For the past three years, I have been living in Israel. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Israelis, is that they love their hummus. The average Israeli eats 8-10 kg (18-22 pounds) of hummus each year! I don’t consider myself an Israeli yet, but here in the country, I do enjoy a hummus for lunch with friends in the weekend. And I take a nap afterwards, if possible. I just love the small hummus places in the Yemenite quarter of Tel Aviv (Keren Hatemanim). Some other great options for having a hummus in Tel Aviv/Yafo area are found here.
It is however not only where you eat hummus, more important is the how of eating hummus (watch this episode of crazy Israeli Pini, start at minute 2). Hummus restaurants often have a very simple menu; a plate of hummus, topped with masabacha, cooked chickpeas or fava beans, fresh pita bread to dip your hummus in and onion and lemon on the side.
But uhmm, is eating hummus like that healthy?
Hummus is not only an extremely popular food in Israel, this chickpea dip is taking over the world. In itself, hummus is pretty healthy. It is made of chickpeas, tahini, garlic, olive oil and lemon. Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) are protein- and fiber-rich legumes that have been linked to many health benefits, such as lower blood cholesterol levels, lower heart disease and diabetes type 2 rates and weight control. Also, fresh hummus is packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and healthy fats.
However, hummus can be fattening under certain circumstances. In Israel, the common serving size of hummus is around one cup, which equals to 400-450 calories. Top that with pitas, that contain another 270 calories (plus a lot of sodium) each, and it adds up to a whole lot of calories. So you might want to go easy on the pitas and opt for a smaller portion size. The good news is that hummus has a low glycemic index, which means that it takes time for the nutrients to be taken up in the bloodstream. Hummus will keep you full and satiated for hours (and that’s why you might feel like taking a little nap afterwards).
If for the reasons above, you’d rather not go to a restaurant to enjoy an Israeli size serving of hummus, you can enjoy your hummus at home as well in more modest portions. Great options are to use self-made hummus as a spread on your sandwich or as a dip for raw vegetables. Try and make hummus yourself with this recipe of Jamie Oliver.
So bottom line, relax and eat some hummus sometimes. It’s not bad at all 🙂