Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Trendy Bytes: Coconut water

Photo credit: L*u*z*A (Flickr)

I had my first sip of coconut water several years ago on the beautiful Saona Island in the Dominican Republic. My friend and I were hanging out on the beach when we noticed a vendor selling fresh-from-the-coconut water. My friend couldn't believe I hadn't tried it before, so she persuaded me to give it a go. My hopes were high for the stuff, but unfortunately, I was let down because it did not taste that great to me. I've tried it on a few occasions since wondering if I had it all wrong, and I must admit that I'm still not a convert. Still, coconut water is now taking the world by storm! I swear that nearly every grocery store I walk into lately has a special display of coconut water. I even noticed a very subtle product placement on the Top Chef finale for a particular brand of coconut water, which sparked my interest in writing this blog post.

So, why all the hype? Coconut water is natural, and that is a big draw for people when it comes to food and beverages today. It also has a long history, and people value that now, too. In fact, it's been used as a rehydration solution (think Pedialyte or IV fluids) in some parts of the world for years. It also might not hurt that celebrities, like Madonna, are going cuckoo over coconut water, too. Do a quick Google search for coconut water, and you'll probably see some recurring themes on the claims that are made for it. So let's wade through some of these claims and see if they make the cut.

Is it the best hydration beverage? Yes, coconut water can hydrate, but for most people, plain water is still a great thirst quencher for a lot less moola! The average 8-11 ounce container of coconut water costs about $2-3. To put that into perspective, that's approximately $32/gallon! A gallon of organic milk is about $6 and a gallon of gas averages about $2.75 in the U.S. In addition, plain water is calorie-free while 8 ounces of coconut water contains 46 calories, most of them from naturally-occurring plant sugars. But beware because some coconut waters actually have sugar added to them. So if you're looking to steer clear of those drinkable calories, you may want to reconsider the coconut water. You'll also find a good amount of sodium in coconut water, 252 mg per cup to be exact. So, if you're watching your sodium intake, you may not want to guzzle this stuff.

Touted as "nature's sports drink", companies selling coconut water also flaunt the fact that it has a nutrient profile similar to that of commercial sport beverages, such as Gatorade. Coconut water and sports drinks contain similar amounts of carbohydrate, so it could serve as a fuel source during activity. Coconut water also contains key electrolytes, especially potassium and sodium, that are essential for optimal physical performance and hydration during and after exercise. However, evidence suggests that coconut water is not necessarily more effective at rehydration than commercial sports drinks. Although coconut water companies praise their products for containing "15 times the amount of potassium for most sports drinks" or "more potassium than a banana", potassium is not the likely culprit for problems, such as muscle cramping, during activity. Sodium or water are really your guys there. Plus, I prefer to recommend consuming a variety of vegetables and fruits for potassium because you'll get that and a host of other important nutrients, such as fiber. For some competitive athletes with significant sweat losses during activity, the sodium content of coconut water may even be inadequate. For most individuals participating in low to moderate intensity physical activity for less than 60 minutes, water is a perfectly suitable choice before, during, and after the activity.

Will it boost immunity
? While a couple of studies have found antimicrobial and antifungal compounds in coconut water, I wouldn't rely on a daily dose of coconut water alone to avoid infectious or fungal illnesses for now.

Will it improve gastrointestinal health?
You may be surprised to find that a cup of coconut water actually contains about 2.6 g of fiber, which could add to your daily fiber intake and promote GI health. However, unless you get your coconut water fresh from the coconut, you probably won't get the fiber benefit given that commercial coconut waters do not contain fiber -- at least from what I've found. On the other hand, some preliminary research, in rats mind you, suggests that coconut water may have protective effects on stomach ulcers.

Does it promote cardiovascular health?
A couple of studies in rats found that supplementation with coconut water may have a cardioprotective effect by reducing total and LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels while raising HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Keep in mind that these studies were performed on rats, and there's still much to explore in terms of the effects on humans. In another small, short-term study, individuals with high blood pressure who drank two 300 mL servings of coconut water daily experienced some significant improvements in blood pressure. For now, there are plenty of other very effective, well-researched natural remedies, such as regular physical activity, for promoting heart health.

