By Arianne Corbett, RD, and Melissa MacKinnon, MPH, RD 2016-04-05 07:50:10
Hummus is surging in popularity, even in schools! Jazz up your offerings with both traditional and unique flavors of this Mediterranean dip. WHEN JANE COOKSON, RD, Foodservice director for Indianapolis Public Schools, added hummus to the menu, most students in her district seemed taken aback by the unexpected flavor. “We received comments along the lines of ‘this is funny tasting peanut butter!’” she recalls. These days, however, students actually clamor for the Mediterranean dip and spread, and just two years later, a hummus plate is a featured item on Indianapolis school lunch menus every single week. A Healthy Trend In 2006, only 12% of American households bought hummus. That figure today runs closer to 20%, and it’s rising, according to food trend trackers Baum and Whiteman. It’s not just at home where consumers are enjoying hummus; one survey found hummus featured on 14% of all restaurant menus nationwide, and 75% of Mediterranean menus. This is an important trend to watch, because as we know, students yearn for restaurant-like food in the lunchroom. “Mediterranean food has become more popular,” explains Brian Hofmeier, vice president of JTM Food Group. “Even on TV, if you watch the Big Bang Theory or a show like that, you used to see nothing but meat and potatoes. Now you see them eating Thai or Mediterranean.” Hofmeier stresses that children are growing up with more sophisticated palates and, therefore, requesting ethnic items on a regular basis. “Less than five years ago, I didn’t sell 1 pound of hummus—not an ounce!” he remarks. “In 2014, when it debuted [with JTM], I sold 13,000 pounds of hummus! Business doubled in 2015, and I think it will double again this year.” For many Americans, the dip/spread has become a regular addition to their diet. “Hummus is a versatile product that can be incorporated into everything from vegetarian sandwiches, wraps and salads to grab-and-go snacks and entrees,” reports Joe Rastetter, vice president of sales, Sager Creek Vegetable Company. “The added layer of excitement with this product is that it’s on the verge of exploding in popularity.” The Dish on Hummus An unfamiliar name and not particularly appealing appearance of hummus explains some of the reluctance of first-time tasters, as well as those “funny peanut butter” comments. However, hummus has been part of the Middle East’s culinary culture for thousands of years. The word “Hummus” comes from Arabic for chickpea, the dish’s main ingredient, which is also referred to as a “garbanzo bean.” Hummus itself is a Levantine Arab dip or spread that is made from cooked and mashed chickpeas, which are then blended with tahini (a sesame seed paste), olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt. Chickpeas are an ancient type of legume that have been cultivated throughout the Middle East and India for thousands of years. But many cultures around the globe claim their region is where hummus as a dish originated, making its exact origins unknown. The chickpea was consumed in ancient Palestine, and it was one of the earliest crops in Mesopotamia. Hummus was also a common food on the streets of ancient Rome. Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates even made reference to the nutritional value of hummus in their writings—so, clearly, the dish has a long history. Power-Packed Pulses This is the International Year of Pulses, according to the United Nations, but what exactly is a pulse? And how does it differ from a legume? All pulses are legumes, but not all legumes are pulses! The term “pulse” refers only to the dried seed—dry beans, peas, lentils and, yes, chickpeas. (The legume category, on the other hand, also includes fresh peas, peanuts, soybeans and alfalfa.) The majority of Americans eat far fewer servings of these foods than is advised by health and nutrition experts. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends increasing total vegetable intake from all vegetable subgroups (including legumes), so one strategy to achieve this goal with youngsters is the weekly vegetable sub-group requirements in the National School Lunch Program. As for the celebration of the Year of Pulses, the purpose is to use this promotional opportunity to educate audiences about legumes’ health benefits, their value toward improving food security across the globe and their role in creating sustainable food systems. “Pulses are important food crops for the food security of large proportions of populations, particularly in Latin America, Africa and Asia, where pulses are part of traditional diets and often grown by small farmers,” said