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Cooking With Myra: Healthy dip is made out of ground chick peas, sesame seeds

March 8, 2011 at midnight
Updated March 7, 2011 at 9:08 p.m.

Miles' Homemade Hummus

Miles' Homemade Hummus

1 tsp. cumin seeds

3 garlic cloves

1/4 cup tahini paste

Pinch of cayenne pepper

Kosher salt to taste

Juice of 11/2 lemons

2 cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and washed

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2

Toast cumin seeds in a skillet until they are fragrant and dark, about one minute. Place in mortar and pound with a pestle until seeds are ground into a powder. Add garlic cloves to mortar and continue to mash together until they form a paste. Scrape into a food processor and add tahini paste, cayenne, salt, juice of lemons and chick peas. Pulse a few times and then add the olive oil in a steady stream as you pulse. Add the water last, beginning with 1/2 cup, continue to add water until dip reaches the right consistency. You may not need all of the water. The texture will be smooth, but the hummus will be similar to batter. Add more salt and pepper to taste. It will thicken when refrigerated. To serve, spread it in a bowl and drizzle with oil and sprinkle with cayenne. Serve with pita chips, carrots, cucumbers, celery and tomatoes.

Hummus is high in iron and vitamin C and has large amounts of folate and vitamin B6. Chickpeas are a good source of protein and fiber. Tahini consists mostly of sesame seeds, which are an excellent source of the amino acid methionine.

By Myra StarkeyLast weekend, Miles, our oldest son, came home to check on his ailing mother.

As you know from last week, I had some "scratch and dent" (scar revision) surgery, and he wanted to make sure I was still in one piece.

He did find me recovering nicely and at about 90 percent back to full speed.

The real story is that he is on his way to Florida with friends for spring break and chose to spend a few days with his parents/sponsors before the trip.

It is wonderful for us to have any of our kids come back to see us. Clothes to wash, meals to prepare or late nights chatting are worth it just to spend some time with them. When they were here all the time, before they left for college, I think I just took our kids for granted, and perhaps, they took us for granted. Things have changed and now I view these moments as more precious.

I talked with Miles about his studies at Baylor. He is graduating in May with a degree in graphic design. He is living in limbo in that time when you are finishing your degree, don't yet have a job and realize you will soon be expected to pay your own bills. That seems like a scary thing in today's economy.

And feel free to give me a call if you know of anyone who is looking to hire a graphic designer.

We reminded him that all "birds" leave the nest and he seems to have no qualms about flying . I just hope he lands somewhere near home.

I hosted a family dinner on Friday night since Taylor's sister, Marsella, and her husband, Tim, were in town. Loree and Mike, one of his other sisters and her husband, and Taylor's parents came over to eat Shrimp and Grits. This type of dish is really easy for a Cajun, even if she is recovering from surgery.

Everyone pitched in with the chopping of the onions, bell peppers and tomatoes, so it was an easy meal to prepare.

L'nell, Taylor's mom, had prepared a pecan pie for dessert.

It was truly a family feast. I cannot imagine a more wonderful way to spend an evening than in the company of those you love.

Our conversation was filled with laughter and remembrances of past times spent together.

I asked Miles what he would like me to cook over the weekend and he replied, "hummus." That seemed like a strange request to me since hummus is a healthy dip made out of ground chick peas and sesame seeds.

Miles is spending more time at the gym and trying out a healthier lifestyle. I don't think he has totally given up hot dogs and macaroni and cheese, but he is adding vegetables to his daily diet, so I was happy to oblige him.

We prepared the recipe together, so he can make his own at college instead of buying the expensive stuff at the grocery store.

By Sunday night, he made an additional request of chicken noodle soup, and even though he had nothing more than a slight cough, he thought he already felt better by the end of the bowl. Of course, you don't have to be sick to enjoy chicken soup.

I am not convinced that foods can totally heal you, but I do know that adopting a healthy diet may lower your cholesterol and that cutting carbs and losing weight can control diabetes.

It is surprising to me that folks who have serious health concerns will not give up "bad foods" in favor of delicious fruits and vegetables. I don't totally understand the addiction of carbs and sweets, but I assume that if my life depended on it, I could change my ways.

Most of us have heard the advice that shopping the perimeter of the store is the healthy way of shopping, since proteins and vegetables are located near the outside walls and all the "bad" stuff is located toward the center. Of course, the ice cream is next to the milk, so maybe there are exceptions.

I don't pretend to be someone who eats healthy all the time. I have moments when I crave scones with butter or a piece of chocolate cake or maybe even salsa and chips. But I try not to make a habit of eating too much of these foods.

The older I get, the more illness I see in my friends and parents and wonder if some of these diseases could have been prevented.

So, when Miles asks me to make hummus, I welcome the opportunity.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail myra@vicad.com.

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