I have always been a big snacker. In fact, pretty much everyone in my family loves snacks. It was not uncommon for a family dinner to consist of an array of snacks, rather than a big meal. I never thought this was weird, that is until I met my husband…he does not look at snacks as a potential meal replacement. I will often set up a big spread of afternoon bites on the weekend and end up being the only one that really eats them. Then when dinner time comes around, my husband is starving and looking for a meal, but I have no interest because I just consumed an entire meal’s worth of calories in snacks.
I do not consider snacking to be a huge issue, as long as I eat healthy snacks. I typically indulge in veggies, fruits and nuts, instead of chips and processed dips. Of course there is a time and a place for everything! I am definitely the first one with my hand in the chip basket when we go out for Mexican food or if there is a bowl of fresh guacamole beside it. However, I generally try to eat snacks that are low carb, low fat, low in calories and have at least some redeeming nutritional value. This is where bean based snacks come into play. Beans are high in fiber, low in calories, low in carbohydrates, low in fat and high in protein. Plus, they are incredibly versatile and delicious.
Black Bean Hummus:
Hummus is a great snack. It’s healthy and super easy to make. Plus, it is the perfect dip for vegetables, breads or crackers. It is also vegan and gluten-free, so it pleases most people’s diets! This recipe has two slightly strange ingredients. Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds and is common in Mediterranean cooking. Most well stocked grocery stores carry it in the ethnic food aisle. The second is harissa, which is a North African spice blend made of a variety of different chilies and other spices. It comes in a paste form and a dried form. When I first started making hummus, my inspiration came from a Middle Eastern man that sold it at my local farmers market. He makes a spicy red pepper hummus with the perfect blend of harissa. I have tried endlessly to mimic his delicious hummus, but have never really succeeded. In the process I have become a big fan of harissa. It is available at some specialty grocery stores and I have even seen the dried version at Williams and Sonoma. If you cannot find it, chili powder and a bit of cayenne can be used in its place. Here is a delicious black bean hummus recipe that is great for all occasions.
- 2 cups cooked black beans – drained and rinsed (about 1 can)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons of harissa paste (or more if you would like it a bit more spicy)
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt to taste.
Place the garlic clove in a food processor or blender and mince. Add all ingredients, except olive oil and blend until mostly smooth. Drizzle the olive oil with food processor running until hummus becomes smooth and the consistency is soft, but not runny. Stir in salt to taste, one pinch at a time.
Serve with vegetable spears or crackers.
Crunchy and Spicy Garbanzo Beans:
This is the perfect snack to serve with drinks at a party or to munch on while on a long drive. Once the beans are baked long enough, they become slightly crunchy on the outside. They remind me a little bit of corn-nuts. You can coat them in any blend of spices you like; the beans are basically just a base for whatever flavors you are feeling. I like them a little smoky and spicy, but I am a spicy food fanatic. Once prepared, the beans will keep about a day when covered.
- 2 cups cooked garbanzo beans (about 1 can) rinsed and drained
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread beans out on a towel and let dry for about 15-20 minutes.
Mix spices and olive oil in a medium bowl (it will form a sort of paste). Add beans and toss to coat. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread the beans out evenly. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, tossing the beans a couple times throughout and testing for crunch. Sprinkle with sea salt when they come out of the oven. Let cool and serve.
Crunchy garbanzo beans inspired by Food Network Magazine, October 2012.