Independence Day commemorates the establishment of Israel as an independent Jewish state. This inspirational declaration was announced on May 14, 1948 by the Jewish leadership, led by future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.
Israelis take great pride in celebration this monumental event, as do Jews across the globe. In addition to parades, prayers and fireworks, Yom Ha'atzmaut typically includes festivals and barbecues replete with traditional Israeli fare.
A Mediterranean favorite that serves as a staple in Israel, hummus has gained popularity in the Unites States as well. A tasty and versatile side dish, hummus is packed with a variety of nutritional benefits.
The basic ingredients are chickpeas, olive oil and sesame seeds (tahini), all of which possess the healthy fats our bodies need, as well as offering a wide array of vitamins and minerals. Hummus is a plant-based protein source, making it an ideal choice for vegetarians.
Chickpea fiber helps facilitate the growth of the healthy gut bacteria which keep us “regular” as it provides quality nourishment for the cells in our intestinal tract. Naturally gluten-, dairy-and nut-free, hummus easily caters to the growing number of individuals living with such allergies and intolerances. Its low glycemic index allows for a slower release of glucose into our bloodstream, a quality of great importance to diabetics.
The combination of protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber make hummus a perfect snack either before or after a workout. Carry a small container in your gym bag, along with raw veggies and pita triangles for dipping.
If you have never experienced this delicacy, grocery stores carry a dazzling variety of flavors. A few of my new favorites appeared around Thanksgiving: pumpkin hummus and cranberry hummus! If you want to experiment with the basic ingredients before exploring other delicious variations, it is easily prepared at home.
This recipe for Hummus hails from Avi Turgeman, Executive Chef at the upscale David Citadel hotel in Jerusalem. Having spent several nights there, I can thoroughly vouch for how delicious this is, as Chef Avi’s hummus made a regular appearance on the daily buffet.
- 2.2 lbs. small chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 2½ cups tahini
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 13.5 oz chickpeas cooking liquid
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 1½ teaspoons lemon juice
- Soak the chickpeas in water for 24 hours.
- Drain and add fresh water, add the teaspoon of baking powder, and cook the chickpeas (covered until) soft, about 90 minutes on a low flame.
- Drain the chickpeas and reserve the hot liquid.
- Place all ingredients in a blender and grind at medium speed to a smooth, homogeneous texture. Serve the hot hummus with a little olive oil sprinkled on top. Enjoy on wraps, sandwiches or as a tasty dip to complement pita bread.
This year, be prepared for your Israeli Independence Day celebration with plenty of healthy hummus on hand. A day as special as Yom Ha'atzmaut deserves this extra-special treat!
Cathleen Kronemer, NSCA-CPT, Certified Health Coach, is a longtime fitness instructor at the Jewish Community Center. She is also a member of the St. Louis Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.