the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano da Silva in an announcement. “They have been an essential part of the human diet for centuries. Yet, their nutritional value is not generally recognized and is frequently under-appreciated.” Legumes are packed with protein and healthy nutrients such as fiber, iron, and potassium. Hummus, with its added lemon juice and tahini, also provides a good source of vitamin C and healthy unsaturated fats. Serve hummus with bread, and it forms a complete protein, similar to other combinations of grains and legumes, such as rice and beans. No wonder hummus is touted for its health benefits! Student-Driven Menu Solutions As more and more students experience new (to them) cultural items outside of school walls, those trends naturally make their way into school cafeterias across the country. Among the many manufacturers and school meal operators currently producing and serving hummus, most will tell you the process has been customer-driven. “We started buying hummus when we had students and parents asking for it,” reports Chris Burkhardt, SNS, director of Child Nutrition and Wellness of Lakota Local School District, Liberty Township, Ohio. “Hummus is an item that kids in elementary either know and like, or it’s a battle to try,” he concedes. “But those who know it, love it!” And word is spreading. With more students requesting vegetarian options, new school regulations requiring legumes and school nutrition professionals seeking new healthy offerings, hummus stands out as an easy winner. “Legume literacy is increasing, and kids are food savvy,” says Michelle Markesteyn-Ratcliffe, vice president of sales and marketing for Truitt Family Farms. “Manufacturers need to respond to demand and schools need to be vocal [about] what their needs are!” Because it’s made from a protein-rich ingredient, hummus can be credited as a meat/meat alternate or a legume option, but not both in the same meal. Serve it as a standalone option in a vegetarian grab-and-go box, in a scoop on a salad plate, as a dip on a self-serve fruit and vegetable bar or cupped as a veggie option with vegetable sticks popped right in. Some schools even use hummus a condiment replacement on sandwiches and wraps! “One of my cafeteria employees created a Mediterranean wrap recipe. We have been making it for eight years!” exclaims Jackie Morgan, director of Food Services, Milton (Mass.) School District. Hummus serves as the meat/meat alternate in the wrap, which also contains flavorful ingredients such as tabbouleh salad and feta cheese. “We have 17 [entrée] choices a day in the cooler at the high schools,” she reports. “And we sell out [of the hummus wraps]!” This item helps draw teacher participation, as well. Back in Indianapolis, “All students are offered a cold plate containing hummus, cheese stick and assorted vegetables as an entrée choice on Fridays,” says Cookson, who reports that in this dish, the hummus credits as a meat/meat alternate. At the secondary level, “We serve hummus one time a week as a dip with fresh vegetables,” she explains. This time, hummus receives credit as a legume. Find the Fit Naturally, as hummus grows in popularity, manufacturers are coming up with new options, both in flavor varieties as well as in how it’s packed and sold. Hummus now comes premade in bulk, both in shelf-stable options and frozen, while dipping cups provide individual portions for pairing with vegetables, pretzels or pita. Common flavors may range from a classic “Mediterranean-style” to those that add some zest with garlic, red pepper, chipotle and those that add other complementary flavors, including rosemary, olives, spinach, tomato, basil and more. While commercial products can offer operators time and labor savings, homemade hummus is a recipe that can be managed by many school sites, even those with limited prep equipment. Using dry or canned garbanzo beans, it’s simple to whip up a batch from scratch. Flavor add-in options are almost endless (and tahini is optional!) Morgan’s staff uses USDA Foods chickpeas and USDA Foods sunflower seed butter (processed by SunButter) to create the hummus used in her operation’s Mediterranean wraps. “We have one less allergen [to worry about] by taking out the tahini,” she notes, as children allergic to sesame seeds must avoid this ingredient. By using her USDA Foods allowance for these ingredients, she has also created a low-cost protein source for her menu. If your students aren’t familiar with hummus, implement a marketing promotion to get kids interested. At Lakota Public Schools, Burkhardt originally introduced hummus back in 2008 as a prepackaged item, but found it to be cost-prohibitive at that time. He set out to develop a new district recipe through a contest among his school kitchen teams. “We worked with all 22 kitchens in the district and asked the managers to create a hummus from scratch,” he recalls. “They were given a case of beans and were told they could use anything in their kitchen to make it. They all came up with variations…red pepper, fruited hummus with pineapple, even more off-the-wall types!” The district staff selected the top four recipes and took them to the students for final approval. “One spicy and one mild were selected. Our goal was to have both options available at secondary levels and the non-spicy variety at the elementary sites. Our winners became the standard district hummus recipes!” Burkhardt recounts with enthusiasm. Last year in a contest rematch, a Mexican spiced hummus with jalapeños won out. Look Local Bertrand Weber, director of Culinary and Nutrition Services, Minneapolis (Minn.) Public Schools (MPS), found inspiration for his district’s hummus recipe while dining at a local restaurant that is a member of the MPS True Food Chef Council, a partnership with the local culinary community. This group works with Weber’s department to teach children culinary skills, develop recipes and promote healthy eating. “My wife and I eat all around the Twin Cities at our True Food Chef Council restaurants. One day, I tried the beet hummus at Wise Acre Eatery and knew it would be our next True Food Taste Test,” recalls Weber. With the restaurant’s recipe in hand, Weber and his staff worked together to create a school nutrition version of the electric pink hummus that features beets as the star ingredient. Andrea Northup, MPS farm to school coordinator, explains the True Food Taste Test: “Minneapolis schools have a taste testing program three time per year. We offer a new dish with the goal of exposing students to new things. Forty-five schools participate, and 18,000 kids get a sample!” she says. Beet hummus proved to be a perfect recipe for the taste test, given children’s general lack of experience with both beets and hummus. To ease student concerns, Northup and Weber featured a small cup of the hummus paired with a more familiar item. “When we did our original taste test, we used a whole-grain corn chip from a local manufacturer; next time we used carrot and celery sticks. Now, they grab those straight off of the salad bar!” says Weber. To build even more student buy-in, True Food Taste Tests also feature contests to name the new recipes. A sixth-grader at one of the district middle schools created the winning name, and “UnBEETable Hummus” was born. Promising Promotions Whether looking to spice up a menu, introduce students to something new or add a new vegetarian entrée, hummus may be the right choice for your district. But as with any new food item, you’ll need to harness the power of positive promotion. Toss a big, brown serving pan filled with hummus to school lunch line, and you’ll likely have very few children adventurous enough to give the unappetizing presentation a try. But with the right marketing hooks, along with some surefire flavor profile and food combinations, you will find better success in introducing hummus to your student population (and you might find your next best-seller!) As hummus becomes more of a mainstream food, it will capture increased attention and acceptance among your students. Don’t be afraid to give it a try through sampling activities. By adding hummus to your menus, you just may find yourself with a tasty, versatile, crowd-pleaser. Kitchen Wisdom says . . . Try This SWEET POTATO HUMMUS YIELD: 28 (½cup each) PER SERVING: 176 cal., 3.67 g fat, 5.17 g pro., 31.9 g carb., 5.7 g fiber, 384.8 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN: 1⁄8 cup red/orange vegetable and ¼cup beans/legumes or 1-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate INGREDIENTS 85 ozs. Canned, light syrup-packed sweet potatoes 70 ozs. Canned garbanzo beans/chickpeas 1 cup Orange juice 1/3 cup Sunflower seed butter ½ cup Reduced-sodium soy sauce 4 ½ tsps. Ground cumin 4 ½ tsps. Coriander seed 4 ½ tsps. Ground ginger 4 ½ tsps. Dry mustard 4 ½ tsps. Garlic powder 1 1/3 tsps. Salt DIRECTIONS 1) Drain the canned sweet potatoes and place them in a large stand mixer bowl. 2) Drain the chickpeas and puree them in batches in a food processor until they’re the consistency of a thick paste. Add the puree to the sweet potatoes. 