What's the bottom line?
Coconut water may not necessarily be as miraculous as the beverage companies that sell them would like you to believe. For most people, all-natural water remains a good hydration beverage for everyday activity as well as for physical activity. If you're going to do some moderate to vigorous exercise for more than an hour and prefer a natural source of sugar and electrolytes, then coconut water may work just as well as commercial sports drinks. There are obviously some possible health benefits associated with coconut water, but again, there are plenty of other foods that will also accomplish the same goals without the significant expense. If you enjoy coconut water, then it certainly is something that can be consumed as part of an overall nutritious diet.

Are you cuckoo for coconut water? What do you think of it?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Foodie Friday: Flower Egg in a Basket with Spinach and Tomatoes

Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

In search of something new and savory for breakfast, I recently turned to something old as it turns out...Egg in a Basket! I spotted the idea in one of my fave cookbooks Ellie Krieger's So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week. I tried her tasty version, Egg in a Basket with Turkey and Asparagus, but I decided to try my own spin-off. This was super simple, satisfying, and fun. My daughter was very excited once she saw me pull out the flower cookie cutter, too! It's a fun one to do with the kids, and you can really be creative with it. Enjoy!

Flower Egg in a Basket with Spinach and Tomatoes
Adapted from: Ellie Krieger So Easy: Luscious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Week, 2009.

4 slices 100% whole wheat bread
4 eggs
Olive oil cooking spray
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 to 3 inch cookie cutter (or even a glass)

  1. Use a 2 to 3-inch cookie cutter or the top of a glass to cut an opening in the center of each slice of bread. Save the cutouts.
  2. Heat olive oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Toss in garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add tomato halves and saute for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the spinach to the pan, about 1 cup at a time, and saute until wilted. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Remove from heat and transfer to a plate with foil cover to keep warm.
  3. Spray a large pan with olive oil cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Place two slices of bread and cutouts in the pan. Break one egg into the center hole of each slice of bread. Cook until the whites of the eggs are set, about 2-3 minutes. Gently flip the bread-egg and cutouts over and cook on the other side, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Repeat with the other bread slices, eggs, and cutouts.
  4. To serve, top each slice of bread with the spinach and tomatoes and serve the toasted cutout on the side.
*You can also serve this with no toppings or experiment with other toppings like a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese or the turkey-asparagus combo.

Serves: 4
Nutritional Information:
Calories: 219 Carbohydrate: 25 g Fat: 10 g Saturated fat: 2.4 g Monounsaturated fat: 4.2 g Protein: 11 g Cholesterol: 212 mg Fiber: 4 g Sugar: 5 g Sodium: 389 mg
Good source of: omega-3 fatty acid, thiamin, niacin, vitamin C and E, iron, potassium, and zinc.
Excellent source of: riboflavin, vitamin B6, B12, and A, folate, and magnesium.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Is physical activity 80% mental?

Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

I wish that I could say physical activity comes easy for me, but I'd be lying.  Because I'm a dietitian, it seems like some people believe that something in my genetic code makes me immune to having challenges with being physically active.  Unfortunately, that's wrong.  I've heard that they (whoever they is) say that physical activity is 80% mental.  I believe it!  In fact, a review of 50 studies involving modifying health-related behaviors, perceived barriers were identified as the most significant predictor of health behaviors.
A little over a year ago, I had my second little one.  When I was finally given the go ahead, I was eager to get back into running, something that I've enjoyed for years now.  Even though I wanted to run, I wasn't.  The more I thought about the logistics of running, the more I thought about the barriers to running, mostly physical.  The best time to run was going to be when it was just me and the kids. No husband, no sitter.  So that meant me pushing my 33 lb double-wide jogging stroller two kids weighing in at 40 lb and counting.  Then there was my route. The best route for me to take involved running on sidewalks that are sometimes uneven, curvy, and narrow.  And there is the big, long hill, and since what goes up must come down, that makes two hills!  Hills and I...we sometimes don't get along.  When I thought about running, these things came to mind, and all I could think was, "How was I going to push this heavy, hard-to-maneuver double jogger with two kids through this obstacle course?"

