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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Is hummus a good snack?

I like hummus and I would like to add that to my snack with raw carrots between meals. Do you recommend that? If not, what can be a successful replacement?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

a bowl of hummus with sliced carrots and celery sticks

Hummus is one of those dishes that is fantastic for you because it is made with such great ingredients. The traditional recipes call for garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and tahini (sesame oil). Those who follow Dr. Gourmet columns know how much I love legumes like chickpeas as well as using monounsaturated oils like the sesame oil.

That said, traditional hummus recipes use a lot of tahini and can have a lot of calories. This is especially true with pre-prepared hummus that you buy in the grocery store. Two tablespoons have about 50 calories as a rule of thumb. A handful of carrots and some hummus and you've racked up 250 calories as a snack before you know it. Great quality calories and much better than chips and dip, but for those working on weight loss this can create a challenge.

There are hummus recipes on the Dr. Gourmet website that are really easy to make and use the tahini as a flavoring but not a base. As a result they are much lower in calories.

You can find the recipes here:
Black Bean Hummus
Black Eyed Pea Hummus
Curried Hummus
Porcini Hummus
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Smoked Paprika Hummus
Roasted Acorn Squash Hummus

In short, hummus is a great choice as a snack, but like all foods, it does contain calories (even when they're good calories).

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet