Friday, March 4, 2011

New Series: Cheap Healthy Grub -- Lemon Cilantro Hummus

{This is a first in a periodic series on some of the healthy foods that I have conjured up recently.}

Ah, food!  How I love you. What a challenge you have become in recent times!

I’ll admit to having eaten and served a lot of unhealthy cheap food lately. The result is that I’ve come to a place where I crave healthy food. So I’ve been thinking about, looking for, and searching for cheap healthy foods in an effort to have the best of everything!

Grocery shopping on a limited budget quickly becomes a swirling array of multi-layered decisions and a great shuffling of pennies.  Many factors come into play to keep the total on the receipt at the checkout from being higher than the amount of money in the wallet. The budget grocery juggling act includes strategies like: buying smaller packages, buying generics, buying less healthy foods, buying lesser brands, foregoing items until a later date, and opting for cheaper substitutions. 
What ends up happening is that health considerations are sacrificed to the bottom line. My best example of this comes from the bread aisle. That wonderful, hearty 15-grain bread that I love to eat for breakfast with butter and sorghum costs $2.50 for a small loaf. A big, long loaf of generic white “wonder-less” bread costs 98 cents. If you want generic wheat bread (the soft kind that’s only 30% wheat flour and 70% white flour), you’ll pay $1.34. If you want generic whole wheat (all wheat flour), that will cost you $1.54. If I have to choose between buying two loaves of white bread for $1.96 or two loaves of whole wheat for $3.08, I often end up choosing the white because the $1.14 saved can buy something else (like a jar of spaghetti sauce or a package of noodles or two-three oranges or two pounds of bananas).

I think I've finally beaten a path around the grocery store enough to lead you on a little tour of some cheap, healthy grub!

I am starting this series with Lemon Cilantro Hummus.  I eat this almost every day!

Hummus is a traditional Middle Eastern dish made of chick peas (aka garbanzo beans).  It is massively healthy, very delicious, and quite inexpensive. We tend to get competitive over it in our house.  Everyone eats faster and faster because they’re afraid we’ll run out. But it’s easy to make more!   I love that generic garbanzo beans cost only 66 cents a can!

Lemon Cilantro Hummus

1 can garbanzo beans/chick peas (generic $.66 a can)
¼-1/2 cup liquid from the garbanzo beans
1 Tablespoon Tahini ($6 a jar and sometimes hard to find so I often substitute 1 teaspoon of sesame oil)
1 teaspoon olive oil (omit of you're using sesame oil in place of tahini)
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons lemon juice
½ teaspoon cumin
Blend in blender until smooth.
Top with lots of chopped cilantro (48 cents a bundle).

Serve with tortilla chips (generic $1.48), pita bread, or veggies (esp. carrots).


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