I continued to think "How?" for quite a while until one day I stopped.  I decided that I wanted to go on a run with the kids, got myself and the kids ready, and I just went.  As I faced each of those barriers that I'd mentioned before, I realized they weren't as bad as I'd made them out to be.  If I had uneven, curvy, or narrow paths, I took it slow.  When I came upon the hills, which basically has all of the above, I took it one step at a time and it was not bad at all!  Was it easy? No, but it definitely wasn't something I couldn't do.  What I realized is that all of those so-called physical barriers weren't physical at all.  They were perceived...psychological.

When facing these types of challenges in the past, one strategy that has often worked for me is the "Just do it!" strategy.  I just don't know what took me so long to do it this time;)  To quote Rick Warren, "Feelings follow action.  It's easier to act your way into a feeling than feel your way into an action."  So many times, when I just go for it, I feel more like going for it.  And I have. In fact, I added a third member to my running crew a little while now 10-month old boxer.  Yep, it's me, the kiddos, and my boxer going on runs together.  I never imagined this!  It makes me wonder what else is possible!

I thought I'd leave you with the following video about an amazing father and son -- Team Hoyt.  It is truly worth the watch.  What an inspiration! 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Trendy Bytes: Sprouted Grains

 Photo credit: (Flickr)

Sprouted grains are going mainstream these days. These used to be something that only "health nuts" consumed, but now I'm seeing more people purchasing sprouted grains or products made with sprouted grains, such as sprouted wheat, barley, millet, or spelt.  Some are even taking it a step further and sprouting their own grains at home.  You go!  Sprouting is not really a new concept. Hello -- alfalfa sprouts or bean sprouts!  So why has sprouting become so chic?  It's all about nutrition, baby!  More people are turning to whole foods for enhanced wellness and nutrition.  Sprouting fans claim that sprouted grains contain more high quality protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, a better balance of amino acids, more bioavailable nutrients, enzymes that enhance digestibility, and a lower glycemic index.  And doesn't the word sprout just sound so fresh and nutritious?  But just how well do these sprouted grains stack up nutritionally against their unsprouted counterparts?   Let's shake out the facts to see how the sprouting enthusiasts' claims compare to the evidence.

You may be asking yourself, "What are sprouted grains?". So let's start there. Sprouted grains are made by rinsing and soaking whole grains, like wheat, millet, barley, or oats, at various intervals over the course of a few days until the grains germinate or sprout.  Fresh sprouted grains are often used in sandwiches, wraps, or salads, but they can also be dried and ground for use in breads, pastas, and similar products. 

Do sprouted grains reign supreme in nutrient composition? Let's imagine you're going to eat a serving of sprouted wheat (1/2 c) and unsprouted wheat berries (1/4 c).   You will find that sprouted wheat has a modest edge over unsprouted wheat with a slightly higher content of select minerals (eg, calcium) and vitamins (eg, vitamin C).  Sprouted wheat also contains less carbohydrate, fiber, and protein along with slightly less fat and select minerals (eg, iron) and vitamins (eg, some B vitamins).  Values for many of the other nutrients are actually pretty comparable between the two.  Researchers acknowledge that while there are some nutritional gains made during the sprouting of grains, they are minor.  Studies in animals have failed to find significant benefits with consumption of sprouted vs unsprouted grains.  So, you'll find little evidence supporting the benefits of human consumption of sprouted grains over unsprouted grains.

Is the amino acid composition enhanced?  During sprouting, it appears that the content of certain amino acids increases.  However, sprouted grains still remain low in some amino acids, and the improved amino acid composition does not make sprouted grains a complete source of protein, like meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or soybeans. 

Are the nutrients more bioavailable?  Sprouting does reduce the amount of certain antinutrients, such as tannins or phytic acid, that bind to nutrients, such as minerals, thereby reducing their bioavailability.  This is certainly one advantage of sprouted over unsprouted grains.  However, it doesn't mean that unsprouted grains aren't nutritious, and consuming a diet that incorporates a wide variety of foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and high quality sources of protein, helps enhance overall intake of many nutrients. 

Does sprouting boost enzyme activity? Sprouting grains for a short time appears to increase enzymatic activity, which may improve digestibility of both the protein and carbohydrate.  However, that enzymatic activity would also decrease or cease with processing, cooking, storage time, and digestion.  

