I eat a lot of hummus. Seriously, a lot. Legumes, like chickpeas, are a fantastic and clean source of protein for fuel, a healthy carb and great source of fibre. Add that to some powerful good-fat-packed sesame seeds and you’ve got a killer combo. Here’s the problem, though. What’s in that store bought hummus? Let’s take a quick sneak peak at some of the most common offenders.
Canola is not really a thing, did you know that? This oil is made from hybridized genetically modified Rapeseed and has been changed to the name “Canadian Oil”, or Canola Oil for short. Well, why is this an issue? Other than the ol’ GMO factor, the processing is the biggest problem here. A solvent called hexane is used to extract oil from the seeds. During this process, the oil becomes damaged, thus making it rancid. Rancid fats = toxicity to the body long term and especially harmful to the heart.
Being high in Omega 3’s has it’s benefits right? Yeah, but not when you heat them. You’re once again damaging the healthy fats, thus making them toxic to your cells. When you heat Canola Oil, those good fats turn to trans fats. When you eat these, you’re basically saying “F&%k you heart”. So frustrating, isn’t it?
Well, here’s a solution. If you are insistent on using Canola Oil, buy cold-pressed organic, stored in a dark glass bottle and just don’t heat it. But you’re not totally out of the woods yet. There’s still way better oils out there. Always do your research on the smoke point of the oil you’re using if you’re heating it. That way, you can avoid any potential carcinogenic action.
Oh dear, here we go. The Nutritionist is talking about preservatives. Listen, I get it. People want their food to last longer. I wish my avocados lasted for years (although I usually eat them within minutes of purchase), but that would mean that they’re not FOOD anymore. This one is pretty obvious, folks.
There are a wide variety of natural and synthetic food preservatives. Their role is to inhibit the activity of or kill the bacteria that breaks down the food product. Here’s an example, one that is commonly found in store bought hummus. Sodium Benzoate and/or Potassium Benzoate. Dun dun duuuuuuun! They even sound scary don’t they? Well, be scared. Studies have shown with long term consumption, the results are birth defects, rashes and asthma aggravation. Not to mention, when combined with vitamin C, they can form the cancer-causing benzene.
Anyone who knows me will understand how I feel about that term. It’s what I like to call a “blanket” term. If you have to call something a “natural flavour” instead of actually stating what it is, wouldn’t you say you were trying to hide something? Why not just put what it is? This is one of the unregulated terms on your ingredient list. I’m not saying that the government is hiding CIA secrets in your food, I’m just trying to make you aware that you maybe need to think twice before grabbing that food product off of the shelf when you see those two words.
Here’s an example of one of the hidden ingredients that get covered by this blanket term – MSG. Oh Monosodium glutamate, you silly bugger. Here to enhance flavours but all you’re really doing is causing rapid heartbeats, breathing difficulties, drowsiness, weakness, headaches, nausea… to name a few.
I’m not trying to scare you. I’m just here to inform you that you should be aware of what you’re consuming. Education is always the first step to health, so empower yourself with knowledge. One of the best ways to know what’s really in your meal is to make it yourself! Why not try making some of my homemade hummus instead?
1 can organic mixed beans, rinsed and drained
3 TBSP cold-pressed tahini
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TBSP sesame seeds
1 TBSP cumin
1-2 TBSP fresh dill, chopped
pinch chili powder
sea salt & black pepper, to taste
4 TBSP cold-pressed organic olive oil
In a food processor or high speed blender, add the beans, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, sesame seeds, cumin, dill, chili powder, sea salt & black pepper.
Blend while slowly adding the olive oil until smooth. Stop to stir if required.
Scoop out into a bowl and chill for approximately 20-30 minutes. Serve garnished with drizzle of olive oil and a light sprinkle of sea salt.
Recipe by Catherine Sugrue CNP