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Hummus-like substance

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I made this in my 3.5qt Kitchenaid foood processor:

1/4 cup almond butter
juice of 1 lemon (a fairly juicy one)

Process for a minute. It will get very thick. Add:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
about 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, sliced (whole garlic may not get processed)
3 thick scallions cut into 1″ lengths (including leaves)
1 large jalapeño, top cut off but with core and seeds, sliced
about 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
about 1/3 teaspoon cayenne
a good dash of hot sauce (I used Louisiana Hot Sauce)
a good dash of Worcestershire sauce

Process another minute. Add:

1 can no-salt-added garbonzo beans, rinsed, 1/2 can at a time

Process for about a minute for each half can.

Pretty tasty. And it checks both bean and nut boxes in the Daily Dozen.

Written by Leisureguy

27 October 2020 at 7:18 pm

Hummus treat

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I read a guy’s comment on how he didn’t much care for the idea of a whole-food plant-based diet because he thought it was important to have a treat now and then.

I’m missing something. I have treats regularly — for one thing, the three pieces of fruit and the bowl of berries I eat every day seem like treats to me. And just now I made myself a batch of hummus. I used my basic recipe, but this time I added some cayenne pepper and a scallion along with the garlic and ground cumin, the scallion cut into sections. I also used about 80% tahini and 20% almond butter (since I had it on hand after buying it for the “nice cream” treat).

And now that I’m enjoying the treat, I think next time I’ll add either a jalapeño (and perhaps a dash of liquid smoke) or a chipotle in adobo from a can.

No treats? What was he thinking?

Written by Leisureguy

14 September 2020 at 3:32 pm

Hummus with serrano pepper

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I made a batch of this hummus — and because of what I recently learned about contamination of chickpeas/garbanzos, I was careful to use organic canned garbanzo beans. The only change I made to the recipe at the link is that, along with the garlic, I added one serrano pepped, halved lengthwise and then cut across in little chunks.

The result is a little spice, but not too much (probably because of the oils in the recipe: tahini and olive oil.

Written by Leisureguy

2 August 2020 at 1:58 pm

Alas, hummus! Contamination in most hummus

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A press release from the Environmental Working Group:

Independent laboratory tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group found glyphosate, the notorious weedkiller linked to cancer, in more than 80 percent of non-organic hummus and chickpeas samples, and detected at far lower levels in several organic versions.

Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world. It was sold for decades by Monsanto, now Bayer AG, under the brand name Roundup. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified glyphosate a probable human carcinogen, and the state of California lists it as chemical known to cause cancer.

One-third of the 27 conventional hummus samples exceeded EWG’s health-based benchmark of 160 parts per billion, or ppb, for daily consumption, based on a 60-gram serving of hummus (about four tablespoons). The Environmental Protection Agency’s woefully inadequate legal limit for glyphosate in chickpeas, known as a tolerance level, is 5,000 ppb, or more than 30 times EWG’s benchmark.

The conventional hummus product with the highest level of glyphosate – more than 2,000 ppb in Whole Foods Market Original Hummus – was nearly 15 times the EWG benchmark. Overall, 10 hummus samples exceeded EWG’s benchmark for glyphosate: three samples of Sabra Classic Hummus; Sabra Roasted Pine Nut Hummus; two sample of Whole Foods Market Original Hummus; Whole Foods Market organic-label Original Hummus; Cava Traditional Hummus; and two samples of Harris Teeter Fresh Foods Market Traditional Artisan Hummus.

EWG also tested 12 samples of organic hummus and six samples of organic chickpeas. All but two contained detectable concentrations of glyphosate. Although glyphosate levels in organic samples were much lower than those of their conventional counterparts, one dry chickpea sample had the highest glyphosate concentration of all samples tested in the study.

“Beans, peas and lentils are a nutritious, affordable source of protein and an important part of the American diet,” said Olga V. Naidenko, Ph.D., EWG’s vice president for science investigations. “These excellent foods would be much better without glyphosate. Toxic weedkiller should never be allowed to contaminate these products, or any other foods, that millions of American families eat every day.”

