotter) or take the seeds out (less spicy).
And it doesn’t just taste great — spicy foods like jalapeños are a great way to bolster your metabolism and weight loss efforts. Research has shown that the capsaicin found in these peppers has the ability to boost body temperature and metabolism. In addition, spicy foods are known for decreasing appetite, which means a less likely chance of overeating.
Want to add a memorable flavor and color change to your usual hummus? Follow this Beet Hummus Recipe and you’ll be wowing yourself and guests with how beautifully colored a homemade dip can be. Additionally, beets are known to improve heart health because of the naturally-occurring nitrate they contain. When we consume beets, our bodies turn this nitrate into nitric oxide, which then has positive effects on blood circulation as well as blood pressure.
Spice it up with turmeric or curry
If you’re looking to gain an anti-inflammatory edge from your hummus then trying adding spices or spice blends like turmeric or curry powder. Both of these options contain curcumin, a bright yellow, naturally occurring plant compound.
Curcumin is the active component of turmeric that is responsible for its well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory super powers. How beneficial is it? Curcumin research to-date is pointing towards the possibility that it can slow the spread of cancer and even prevent cancer in the first place. Depending on how strongly flavored you want your hummus to be, you can add one to two teaspoons of spice to the recipe.
Try one of these five delicious — and healthy — ways to jazz up your hummus, so that you can keep this nutrient-rich dip in constant rotation.
This story "Five Easy, Healthy Ways to Jazz Up Your Hummus" was written by Josh Axe.