After last week’s Sun dried tomato and basil crackers, I thought it was only fair to bring you a fun and healthy twist on a classic hummus recipe. This dip is quick, easy and is very flexible in the sense that you can add as much or as little spices according to your own palate. I actually designed and researched this recipe several months ago when a friend asked me to submit a piece to an in-house newsletter written entirely by post-docs at my work. In hindsight, I realize now that researching and writing this article was the birth of the idea for “Scientifically delicious”. I remember getting so excited as I looked up new scientific articles, which focused on understanding how the chemical properties/activities of certain ingredients help to change how our body works. I also think that learning the science behind food was the missing piece to my making a full commitment to a truly healthy life style. I feel like once you know the secrets (science!) behind how food helps or hinders you, it’s much easier to put down the brownies and to start putting more effort into preparing homemade dishes with fresh, organic ingredients.
For this dip, I am using white beans (also known as Phaseolus vulgaris) in place of cooked chickpeas. The reason for this substitution was based on a very interesting article I read in the Nutrition Journal. In the article, the authors present several case studies, which focus on testing whether a dietary supplement made entirely of white bean extract was able to promote weight loss.
This hypothesis was based on several facts:
1) As soon as we eat, our body begins to break down carbohydrates into basic sugar molecules. As the sugar enters our blood stream, a hormone called insulin is produced, which works to move the sugar (glucose) from the blood into the muscles (for energy) or fat cells (for storage).
2) Theoretically, there are two major ways to reduce the spike in insulin levels (and subsequent fat storage) by either a) decreasing the amount of carbs we eat per day or b) inhibiting alpha-amylase, an enzyme in the body, which is required to break down carbs prior to there absorption.
3) Naturally occurring apha-amysalse inhibitors can be found in many fruits and vegetables, including the white bean!!
The article went on to show that when taken with high-carb foods, the white bean extract was found to reduce the amount of time it took for glucose levels to return to normal and promoted significant weight loss (~0.5 lbs/week) when compared to placebo.
But does it really work? Although the preliminary data looks promising in sedentary overweight individuals, one study revealed that taking this supplement as part of a weight loss program did not significantly enhance overall weight loss when compared to diet and exercise alone.
In conclusion, while it seems like exercise is the key to any successful diet…I can’t help feeling a bit better when I pair this homemade dip with snacks that have a higher carb count. Happy snacking!
- 1(15oz.) can of white beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 head of roasted garlic
- 2 Tbsp. Olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. Tahini
- ½ Tsp. Sea salt
- ½ Tsp. Cumin
- Juice from half a lemon
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until smooth.
Referenced article: Barrett and Udani. Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:24