The beans and bean-based products such as hummus tested in the study were purchased online or at major food retailers in the Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas, including Aldi, Costco, Giant, Harris Teeter, Safeway, ShopRite, Target, Trader Joes, Walmart and Whole Foods grocery stores.

Glyphosate was first brought to market in 1974, but its use exploded after 1996, when Monsanto introduced genetically modified “Roundup Ready” crops that were resistant to the herbicide. For consumers, most worrisome is use of the chemical on beans and grains as a drying agent just before harvest. This spraying can lead to high levels of glyphosate in beans, hummus, oat cereals and other foods.

By law, organic farmers are not allowed to spray Roundup or other toxic pesticides to grow and harvest crops. The detections of glyphosate on the organic samples may be due to pesticide drift from conventional crop fields or contamination at processing and packaging facilities.

“Organic foods, including organic hummus and chickpeas, remain a better choice for consumers,” said EWG Toxicologist Alexis M. Temkin, Ph.D. “EWG testing of both conventional and organic bean products for glyphosate helps increase the transparency in the marketplace and protect the integrity of the Department of Agriculture’s organic certification.”

Hummus and chickpeas, as well as other beans, offer multiple nutritional benefits, and are an important part of a healthy diet. EWG’s findings show the need for a ban on pre-harvest uses of glyphosate, a much stricter EPA standard, and increased testing by the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration for this cancer-causing chemical in the American diet.

EWG’s research on beans and hummus builds on EWG’s tests of oats and oat-based products for glyphosate, which found the weedkiller in nearly every sample of cereal and breakfast bars tested.


The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.


Written by Leisureguy

15 July 2020 at 8:49 am

A hummus-y dip

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I put this in a comment this morning, and since I think the recipe sounds good, I thought I’d share, especially since I just made it:

1/2 cup walnuts
1 lemon with skin cut off and discarded

I’m now practiced at preparing the lemon. I cut off and discard the ends, then halve the lemon at the equator. I put the two halves on the cutting board, large side down, and cut down around each piece, removing the peel is slabs. I don’t worry about the sides, just toss the two halves into the food-processor bowl along with the 1/2 cup of walnut pieces.

I use my little Kitchenaid food processor and blend well for 1 full minute or more, until walnuts are definitely paste. (This corresponds to the tahini and lemon juice of hummus.) The 1/2 cup of walnuts worked well, but you could use a walnut or two more. Then add:

2 tablespoons macadamia-nut oil (excellent omega-6 to omega-3 ratio: 1:1)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped (no need to mince)
optional for spicy: 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped (including core and seeds) or 2 serrano peppers chopped
optional for another kind of spicy: 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger root

Process that for a minute. You have to chop the garlic a bit since otherwise a clove is streamlined enough that sometimes they escape the blade.

Add 1 can drained and rinsed garbanzo beans (or black beans) in two batches, processing well after each addition. Then add:

1 tablespoon vinegar (apple cider, malt, red wine, sherry, whatever)

And process a minute more. I used sherry vinegar today.

No salt, of course.

As I noted yesterday, I’ve found that slices of daikon radish work extremely well to dip up bites of hummus. (I use my Swissmar V-slicer‘s “thick” plate — the “thin” slices lack sufficient rigidity.)

Another thought is to use toasted sesame oil in place of the macadamia nut oil (bad omega-6 to omega-3 but great flavor) and use a dash of soy sauce and 2 teaspoons of grated fresh ginger root and a dash of brown rice vinegar at the end. In that case, instead of the peppers, I would use a tablespoon of spicy chilli crisp. (Note that you have to stir this stuff: it settles just like old-fashioned peanut butter (or tahini, for that matter).)

It’s very tasty, but much like hummus. I did use chickpeas, and using black beans might offer a different flavor. Obviously, this is a recipe that admits of a lot of variation.