Do they have a lower glycemic index (GI)?  Some sprouted grain products do appear to have a lower glycemic index than unsprouted whole grain products.  This may be most useful to individuals with diabetes.  At the same time, many factors, such as meal composition, affect the GI of a food.  Also, it's best to consider the whole diet, rather than a single food, along with other factors, such as physical activity, when discussing ways to manage blood sugar levels.   
    What's the bottom line?  While there are nutritional differences between sprouted and unsprouted grains, many appear to be minimal. These differences will likely depend on the type of grain, the quality of the grain, the length of germination, processing, and preparation method of the grain.  Basically, when it comes to nutrition, I think we might be splitting hairs when comparing sprouted to unsprouted grains.  Also, remember that whole grains and sprouted grains are both going to be more nutritious options than refined grains. While they may not be as miraculous as proponents claim, experimenting with sprouted grains can be a fun way to add variety to your diet. So go ahead, try it! 

    Are you a sprouting enthusiast?  What are your favorite sprouted grains, legumes, or seeds?    

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    Foodie Friday: Harvest Apple Butter

    We're approaching fall, and while my all-time favorite season is summer, I must admit that fall comes in at a close second. I love the cool, crisp, fresh air that we get as we head into fall. It also reminds me of football season and the upcoming fall holidays.  I also love the seasonal foods and SMELLS of fall.  That brings me to today's recipe.

    Several weeks ago I was on Mission: Apple Butter -- thanks to my husband who made the request.  Even though I searched high and low, I could not find apple butter in any store.  I figured that it must be because it's not apple butter season yet.  So I set out to make my own. I've made pumpkin butter before, so apple butter couldn't be that much different.  And I love a food challenge!  What I love about this recipe is it is super easy!  It's also got a wonderful flavor and texture.  It will not be like any store bought apple butter. That's for sure!  And it is going to make your home smell like fall, and I really love that  part of it.  Enjoy this over whole grain toast, English muffins, pancakes, or waffles.  It also works well mixed into oatmeal or even yogurt.  Serve it alongside chicken or pork for dinner.  And, this sounds weird, but put a little dollop in your coffee, and it will instantly bring your coffee into the season!  Enjoy! 

    Harvest Apple Butter
    Adapted from:  Cooking Light 2004
    {Print this recipe}
    10 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into big chunks (I've used Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smith apples.  Experiment with different apples and have fun with it!)
    1/2 c brown sugar, packed
    1/4 c honey
    1/4 c apple cider
    1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
    1/4 tsp ground cloves
    1/8 tsp ground mace 

    1. Add all ingredients into a 4-5 quart crock pot.  Cover and heat on low for 10 hours or until the apples are tender throughout. This can be done overnight and would be perfect on a weekend.
    2. There are 2 options for the next step.  1)  Remove apples from the crock pot and allow to cool for a bit.  Puree in a blender or food processor in small batches until they are the consistency of a thin applesauce.  OR  2) Put a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl.  Place small portions of the apple mixture into the strainer. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press the mixture through the strainer.  Continue this process with the remaining apple mixture.  Discard leftover pulp.  I also discard the leftover juices from the crockpot before filling with the puree.
    3. Place the puree back into the crock pot and continue cooking uncovered on high for 1 1/2 hours or until the mixture is thick. Be sure to stir occasionally.
    4. Remove the apple butter from the crock pot and place into a large covered container or several smaller ones for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.  
    *You also have the option of storing these for longer in smaller jars for later use or to use as gifts.  To prime your jars, preheat your oven to 225F.  Put the jars only (I use 8 oz Kerr jars and it makes roughly 3 jars worth) on the baking racks in the oven for at least 20 minutes.  Then carefully remove from the oven.  Thoroughly clean the jar lids well in hot water and allow to fully dry.  Bring a large, deep pot of water to a boil.  Put apple butter into the jars within 1/4 inch from the top.  Clean the rim of each jar with a paper towel.  Tightly close each jar with a lid.  Carefully immerse each jar into the large pot of boiling water with tongs and boil for 10 minutes.  Voila, you now have jarred apple butter for future use or gifts.

