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2018-02-21 / Taste

Snack on this: Heavenly hummus and seed crackers

BY SARAH KURYSZ

JENNY McQUEENJENNY McQUEENSnack foods tend to get a bad rap. It’s easy to equate them with junk food. Yet, homemade snack foods can be both delicious and nutritious, not to mention limitless in ingredient and flavor options. Snacking is a pastime in itself, one that complements some other favorite pastimes. A long drive becomes a road trip with the right snacks. A movie just wouldn’t feel the same without a sweet or salty accompaniment. And curling up with a good book, a fresh cup of tea and something to nibble on is my idea of perfection.

Finding a snack food that packs some nutritional value is the ultimate goal for me. That, and finding a recipe that I can make once and enjoy for several days.

Enter hummus: flavorful, high in protein and fiber, and both inexpensive and easy to make. Hummus consists of just a few ingredients: mashed chickpeas, garlic, tahini, olive oil, salt and lemon. There is evidence that this dish has been around since the 13th century. Over the generations people have experimented with incorporating different flavors – you can play around with this recipe to your heart’s content.

Let’s talk basic ingredients. Chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) make up the majority of the dish. They are drier than other beans, with a chalk-like texture, which gives hummus its thick consistency, making it ideal for dipping or spreading on a sandwich. Tahini is a product made from pureed sesame seeds. I prefer roasted tahini, as the roasting process brings out the depth of flavor in the sesame seeds. It can be found near the peanut butter at nearly any grocery store and, along with garlic, gives the dish its wonderfully rich flavor. Lemon gives it a slight tang. Finish it off with some olive oil and salt, and you have utter snack perfection.

Classic hummus
Yields 6 servings

One 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 Tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons warm water
½ teaspoon salt

JENNY McQUEENJENNY McQUEENCombine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Feel free to add extra olive oil or warm water for a lighter consistency. Serve at room temperature or chilled, on its own or with your choice of garnish; a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkled paprika are lovely. Store covered in the fridge for up to 1 week.

If you feel like jazzing it up a bit, try adding one of the following for a totally different flavor. Just toss it into the food processor with the other ingredients and blend.

½ cup roasted red peppers (found
in a jar by the canned olives in the
grocery store)
1/3 cup pesto
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 fresh jalapeno, seeds removed
½ cup olives, no pits
½ cup artichoke hearts

While hummus goes well with almost any dipper at your fingertips (carrot sticks, cucumbers or pita bread to name a few) homemade seed crackers are one of my go-to favorites.

Five-seed crackers
Yields 20-30 crackers depending on size

½ cup raw chia seeds
¾ cup raw flax seeds
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons warm water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside and allow to sit for 10 minutes.

While your seed mixture is resting, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. After 10 minutes, turn your mixture out onto the parchment. You will notice that the flax and chia seeds have become almost mushy. Spread evenly until the mixture fills the pan and is about ¼ inch thick.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven. If you want to cut the crackers into squares, do this now, while they are still hot. If you allow them to cool, they can be easily broken into random pieces, and they taste just as good as square crackers.

Enjoy with your freshly made hummus and declare yourself a snacking champion! ¦

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