All Canned Beans are Not the Same

I realized after completing my post for the hummus recipe that I had not provided one important piece of information.  I preferentially use organic brands of canned beans.  I use them not because I think organic foods are better (I think that they are not as much better for you as they are touted to be, but still have value) and not because most of them use BPA free linings (I’m not super-concerned about BPAs, but think less chemicals in my food is generally a good thing), but because they are typically significantly lower in sodium:

Here are the nutritional values, recalculated with the values for a conventional brand of beans (see the original values here):

15  Servings
Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Calories 53   Calories from Fat 30
% Daily Value
Total Fat 3.4 g 5%
   Saturated Fat 0.4 g 2%
   Trans Fat 0 g
   Cholesterol 0 g 0%
Sodium 102.3 g 4%
Total Carbohydate 5.1 g 0%
   Dietary Fiber 1.4 g 5%
   Sugar 0 g
Protein 1.8 g 4%

Sodium jumps from 6.6 grams to 1o2.3 gram.  In the grand scheme of things, it initially seems like 4% of your sodium intake for the day isn’t a huge amount.  Keep in mind, the foods that hummus is usually served with: bread, cheese, pita chips and olives.  All of these foods tend to be rather salty.

I like to choose how much salt I add to my food, not leave it up to food manufacturers. Draining and rinsing canned beans can significantly reduce the amount of sodium.  There are also quite a few low sodium options on the market as well, which are a less expensive than the organic brands.

Of course, if you want total control, you could always cook the beans from scratch.

Hummus

hummus

Hummus garnished with za’atar (garnish not included in recipe).

Hummus is a tangy spread made from garbanzo beans.  It is a staple of middle eastern cuisine but it is also extremely versatile, and can be used as a sandwich spread, a dip, or as an accompaniment for a salad.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t have hummus for the first time until I was in college.  There used to be a restaurant in downtown Tucson called The Grill.  It’s been closed for a while know, but I still proudly wear my grill T-shirt with the logo of a 1950’s-style waitress standing on a speeding rocket, griping the reins around the nose cone with one hand and a steaming pot of coffee in the other.  A great logo, although if it was intended to express the speed of service, it was somewhat misleading.  That was a different time of life though; we weren’t as concerned with speed of service.

What’s that got to do with hummus? Well, The Grill had an eclectic menu, including a hummus plate.  Served with red onion, cucumbers, tomatoes, feta cheese, kalamata olives and french bread, the hummus they served was not anything special, but it made a great meal.  It’s a dish that I would serve regularly before we had kids (right now it would be a tough sell).

During my time as a cook, made hummus quite often, but always did it on the fly, without a lot of science.  Now I’ve taken the time to really go through it and do some test kitchen work and developed a refined recipe.  Following this I’ll demonstrate the versatility of hummus, both flavoring, and in use.

Ingredients

  1. 3 tablespoons tahini (42 grams)
  2. 1 tablespoon lemon juice (11 grams)
  3. 3 cloves garlic (10 grams)
  4. 1.5 tablespoon olive oil (18.75g)
  5. 1 can of garbanzo beans, 15  ounce (425g)

Equipment:

  • Food processor
  • Rubber spatula
  • Small bowl
  • Storage container

Preparation:

  1. Drain and reserve fluid from garbanzo beans
  2. Combine tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor. Blend until very smooth and creamy, about 1 minute
  3. Add garbanzo beans to the food processor.
  4. Blend until smooth, approximately 3 minutes.
  5. With processor running, gradually add the reserved liquid from the can, until desired consistency is reached. approximately 2/3rds of the liquid.

Nutrition Information:

15  Servings
Serving Size: 2 tablespoons
Calories 58   Calories from Fat 28
% Daily Value
Total Fat 3.1 g 5%
   Saturated Fat 0.4 g 2%
   Trans Fat 0 g
   Cholesterol 0 g 0%
Sodium 6.6 g 0%
Total Carbohydate 5.4 g 0%
   Dietary Fiber 1.4 g 5%
   Sugar 0.1 g
Protein 2.1 g 4%

 Food Safety:

Store hummus under refrigeration (between 32 and 41 degrees) for no longer than 7 days.

Sidetracked

Well, my paying work managed to drag me away from this project for almost six months.  It’s time to get back on track.  I hope to have my first recipe up within the week.   I’m also going to begin blogging on current events in nutrition.

For my work on this site, I developed a recipe analysis tool in LibreOffice, an open source office suite.  I really like LibreOffice and work in it regularly, but it occurred to me that if I drew a Venn Diagram of the people who would be interested in my work in nutrition informatics and the people who use open source software, the overlap would be very small.  In order to make my work more accessible, decided to rebuild the tool in MS Office.

I’m hopeful that, once the tool is complete:

  1. It will be useful (or at least interesting) to others
  2. It will serve as a prototype for my efforts to develop a recipe analysis application

If all goes as planned, I’ll be posting again shortly.