Written by Leisureguy

20 January 2020 at 11:45 am

Semi-hummus: Quite tasty

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I used a size of can I never saw in the US: 540ml. Google helps by pointing out “1 19oz (540ml) can, undrained = 14.5 oz (410g) by weight, drained.” The usual can in the US in 16 ounces, and I also found this: “16 oz can = 1.5 cups cooked beans 19 oz can = 2.25 cups cooked beans.”

That’s just background so you can adjust proportions. I definitely use “no salt added” beans, and I recommend you do the same.

In my little food processor I put:

• 1 19-oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed well
• 1 lemon, peel cut off, cut into slabs, seeds removed
• 1.5 tablespoons macadamia nut oil (excellent omega-6 to omega-3 ratio: 1:1)
• 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (Partanna, a reliable brand)
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 tablespoon dried mint

Process that. I actually use 2 tablespoons of each of the oils and the result was a little thin, so next time I’ll use the 1.5 tablespoons shown here. To thicken it a bit, I’m going to mix in 2 tablespoons chia seed.

It has a very nice light taste, quite different from hummus, though the relationship is obvious: garbanzo beans + lemon juice + oil + cumin.

Since EVOO has a 13:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, I think next time I’ll just use 3 tablespoons of macadamia nut oil and leave out the EVOO. Adjust amount of oil to the size can you have (or the amount of cooked garbanzo beans you prepare).

Obviously, you can do this with any bean. Maybe I’ll try it with green lentils.

Written by Leisureguy

4 October 2019 at 3:18 pm

Hummus tonight

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I made my usual recipe, this time using canned chickpeas. I use Joyva Sesame Tahini (is there another kind?), which separates. The can I opened is several years old and the top half was sesame oil and the bottom half sesame cement. I poured the oil into my trust little 3.5-cup Kitchenaid Food Processor (just the right size for this recipe), and then I used a table knife to fracture the sesame cement into chunks, which I put into the processor with the oil. A minute or two of processing produced usable tahini, which I transferred back to the can and made the hummus, using a can of chickpeas. Pretty tasty. I’ve also made this variant.

I like making my own. I expect I’ll be doing that more often.

Written by Leisureguy

20 May 2019 at 7:00 pm

Nice hummus variant

with 3 comments

I usually make it from a can of chickpeas. In a (small like this one works great) food processor, put:

1/4 c tahini
1/4 c lemon juice

Process for a minute, wiping down the bowl when half done. Add

1-2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped—even just halved
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (the good stuff)

Process for a minute wiping down the bowl half way through.

1 can chickpeas, rinsed well; OR (better) 1.5 cup cooked chickpeas, about 9.3 oz. Just soak the chickpeas overnight, and then bring to a bowl, reduce to simmer, skim the scum for a couple of minutes, and let simmer 1 hour.

Add half the chickpeas, process as usual; then add the other half and process those.

Drizzle with EVOO before serving.

This time I used 1/2 sweet onion (really sweet: like eating an apple) instead of the garlic (though perhaps it should have been in addition to the garlic), along with the cumin and salt I added 1/2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika.

Damn good.

Written by Leisureguy

25 August 2015 at 4:42 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

Really good hummus

with 2 comments

First, I get dried chickpeas and soak them for 8 hours and then cook them for 8 hours in a 200ºF oven, where 8 hours is either overnight, or during the day. Since they require no attention, you can do it either way.

I bought this little KitchenAid food processor just for this sort of thing, and I have to say it works like a charm. Pesto is next—plus “hummus” from other beans and other nut butters.

I put into the processor:

  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice (2 lemons, roughly)
  • 1/4 c tahini (because it’s so gummy, I use my hemispherical 2 Tbsp measuring soon: easy to use spatula to disgorge the contents: 4 Tbsp = 1/4 c, so two of those spoonfuls does the job)

I processed that for about 90 seconds total. Because this processor is a snug fit, you don’t really need to push down stuff that spattered onto the sides, but you can.

Then add:

  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt [I now skip the salt – LG]
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin

Sometimes I add cayenne pepper or ground chipotle. Sometimes I cut a scallion into sections and add that. Or I might add a jalapeño.