3) Add the remaining ingredients (orange juice, sunflower seed butter, soy sauce, cumin, coriander, ginger, dry mustard, garlic powder and salt) to the mixer bowl. Mix with a paddle attachment on medium speed until well blended, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Note: Creamy SunButter® Sunflower Spread can be used in this recipe. KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS . . . • Without liquid, blending the chickpeas into a puree can be very difficult. The orange juice can be used to help loosen the mixture and make blending easier. Instead of draining, you also can use the liquid from the canned chickpeas. • Putting small amounts of dried spices in a large batch can lead to inconsistent distribution of flavors. Make sure to mix thoroughly or combine all spices together and add slowly as you mix. • We made this in a Vertical Cutter/Mixer (VCM), and the consistency came out very nice and creamy. • This recipe went over well. It tasted good with the vegetables, but was also good with baked tortilla chips. • The texture of hummus can be a little challenging with students. Some were not sure of the color, but those who already liked hummus liked this recipe. There were a number of seasonings to add, but the combination worked well for the flavor. Students that also liked sweet potatoes really liked it the best. HUMMUS AND VEGGIE BAGEL SERVINGS: 100 PER SERVING: 369 cal., 13.2 g fat, 17.59 g pro., 44.76 g carb., 540 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN: ¼cup other vegetables, 2-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 2-oz.-eq. grain or ¼cup other vegetable, ¼cup beans/legumes, 1.5-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate and 2-oz.-eq. grain INGREDIENTS 1 #10 can Canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained ½ cup Vegetable oil 2 Tbsps. Garlic powder 1 ½ cups Lemon juice 2 Tbsps. Black pepper 1 cup Water 2 lbs, 8 ozs. Bell peppers, sliced 3 lbs. Zucchini 4 lbs. Onions, sliced 3 lbs. Yellow squash, sliced 10 lbs. Swiss cheese, sliced ¾-oz. each slice) 100 Whole grain-rich bagels (2 oz. each) DIRECTIONS 1) Combine the chickpeas/garbanzo beans, oil, garlic powder, lemon juice, black pepper and water in a food processor. Process until mixture is pureed to make 1 qt. of hummus. 2) Place the sliced vegetables (bell peppers, zucchini, squash and onions) on a sheet pan and roast at 400°F until browned. 3) Remove from oven, cover and chill to 41°F or below. 4) To assemble the sandwiches, spread 2 Tbsps. of hummus on each side of the bagel. Add 1.5 ozs. Swiss cheese and ¼cup roasted vegetables. Place bagels on a sheet pan, cover and refrigerate at 41°F or below until service. Serve chilled. Recipe: Howard County (Md.) Public Schools, www.hcpss.org Meal pattern analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.facebook.com/evolutionofthelunchlady, @chefsharonsns KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS . . . • We served this as a grab-and-go meal option at our high school and middle school. We used veggies we had on hand (peppers, onions and tomatoes). Any veggies make this a delicious meal. • We also used an “everything” bagel, which gave the sandwich a little extra flavor. • If you need to make them the day ahead, build a beautiful bagel and hummus box. We use 8x8 clear plastic “to-go” containers and fill with a wrapped bagel, #16 scoop of hummus, cut cheese and veggies. It’s beautiful! EDAMAME HUMMUS SERVINGS: 100 (¼cup each) PER SERVING: 111 cal., 7 g fat, 7 g pro., 6 g carb., 3 g fiber, 105 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN: ¼cup beans/legumes or 1-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate INGREDIENTS 10 lbs. Frozen edamame 1 lb., 6 ozs. Tahini 2 cups Fresh lemon juice 2 cups Water 2 Tbsps., 2 tsps. Ground cumin 2 Tbsps., 2 tsps. Minced garlic 1 Tbsp., 1 tsp. Salt DIRECTIONS 1) Steam frozen edamame in a full-size perforated steam pan for approximately 5 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Chill immediately to 41°F or below. 2) Working in batches, place half of the cooked and chilled edamame into the bowl of a 3-qt. food processor. Add half of the tahini (11 ozs.), lemon juice (1 cup), water (1 cup), and half amounts each (1 Tbsp., 1 tsp.) of the cumin, garlic and salt. Puree until very smooth. 3) Remove the hummus from the food processor into a food storage container. 4) Repeat Steps 2 and 3 with remaining ingredients. Stir the batches together to combine. 5) Serve ¼cup using a #16 scoop. Recipe, photo and meal pattern: NORPAC School Foodservice Recipe Guide, www.norpac.com KITCHEN WISDOM SAYS . . . • The hummus was excellent, and the color is beautiful. Edamame is a little pricey, but it is a really good alternative for something other than regular hummus. • We added 2 cups of plain Greek yogurt to the recipe and left the water the same. It made the hummus creamier and moister. • It was difficult to make, as the edamame needed to be well-blended to make the texture smoother. A VCM would help to make it in a large batch. STRAWBERRY HUMMUS PITA SANDWICHES SERVINGS: 24 PER SERVING: 234 cal., 5 g fat, 18 g pro., 30 g carb., 6 g fiber, 568 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN: 3⁄8 cup fruit, ¼cup beans/legumes, ¼ cup other vegetable, 1-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate, 2-oz.