Like most of the western world I am making a vague effort to eat a little more healthily at the moment. It’s hard not to when the media are bombarding us with messages about detox regimes, getting your five-a-day, fasting and exercise programmes. Surely it was only a few short weeks ago that the same newspapers and magazines were encouraging us to roast everything in goose fat and follow it with fat and sugar laden cakes. How fickle they are…
However, having followed their advice to the letter before Christmas it seems only right to do so again now. In fact I feel ready to eat a little lighter; a little cleaner – to choose food that leaves me feeling energised rather than sluggish. I am happy to reduce my fat and calorie intake but I am not prepared to compromise on taste.
Generally speaking I tend to find lunch to be the most difficult meal of the day. A healthy breakfast is easy to achieve, a steaming bowl of porridge and some fruit or fruit salad with yoghurt takes no time at all to prepare. I usually have time to think about, shop for and enjoy cooking an evening meal. But come lunchtime I have three big danger zones: I am either running between meetings and have to rely on a shop bought (usually carb laden) instant lunch or I am training and a buffet lunch (think cocktail pasties!) is provided or I am working from home and either forget to eat at all or graze continuously throughout the day.
But I am trying to be focussed so if you come round at the moment you are likely to find a healthy pan of soup ticking away on the Rayburn or a bowl of hummus (houmous?) in the fridge along with some crudites or oat cakes.
Hummus is a healthy food anyway but it usually contains tahini (sesame seed paste) which, although full of nutrients, still has 600 calories per 100g and is over 53% fat so I tend to make a quicker, lighter version which uses fat free natural yoghurt instead of tahini.
Making hummus now is so easy – when I was a teenager I was a vegetarian and (as this was the early 80s) if I wanted to eat hummus I had to soak dried chick peas overnight then cook them for hours in a pressure cooker before I could even begin to use them. Now I buy my chickpeas ready cooked in a can or carton. Purists will tell you that they taste better done from scratch, which may be true, but these are plenty good enough for me. Now, if I have chickpeas in the cupboard I can rustle up some hummus in 5 minutes flat.
Hummus needs garlic. Most recipes use a clove or two of raw garlic which I find a little harsh so I tend to use just a small clove of raw and a whole head of roast garlic which gives the hummus depth and sweetness.
1 x 410g can of Cooked Chickpeas in Water
100 ml Fat Free Natural Yoghurt
A squeeze of Lemon Juice
1 small (or 1/2 large) Clove of Raw Garlic
1 Head of Roast Garlic (just pop it in the oven when you are cooking something else)
Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Reserve a few to top the hummus (i added a few pine nuts too) and place the rest in a food processor with the yoghurt, the raw garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice. Squeeze the roast garlic out of its skin and add to the rest of the ingredients and blitz until smooth. Serve topped with the reserved chickpeas and a sprinkle of chopped herbs. Season to taste.
To ring the changes try adding coriander to the mix or a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with oat cakes, slathered on a stick of celery or as a dip with some crunchy crudites.
As we are on a health kick it is worth noting that each 100g serving of this hummus has 102 calories and 1.2g of fat. This is significantly less than the low fat hummus at my favourite supermarket and it tastes better too.
If you are also watching the pennies then it may help to know it only cost me £1.39 to make all of this hummus which will provide 4 generous portions as a healthy snack or light lunch.