I chop the garlic clove because a whole clove is streamlined enough that it can ride the flow past the blades and not get processed. Chopping it a little helps the blades do their job.

Process that for about 90 seconds. Then add chickpeas in two batches. If you’re using canned chickpeas in a 15-oz can, drain and rinse the chickpeas, then add half, process for a minute, add the other half, and process for another 1.5-2 minutes.

If you wan to cooked your own chickpeas, you can cook just 3/4 cup, which will make the same amount you get from a 15-oz can. I prefer to cook a larger batch (so I will have cooked chickpeas on hand for other things). If you cook a big, measure out 1.5 cups or 250g (or 9 ounces).

Really, cook your own. There’s nothing to it. Cook them until they’re tender. If you add a teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to the water, that will help tenderize them and reduce cooking time.

I’ve never had the hummus be too thick, but if it is, you can process in 1-2 tablespoons water.  To serve, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with paprika, and enjoy.

This amount just fills the little KitchenAid nicely. And the processor is easy to clean.

Written by Leisureguy

8 July 2013 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes

Black-bean hummus and a sodium warning

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I got an email from SparkPeople (a health/exercise site) on the topic of sodium that listed some high-sodium foods:

Mini pretzels (1,029 mg in 10 mini rounds)
Frozen pepperoni pizza (902 mg in one slice)
Dill pickles (881 mg in one medium pickle)
Canned peas (428 mg in 1/2 cup)
Bacon (303 mg per slice)

I have to admit I didn’t realize how much sodium was in those. (To give you an idea, 2000 mg of sodium per day is plenty—more than 2400 mg is bad.)

Fortunately, I cook most of my food from scratch, and I add little or no salt—I use other seasonings to add zest: pepper, lemon, garlic, curry, whatever. Within a short time, your taste adjusts and you don’t miss the sodium. When I do add salt, I don’t use a shaker because it’s hard to tell how much I’m shaking in. I keep my salt in a little open container and add only a small pinch at most.

In the course of reading the site, I found this very tasty-sounding recipe:

3 1/2 cups black beans
1 small onion, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T ground cumin
1 1/2 t olive oil
2 T chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c vegetable broth

Drain and rinse black beans if using canned. [But much better to cook your own black beans without added salt: let the beans soak while you’re at work, simmer in the evening until soft, drain and store in fridge, using as needed in various dishes. Cooked black beans are handy to have on hand. – LG]

Place olive oil in skillet set over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers, and garlic and sauté about three minutes, until vegetables are fragrant and starting to brown slightly. Add cumin, stir well, reduce heat to medium and cook another two minutes.

Place beans in food processor and pulse seveal times. Add vegetable mixture and pulse a few more times. Add vegetable broth in small batches to thin the dip to the desired consistency. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Makes eight 1/2-cup servings.

I encourage you to click the link because the comments to the recipes have excellent suggestions for variations (e.g., using curry powder instead of cumin; use spicy salsa in place of green pepper, cilantro, and broth).

Written by Leisureguy

17 November 2011 at 2:09 am

Hummus, generalized

with one comment

Francis Lam takes a look at hummus:

  • Chickpeas
  • Tahini (sesame paste)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Lemon

And sees that this can be generalized:

  • Beans [plus a protein-complementary nut butter: sesame, pumpkin, almond, peanut, walnut, etc. – LG]
  • Fat and oil [already taken care of above – LG]
  • Salt
  • Aromatics
  • Acid
  • Cooking liquid from the beans

He includes the last because it turns out to be useful. With this generalization, he (and you) can now proceed to make a wide variety of recipes.

This reminds me of my recent discovery that just about all anecdotes about one’s cat can be generalized: “My cat did this cute thing and it made me love him/her at that moment.”

