What is Hummus?

By Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N.

One of the participants in my weight loss program called Waist Watcher’s Guide to Waist Management at my church ask if anyone has any suggestions on good tasting hummus. So, I decided to investigate some recipe ideas and here’s what I came up with.

Hummus is a creamy paste typically made from a combination garbanzo beans (chickpeas), garlic, lemon juice and tahini. Tahini is sesame paste made from toasted sesame seeds.  Hummus is an excellent source of protein, dietary fiber and vitamins.  There are many variations of traditional hummus. Some recipes include different types of beans like black beans rather than garbanzo beans while other recipes eliminate sesame seed oil and use another type of nut oil like walnut oil. Hummus can be used as a dip, as a sandwich spread or as a spread for hot Panini.

Basic Hummus Recipe

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 176 calories, 6 grams protein, 12 grams of fat,  13 grams of CHO, 3 grams of fiber, 288 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 12 – ¼ cup servings


  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained & rinsed
  • 2/3 cup tahini (homemade or commercial)
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ tsp salt


Combine garlic, garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, ½ cup water, and olive oil in a food processor.  Process until smooth. Add salt, starting at a half teaspoon to taste. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Shopping List

  • garlic cloves
  • 2 15-oz cans of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • tahini (homemade or commercial)
  • lemon
  • olive oil

Serve with raw vegetables like carrots, green & red pepper, broccoli, celery, etc, whole grain crackers, or with pita bread or homemade pita crisps.

Fresh Vegetable Hummus

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 83 calories, 3 grams protein, 3 grams of fat, 11 grams of CHO, 2 grams of fiber, 108 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes Ready to Eat Time: 1 hour & 10 minutes

Serves: 12


  • 4 garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup tahini paste (homemade or commercial)
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (15-oz) can garbanzo beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 cucumber, coarsely chopped or green or red pepper chopped*
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch paprika


Put garlic, tahini paste, lemon juice, and olive oil into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Add garbanzo beans and chopped cucumber or chopped pepper.  Puree until smooth. Then add salt and pepper to taste. Blend spices well. Pour into a serving dish and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours to ensure flavors are blended well. Sprinkle with paprika before serving.

Shopping List

  • 4 garlic cloves
  • tahini paste (homemade or commercial)
  • 1 lemon
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (15-oz) can garbanzo beans
  • 1 cucumber or green or red pepper

*Can substitute bottled Roasted Sweet Peppers.

Spicy Black Bean Hummus

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 30 calories, 2 grams protein, <1 grams of fat,  6 grams of CHO, 2 grams of fiber, 209 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 12


  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup picante sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp grated lime zest


Put beans, picante sauce, lime juice and lime zest into a food processor or blender. Blend until mixture is smooth and creamy. Can be served immediately or refrigerated until ready to serve.

Shopping List

  • 1 15-oz can black beans
  • picante sauce
  • lime

From: Campbell’s Kitchen.

Toasted Walnut Hummus

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 45 calories, 2 grams protein, 3 grams of fat,  4 grams of CHO, 1 grams of fiber,  87 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 15 minute    Ready in: 15 minutes

Serves: 18


  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted
  • One 15-ounce chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup light Italian salad dressing
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper


Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth.

Shopping List

  • walnuts
  • One 15-ounce chickpeas
  • light Italian salad dressing

Whole Wheat Pita Crisps

Per Serving: 170 calories, 6 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fat, 5 grams fiber 340 mg sodium.

Serves: 1

Preparation Time: 5 minutes     Cook Time: 10 minutes


  • Whole wheat pita
  • Cooking Spray


Split each pita into 2 disks.  Slice each disk into 4 wedges, place on an ungreased cookie sheet, dust with cooking spray and garlic powder or Parmesan, and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes (or broil for 3 minutes) or until the edges are crispy.

Serve with salsa (optional).

Shopping List

  • Whole wheat pita
  • Cooking spray

Easy Tahini

Nutritional Information Per Serving: 160 calories, 3 grams protein, 13 grams of fat, 4 grams of CHO, 0 grams of fiber, <1 mg sodium.

Preparation Time: 5 minutes   Cook Time: 2 – 3 minutes

Cool Time: 20 minutes              Food Processor Time: 5 minutes

Serves: 16


  • 2 cups sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


Heat a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sesame seeds and toast lightly about 2 minutes shaking the pan so they toast evenly. Or you can Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast sesame seeds for 5 – 10 minutes, tossing the seeds frequently with a spatula. Do not allow to brown. Cool for 20 minutes.  Once completely cooled, put toasted sesame seeds in a food processor and drizzle in the olive oil. Pulse for 3 – 5 minutes or until the mixture is smooth. Add a little more oil if necessary. Remove from food processor and store in refrigerator.

Shopping List

  • sesame seeds
  • olive oil

How to Roast Nuts

An easy way to make any recipe with nuts taste better is to toast them. This allows their natural oils to be reinvigorated and their hidden aromas to be released. Always start with fresh nuts. Nuts have a built in expiration date since the natural oils can become rancid after a certain amount of exposure to air. To keep nuts fresh longer, store them in the freezer in airtight baggies or containers.

To toast nuts, preheat the oven to 350° F. Spread out the nuts in a single layer on a lined cookie sheet. Place in the middle rack of the oven and toast for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir the nuts halfway through the cooking time so the ones in the middle toast as quickly as the ones on the outside of the pan. Nuts taken from the freezer will take longer if not brought up to room temperature first.

Different nuts have different cooking times. Small nuts like pignoli take less time, while large nuts, such as Brazil or hazelnuts, take more. Macadamia nuts toast more quickly because of their higher oil content.

Once removed from the oven, transfer the nuts to a cool plate or pan. Add to your favorite recipe or eat them plain for a healthy, satisfying snack.

Image from: www.exclusivelyfood.com.au

Barbara Day, M.S., R.D., C.N, is a registered dietitian who has been teaching healthy lifestyles strategies to consumers for over 35+ years.

2 Comments on "What is Hummus?"

  1. Thanks, Barbara. I love this stuff, but I usually just mix it up from the powder I get at Rainbow Blossom or wherever. I’m sure it will these recipes will have a lot more flavor and nutrition than the package variety. Also, a friend of mine served black bean hummus last night. It was excellent. I think you can simply substitute black beans in place of chickpeas.

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