    Serves: 48
    Nutritional Information (based on 1 Tbsp serving):
    Calories: 26.5   Carbohydrate:  7 g   Fat:  0 g   Protein:  0 g   Cholesterol:  0 mg  Fiber:  1 g   Sugar:  6 g   Sodium:  0.8 mg

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Foodie Friday: Grilled Alaskan Halibut with Fresh Mango Salsa

    Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

    When my family returned from Alaska this summer, we came back with some lovely Alaskan goodies.  One of those Alaskan goodies was some wild caught Alaskan halibut.  Thank you, Father-In-Law Loy!  I was excited because I tend to favor salmon when preparing fish dishes, so I welcomed the change.  I knew exactly how I wanted to serve this fish, too.  It was going to pair perfectly with a fresh, spicy mango salsa. I've served this mango salsa with fish before...mostly salmon.  It's very flavorful and so fresh tasting.  It's also very quick and easy to make.  So here's my simple halibut with a spicy kick!  Enjoy!

    Grilled Alaskan Halibut with Fresh Mango Salsa
    1 lb halibut (or other white fish)
    1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 small red onion, chopped
    Juice of 2 fresh limes
    1 large mango, peeled, pitted and chopped
    1 small red bell pepper, chopped
    1/4 c fresh cilantro, chopped
    1 garlic clove, minced
    Juice of 1/2 of a medium orange
    1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (If you like more heat, then keep the jalapeno intact.)

    1. Heat an outdoor grill over high heat. Drizzle the olive oil over the fish.  Then season with salt and pepper.  Grill the halibut for about 4 minutes on each side or until the fish is firm, but not tough, and cooked through.  
    2. In a large bowl, combine the red onion, lime juice, mango, red bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, orange juice, and jalapeno.  Stir well.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  
    3. Serve the fish topped with mango salsa.   Pair the fish with brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat couscous, or grilled whole wheat pita bread.  The salsa actually tastes very nice combined with any of these sides, too.
    *The salsa will keep covered and refrigerated for up to one day.  Serve leftover salsa in a wrap, as a salad topping, or over grilled chicken.

    Serves: 4
    Nutritional Information: 
    Calories:  250   Carbohydrate:  16 g   Fat:  10 g   Saturated fat:  1.4 g  Monounsaturated fat: 6 g   Protein:  25 g  Cholesterol:  36 mg    Fiber:  2.3 g   Sugar:  11.5 g  Sodium:  215 mg
    Good source of: omega-3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA), thiamin and riboflavin.
    Excellent source of:  niacin, vitamin B6, B12, C, D, A, E, magnesium, and potassium.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Spreading some yoga love

     Photo credit: Canon in 2D (Flickr)

    It's National Yoga Month, so Happy Yoga Month!  I thought I'd share some yoga love by telling you about my personal yoga experience.  Ever since I can remember, I've always been more of a "cardio" girl.  I've always preferred to "feel the burn" and sweat and raise my heart rate.  While I'd tried out yoga here and there in the past, I usually preferred to focus on doing my cardio thing or training for some event, like a marathon. However, over the last year or so I started to flirt with the idea of yoga more.  Something about it was just calling me.  I finally took the plunge last January when I was presented with an opportunity that this frugalista just couldn't refuse -- 5 weeks of unlimited yoga for half the usual price!  When I attended my first class, I must admit that I was somewhat nervous.  What yoga poses will we do?  Am I going to be able to do all of those funky yoga moves?  What I quickly realized, though, was that I didn't need to worry about any of these things.  What I learned is that yoga is about more than conquering amazing physical feats.  While my yoga practice has pushed me to incredible new places in terms of my flexibility, balance, strength and stamina, it has also motivated my growth in other ways.

    Yoga has helped me stretch my mind to create a more flexible way of thinking.  With yoga, I am encouraged to create a space free of expectations, worries, stresses, criticisms, judgments, comparisons, competitions, and tough love.   When we'd get to crow pose, maybe I'd try it and not get it. Maybe I'd try it and sustain it only a few seconds or maybe I did so for longer.  During yoga, I'm invited to practice with intention so that I am more observant and open to the possibilities.  Each possibility is okay.  There is no "right or wrong" or "do or die" or "no pain, no gain".  Yeah!  In the beginning, the more I practiced yoga, the more I also realized that many of the principles of yoga coincide with the philosophies that I've developed around food and eating. Hello -- mindful and intuitive eating!  So yoga has inspired me to expand these principles into more areas of my life.