Written by Leisureguy

25 September 2010 at 7:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Beet hummus

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Another great way to eat more beets. Take a look at the recipe. Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound beets (about 4 medium sized beets), scrubbed clean, cooked, peeled, and cubed*
  • 2 Tbsp tahini sesame seed paste
  • 5 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (zest from approx. 2 lemons)
  • Generous pinch of sea salt or Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste

Written by Leisureguy

1 March 2010 at 10:22 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Extremely tasty hummus

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From The Eldest:

I loved the Hummus that we had at Santorini, the Thursday night before the wedding.  It reminded me of this recipe, which is my favorite hummus recipe.  The ingredients are pretty standard, but the texture that you get if you follow the instructions exactly is really fantastic!

Restaurant-Style Hummus
(from Cook’s Illustrated)

1/4 c. water
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice (for a more lemony hummus, grate some of the lemon peel before juicing, and add that as well)
6 TBSP well-stirred tahini
2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (I use 1/2 c. dried chickpeas, cooked and drained)
1 clove garlic, minced (ridiculous – I use more!)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cumin
pinch of cayenne

Combine the water and lemon juice in one bowl, and the tahini and oil in another.   Set aside about 12 of the whole chickpeas for a garnish. 

Put the chickpeas, salt, garlic, cumin, and cayenne in a food processor and process for about 15 seconds.  Scrape down the sides of the processor. Then add the lemon water mix through the feed tube with the processor running for about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides, and then 30 seconds more.  Scrape down the sides again.  Add the oil and tahini, with the processor running, and process until the hummus is fluffy.  Allow to rest an hour for flavors to blend.

Put the hummus in a bowl, garnish with the whole chickpeas, and drizzle with additional olive oil.  (Some people also garnish with chopped cilantro.)

Written by Leisureguy

4 June 2009 at 1:52 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Hummus via Veggichop

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I used my Veggichop to make hummus this morning:

1 cup cooked garbanzos
1 oz peeled garlic cloves
2 Tbsp tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of shoyu sauce

After multiple pulls, it’s done. It’s not a smooth paste, but rather VERY VERY finely chopped and mixed—and quite tasty. I’m happy with it. 🙂 Total amount made: 1.25 cups.

Written by Leisureguy

26 June 2008 at 9:44 am

Posted in Daily life

What about too little salt?

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I have prided myself on my low sodium intake, which I achieve through observing just a few rules:

  1. Eating whole foods, not processed foods, which almost always contain a heft amount of salt — thus no bread (high in sodium), cheese (likewise), cured meats, sauerkraut, pickles, chips, and so on.
  2. Buying only no-salt-added canned foods: tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, vegetable stock, and so on.
  3. Using no salt in cooking and adding no salt at the table.

I fairly easily maintained a level of about 1100mg/day of sodium, but now I’m thinking I may have gone overboard on my sodium-reduction program. This article in Healthline sets out 6 dangers of too low a sodium intake. It begins:

This article discusses sodium restriction in the general population. If you have been prescribed a low-sodium diet by your healthcare professional, or need to adhere to a low-sodium diet to manage a condition, the following information may not apply to you.

Sodium is an important electrolyte and main component of table salt.

Too much sodium has been linked to high blood pressure, and health organizations recommend that you limit your intake (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source3Trusted Source).

Most current guidelines recommend eating less than 2,300 mg per day. Some even go as low as 1,500 mg per day (4Trusted Source).

However, even though too much sodium causes problems, eating too little can be just as unhealthy.

Here are 6 little-known dangers of restricting sodium too much.

1. May increase in insulin resistance

A few studies have linked low sodium diets to increased insulin resistance (5Trusted Source6Trusted Source7Trusted Source).

Insulin resistance is when your body’s cells don’t respond well to signals from the hormone insulin, leading to higher insulin and blood sugar levels.

Insulin resistance is believed to be a major driver of many serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease (8Trusted Source9Trusted Source).

One study involving 152 healthy people found that insulin resistance increased after only 7 days on a low sodium diet (5Trusted Source).

Yet, not all studies agree. Some have found no effect, or even a decrease in insulin resistance (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source12Trusted Source).

However, these studies varied in length, study population, and degree of salt restriction, which may explain the inconsistent results.

