The Many, Many Ways to Love Hummus

GUY_F_ROASTED_RED_BELL_PEPPER_HUMMUS_H.jpg

GUY_F_ROASTED_RED_BELL_PEPPER_HUMMUS_H.jpg

Photo by: Matt Armendariz ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Matt Armendariz, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

A staple of Middle Eastern cuisine, hummus is creamy, endlessly customizable and packed with nutrients, including healthy fats, fiber and protein. If you love hummus already, there are countless tasty new iterations you can try. And if you're still a hummus holdout, please have a read -- I hope to sway your opinion.

Craft Your Favorite Hummus

If you're completely new to hummus and want to get a sense of what the traditional flavor tastes like, start with a base recipe such as Ina Garten's Hummus (it only takes 10 minutes to prepare).

Ina-Garten-hummus

Ina-Garten-hummus

There's also Alton Brown's Hummus for Real, which is made with the traditional sesame paste, tahini.

Alton Brown shares his favorite recipes.

If you don't have access to tahini, this Hummus Dip is a similar recipe that uses sesame oil instead.

Hummus Dip; Dave Lieberman

Photo by: Tara Donne

Tara Donne

Make a Spin-Off Hummus

With the base in place, you can add a range of ingredients to transform the flavor of the hummus: roasted garlic, rosemary or thyme, za’atar, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, chipotle chiles, pesto or Sriracha. Experiment and enjoy!

While the chickpea is the traditional bean of choice as the base for hummus, modern-day cooks tweak the recipe with different types of beans and vegetables as an alternative. There are endless possibilities, including:

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Enjoy Your Hummus

Pita is the classic dipper for hummus, and while extremely tasty, it can lead to snacking on more calories than you care to. Consider pairing hummus with some crunchy lower-calorie alternatives like carrots, celery, cucumber or broccoli.

Hummus can also be far more than a dip. Here are a few ways to use it:

• On top of scrambled eggs, with a little Sriracha if you like heat

• As a creamy replacement to egg yolks and mayo in deviled eggs. (I usually mix one or two yolks into the hummus and discard the rest.)

• As a sandwich spread instead of mayo

• As a binder, for a new take on chicken, tuna or egg salad. Make the hummus with spices that typically go well with the protein, such as sage for chicken.

• A dollop n chili instead of sour cream, as a dairy-free alternative.  I first tried this at Angelica Kitchen in New York City, and it was delicious.

• As a base for stuffing endive: For handheld appetizers, try endive spears with a small smear of hummus and a spoonful of tabbouleh on top.

Through his book and blog, Death of the Diet , Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, empowers people to live the life they want by integrating healthy eating and physical activity habits into their daily routines. You can follow him on Twitter @JMachowskyRDFit .

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