-eq. grains or 3⁄8 cup fruit, ¼cup other vegetable, 2-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate and 2-oz.-eq. grains INGREDIENTS FOR THE SANDWICH 24 each Whole-grain pitas (2-oz. grain-eq.) 6 cups Cooked, shredded chicken 1 ½ cups Red onions, thinly sliced 3 cups Cucumber, sliced 3 cups Medium strawberries, hulled and sliced 12 cups Shredded lettuce 1 ½ cups Feta cheese, crumbled INGREDIENTS FOR THE HUMMUS 6 cups Hulled, quartered strawberries 2 lbs, 11.5 ozs. Canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained 1 Tbsp. Lemon juice ¾ tsp. Ground black pepper 1 ½ tsps. Kosher salt DIRECTIONS 1) To make the hummus, place strawberries, chickpeas/garbanzo beans, lemon juice, pepper and salt in the work bowl of a food processor. Blend until very smooth. This makes approximately 12 cups of hummus. 2) Spread ¼cup strawberry hummus inside each pita half. 3) Stuff each pita with ¼ cup chicken, 1 Tbsp. red onion, 1⁄8 cup cucumbers, 1⁄8 cup strawberries, ½cup lettuce and 1 Tbsp. feta. Recipe and photo: California Strawberries, www.californiastrawberries.com Meal pattern analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.facebook.com/evolutionofthelunchlady, @chefsharonsns FRESH WALNUT HUMMUS SERVINGS: 100 (½cup each) PER SERVING: 303 cal., 24 g fat, 7.9 g pro., 5.2 g fiber, 242.8 mg sod. MEAL PATTERN: ¼cup beans/legumes and 1-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate INGREDIENTS 6 lbs., 4 ozs. Walnuts 2 ½ #10 cans Garbanzo beans/chickpeas 1 qt., 2 ¼ cups Lemon juice 1 qt., 2 ¼ cups Italian salad dressing 1 qt., 2 ¼ cups Water 1 cup, + 2 Tbsps. Garlic powder ½ cup, + 1 tsp. Crushed red pepper flakes DIRECTIONS 1) Drain the garbanzo beans/chickpeas. 2) Set up a 6-qt. food processor with an S blade. 3) Prepare the recipe in five equal batches. First, place 1 lb., 4 ozs. walnuts at the bottom of the food processor bowl. Add half a #10 can of drained garbanzo beans/chickpeas. Add 1 ¼ cup Italian dressing, 1 ¼cup lemon juice, 1 ¼cup water, 3 Tbsps. garlic powder and 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsps. crushed red pepper flakes. Cover and blend for three minutes. 4) Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover and blend for one additional minute. 5) Empty the hummus from the food processor bowl into a food storage container. 6) Repeat for four additional batches; each batch will yield 2.5 quarts for a total of 12.5 quarts. 7) Refrigerate overnight to meld flavors. 8) Serve ½cup of nutty hummus with fresh vegetables and whole-grain choices. Recipe and photo: California Walnuts, www.walnuts.org Meal pattern analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.facebook.com/evolutionofthelunchlady, @chefsharonsns PLUMMUS SERVINGS: 26 (1⁄3 cup each) PER SERVING: 91 cal., 3.5 g fat, 3 g pro., 13.7 g carb., 3 g fiber MEAL PATTERN: 1⁄3 cup beans/legumes or 1.5-oz.-eq. meat/meat alternate INGREDIENTS 3 lbs., 12 ozs. Canned garbanzo beans/chickpeas ½ cup Tahini ¼ cup, 2 Tbsps. Dried plum puree ½ cup, 2 Tbsps. Lemon juice 2 tsps. Minced garlic 1 ½ tsps. Salt ½ tsp. Paprika ¼ tsp. Cayenne pepper DIRECTIONS 1) Drain the garbanzo beans/chickpeas, reserving the liquid. 2) Add the garbanzo beans and liquid to a blender or food processor. Add the tahini, dried plum puree, lemon juice, garlic, salt and spices. Blend until smooth. 3) Serve with crackers, pita or vegetables. Recipe and photo: Leslie Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN/California Dried Plum Board, www.californiadriedplums.org Meal pattern analysis: Chef Sharon Schaefer, SNS, www.facebook.com/evolutionofthelunchlady, @chefsharonsns Photo, recipe and meal pattern analysis: SunButter Sunflower Spread, www.sunbutter.com BONUS WEB CONTENT Hummus isn’t the only way to menu chickpeas in school meals. For other creative ideas, as well as a recipe for Minneapolis Public Schools’ UnBEETable Hummus, head online to www.schoolnutrition.org/snmagazine bonus TO YOUR CREDIT: For CEUs toward the SNA Certification in School Nutrition, complete the “To Your Credit” test on page 66. Arianne Corbett is managing director of Leading Health, LLC, in Tampa, Fla., and a former manager of nutrition advocacy at SNA. Melissa MacKinnon is a freelance writer and dietitian based in Tampa, Fla.
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