SUMMARYLow sodium diets have been associated with increased insulin resistance, a condition that causes higher blood sugar and insulin levels. This may lead to type 2 diabetes and other seriousdiseases.

2. No clear benefit for heart disease

It’s true that reducing your sodium intake can reduce your blood pressure.

However, blood pressure is only a risk factor for disease. What’s really significant is hard endpoints like heart attacks or death.

Several observational studies have looked at . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Right off the bat, I see one thing that might affect me, and might explain why my fasting BG readings might have been slightly higher the past 6 months — not by much but noticeable. Until about 6 months ago, my readings were around 5.8 to 5.9, and now they run around 6.3 to 6.4. Still controlled, but not so well.

So I’m going to introduce a little salt into my diet — baby steps, though. When I roast vegetables, I’ll salt them, and also use a little salt when I make hummus or guacamole. I also will add a little salt to my salad dressing. But for now I’ll limit added salt to those four things, and see how that goes.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2021 at 3:19 pm

There’s no reason to eat three meals a day

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I found Amanda Mull’s article in the Atlantic quite interesting because I’ve observed my own meal drift. I now start the day late (around 10:00am) with a pint of coffee or tea (plain, no sugar or milk/cream) and three pieces of fruit (usually now a tangerine, pear, and apple, but in the summer peaches, plums, apricots, and others will come into play). Then around 1:30pm I’ll eat a big bowl of mixed vegetables, grain, and beans, with walnuts, flaxseed, and turmeric. Around 5;00pm I’ll have another bowl, but without nuts, flaxseed, or turmeric. Generally I have a serving of mixed berries (thawed from frozen), either mid-afternoon or early evening.

Mull’s description of her own meal evolution begins:

For the first 34 years of my life, I always ate three meals a day. I never thought much about it—the routine was satisfying, it fit easily into my life, and eating three meals a day is just what Americans generally do. By the end of last summer, though, those decades of habit had begun to erode. The time-blindness of working from home and having no social plans left me with no real reason to plod over to my refrigerator at any specific hour of the day. To cope, I did what many Americans have done over the past year: I quasi-purposefully fumbled around for a new routine, and eventually I came up with some weird but workable results—and with Big Meal.

Big Meal is exactly what it sounds like: a meal that is large. It’s also untethered from linear time. Big Meal is not breakfast, lunch, or dinner—social constructs that no longer exist as such in my home—although it could theoretically occur at the traditional time for any of them. Big Meal comes when you’re ready to have it, which is a moment that only you can identify. For me, this is typically in the late afternoon, but sometimes it’s at breakfast. Generally, Big Meal happens once a day.

In the dieting (excuse me, biohacking) trend known as intermittent fasting, people compress their calories into a limited window of hours. But that’s not what Big Meal is at all. It’s not a diet. I snack whenever I feel like it—Triscuits with slices of pepper jack, leftover hummus from the Turkish takeout place that sometimes provides Big Meal, a glob of smooth peanut butter on a spoon. The phrase started as a joke about my inability to explain to a friend why I was making risotto in the middle of the afternoon, or why I didn’t have an answer to “What’s for dinner?” at 6 p.m. beyond “Uh, well, I ate a giant burrito at 11 a.m. and grazed all afternoon, so I think I’m done for the day.” Now I simply say, “It’s time for Big Meal,” or “I already had Big Meal.”

This curious change in my own eating was just the beginning. The pandemic has disrupted nearly every part of daily life, but the effects on how people eat have been particularly acute. Dining closures and weekend boredom have pushed a country of reticent cooks to prepare more of its own meals. Delivery-app middlemen have tightened their grip on the takeout market. Supply shortages have made flour, beans, pasta, and yeast hot commodities. Viral recipes have proliferated—can I interest anyone in sourdoughbanana breadshallot pastabaked feta, or a truly excellent cast-iron-pan pizza?

Even for people who have had a relatively stable existence over the past year, pandemic mealtime changes have been chaotic. Which isn’t to say that they’ve been uniformly negative. Big shifts in daily life have a way of forcing people into new habits—and forcing them to figure out what they actually want to eat.

