As we welcome 2014, now is the perfect time to make a few little tweaks to our habits that will pay off in terms of our bank accounts and our health! A significant drain on finances, and likely waistline expander, that may be under the radar for you, revolves around lunch. While you may not spend more than $15 at any given time, that expense can add up over a week or a month, and with portion sizes, salt, oil and sugar over the top at most eateries, going “out” to lunch on a regularly basis can be risky business. Over the past few month, many of us got out of the habit of bringing lunches from home, in favor of going out to celebrate the various holidays or as a result of getting bored with the “same old” lunch options from the fridge. I have a recipe for you this month that will not only put a little zip into your step (you can make it as mild or spicy as you’d like), but it is also versatile enough to be used in several different ways!
Muhummarah is a delicious spread or dip made from roasted red peppers and walnuts that I added garbanzo beans to in order to make my hummus-like “Muhummarah-mus”! While the name is quite silly, the flavors are fantastic! It is satisfying snack, with crunchy veggies, including carrots sticks, sweet bell pepper strips, zucchini sticks, cucumber rounds, broccoli & cauliflower florets, celery, jicama and more! I also love to enjoy it as a spread for a roll/wrap. Use whole wheat Lavash bread or a steamed collard leaf as the base, spread on the muhummarah-mas, and then top with a variety of textures – I often use grated carrot, julienned zucchini and cucumber, tomato and bell peppers (chopped very small), red onion, and a hearty portion of leafy greens (baby spinach, kale and chard). Personalize it by using your favorite veggies and then “roll away”! Enjoy it right away or wrap it up in plastic wrap and bring it to work. You could even eat it as a quick breakfast on the go! Adjust the seasonings to your liking, as there is a lot of room to “turn up the heat” if you like it hot! My muhummarah-mus can also be turned into a salad dressing by thinning it with your favorite vinegar and a bit of water… Yum!!! These are wonderful ways to nosh on beans and greens!
12 oz. jar of roasted bell peppers, drained
½ cup walnuts, lightly toasted
½ cup hemp seeds or sunflower seeds (or a combination)
2/3 cup crushed whole grain cracker crumbs*
Juice and zest from a fresh lemon
1-2 garlic cloves (pressed, crushed or minced)
1/2 tsp cumin (add more to taste)
1/2 tsp coriander (add more to taste)
¾ cup garbanzo beans (½ of a 14 oz. can)
1 TBSP hot sauce of your choice (add more to taste)
2 tsp maple syrup or honey
Salt/pepper to taste (add after you have tasted it)
In a food processor using an “s” blade, pulse a few handfuls of crackers at a time until you have a total of 2/3 cup of fine crumbs. Then, add the drained roasted peppers and the remainder of the ingredients to the cracker crumbs in the food processor. Process until desired texture is achieved. Add a dash of black pepper and more hot sauce (or a sprinkle of salt), based on taste preferences. Will keep in the refrigerator for a week and freezes very well, so you might want to put a small container of it in the freezer to enjoy in a few weeks!
Recipe adapted by The Nutrition Professor from www.onegreenplanet.org
Shop Smart, Prep Smart, Cook Smart Tips:
* Toast walnuts in a dry pan over medium heat, just until they begin to smell great, don’t burn them!
* I use the food processor to make cracker crumbs out of Mary’s Gone Crackers, original flavor, as they are 100% whole grain, gluten-free, and oil-free. Look for whole grain crackers without any partially hydrogenated fats (or any type of added oil).
Every January, I recognize the role that greens and beans play in prosperity and good luck for the coming year, so enjoy this delicious recipe with gratitude for all that you have and may it fuel your dedication to making 2014 the best year yet!
Timaree Hagenburger, is a registered dietitian and certified health fitness specialist with a master’s degree in public health. She is a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College, does corporate wellness work, as well as professional speaking engagements and teaches hands-on cooking/nutrition classes.
Read my article as published in the Lodi News Sentinel.