    Yoga has also nourished me spiritually.  While some may shy away from the spiritual aspects of yoga, I embrace the opportunity to welcome God into my yoga practice...and beyond!  When I'm encouraged to open my heart center in various poses, I see it as my way of opening myself up to God...being grateful for all of his blessings and inviting him in to all that I do.  Talk about peace! 

    My experience with yoga has been incredibly surprising.  I had no idea what would be in store for me when I got started, but I think that continuing the practice beyond a few drop ins here and there has allowed me to experience more of what yoga has to offer.  I have never once dreaded going to yoga. Never!  And I don't monitor the clock wondering, "When is this going to be over?"  Unfortunately, I can't say the same about running or going to the gym.  I leave feeling refreshed, renewed, invigorated, peace!

    Given my experiences, I am not surprised to know that there has been a surge in the number of people practicing yoga over the last decade.  In fact, yoga is now often suggested as a complementary form of therapy for many conditions, including high blood pressure, arthritis, diabetes, chronic low back pain, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and more!  It also doesn't surprise me that eating disorder treatment programs now incorporate yoga as an adjunct therapy for anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating.  Even the Army is now incorporating yoga into their fitness training and rehab programs

    I know that some people are unsure about yoga because they're concerned that they're not fit or flexible enough, but in my experience, yoga is accessible to most anyone regardless of your level of fitness or age. That is the beauty of yoga.  It is what you allow it to be.  In writing this post, I must admit that I did it in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, it might inspire another to give yoga a try.  So I do hope that one of you lovely readers takes the yoga plunge, too...and please let me know about it!

    Interested in trying it out?
    • Many yoga centers offer free classes for newbies and while it's National Yoga Month, I know many places that are doing this. So take advantage!  
    • If you're looking for deals, like me, then you may want to check out Groupon for deals in your area. I've supported my yoga practice through a string of offerings through their daily deals.
    • If you're not sure about attending an actual class, you may want to test drive yoga in the comfort of your own home.  There are plenty of DVDs available for purchase, or you can rent them through Netflix, Blockbuster Online, or even your local library!  I've also explored a variety of yoga programs through the Free On Demand options through my local cable network (eg, Exercise TV On Demand).  And there are plenty of yoga clips and podcasts online that will help you practice some of the poses.  Check out this one from CorePower Yoga.
    Are you a fellow yogi?  What do you love about yoga?


    Friday, September 3, 2010

    Foodie Friday: Spicy Hummus

    Photo credit: Michelle Loy. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.!  Sometimes I like to leave the hummus-making to the pros.  My favorite is any almost any hummus from Mom's Specialty Foods, which I find at a booth at our local Huntington Beach Farmer's Market, or Trader Joe's hummus.  Sometimes I want hummus, but I don't have any on hand.  That's where this recipe comes in to play.  My friend, Tree, shared this with me many years ago, and it's still a fave of mine.  I can nearly make it at any time because I almost always have everything on hand.  It's super easy, and it's seriously tasty.  I love to pair this with whole wheat pita bread and have it as a snack or even for lunch.  Pair it with fresh vegetables, whole grain crackers, or even as a sub for mayo on a sandwich or in a wrap.  If you like spicy stuff, you'll love this.  Enjoy!

    Spicy Hummus
    From: Teresa C.
    1 c canned garganzo beans, drained and rinsed
    3 Tbsp plain yogurt
    1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
    Juice of 1/2 of a fresh lemon
    1/4 c fresh Italian parsley, chopped
    1 tsp cayenne pepper

    1. Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Using a hand blender or small food processor, blend until smooth.  Allow to chill for 2 hours so the flavors can blend.
    Serves: 4-8 (based on 2-4 Tbsp serving size)

    Nutritional Information (based on serving size of 2 Tbsp):
    Calories: 25   Carbohydrate:  5.7 g   Fat:  0.4 g   Protein:  2.1 g   Cholesterol:  0.17 mg  Fiber:  1.5 g   Sugar:  1 g   Sodium:  120 mg
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