If you pore over the food-business news from the past year, there’s little question that lots of people have changed their habits in one way or another. For instance, many people are buying more snacks—in January, Frito-Lay said that some of its marquee brands, such as Tostitos and Lay’s, had finished the year with sales increases of roughly 30 to 40 percent. The entire “fruit snack” category has more than doubled its sales, according to one market analysis. Frozen-food sales are up more than 20 percent, and online orders of packaged foods as varied as chewing gum and wine have also seen a marked increase.

But sales numbers and trend reports tell only part of the story. Underneath them are people trying to mold their individual circumstances to survivability, or maybe even pleasure, however they can, and the biggest unifying factor is that “normal” hardly exists anymore. For millions of people who have lost income during the pandemic, just getting groceries is often a hard-fought victory. Among the wealthy, constant Caviar deliveries and access to private, pandemic-safe dining bubbles at fine restaurants have kept things novel. Households in the middle have scrambled to form new, idiosyncratic routines all their own.

Wendy Robinson, a community-college administrator in St. Paul, Minnesota, told me that working from home most of the week has had the opposite effect on her than it did on me: It added more meals to her life. Before the pandemic, “a lot of my eating was really convenience-driven, and I didn’t have a dedicated lunchtime, because I just was so busy,” she said. Food came erratically—from a co-worker’s desk, from the campus cafeteria, from Starbucks, picked up on the way home after a late night at work. Now she eats a real lunch most days, and she cooks more—a hobby she has always enjoyed—because she can do it while she’s on conference calls and during what used to be her commute.

Kids have necessitated their own set of pandemic adaptations. Robinson and her husband, who also works from home most of the time, have two kids who attend school remotely. Despite a rough first few months and plenty of ongoing stresses, Robinson says the at-home life has also given her more opportunity to cook with her kids and teach them the basics. Lately, her 12-year-old son has begun to enthusiastically pitch in during the family’s meals. “He makes a legit great omelet and delicious scrambled eggs, and he makes himself grilled cheese,” Robinson said. “Sometimes, when I am really busy, he will make me lunch now.”

With younger kids, things can be a little trickier.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2021 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Things that cause us wonder: Example

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I wonder why I never thought of using the immersion blender to make hummus — or, in the case at hand, a hummus variant. I had no lemons, so:

• 1 can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• 1/4 cup tahini
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
• good amount of cayenne pepper (probably 1/4 teaspoon at least)
• about a teaspoon of ground cumin
• 6-8 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
• several dashes Louisiana hot sauce
• dash of fish sauce

I put that in a tall pot of small diameter (the All-Clad 2qt Stainless pot) and blended it well. I then sliced about 10 slices from a daikon radish, stacked them,, and bisected them so I had half-moon-shaped scoopers.

Very tasty. And clean-up is a snap. Why didn’t I think of this before now?

Written by Leisureguy

2 March 2021 at 7:58 pm

Beans for Life!

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I eat beans at each meal, and I’ve grown to like them a lot because of the variety. For example,

  • Cook, drain, chill, and use in salads or standalone — lentils (black belugua, Du Puy, brown, green), kidney beans, soybeans, black beans, and a jillion kinds of heritage beans (some favorites: Christmas Lima beans, black valentine beans (better than black turtle beans), flageolet beans, mortgage lifter beans (enormous), corona beans (a special favorite—sweet and creamy and hold their shape), scarlet runner beans, black rice beans (very small), and others. Good sources: Purcell Mountain Farms and Rancho Gordo and see the list in this post.
  • Make a soup — for example, Lentils Monastery Style is easy to make with ingredients you might already have on hand (and that in any case are easily found).  I also made a variation when I was active in WW, Lentils WW Style. Or try Senate Bean Soup.
  • Cook and mash to make hummus (chickpeas and tahini with lemon juice and olive oil) or a variation with a different kind of bean and perhaps a nut butter (almond butter, hazelnut butter) instead of tahini — see Hummus, Generalized and also browse this list for variants I’ve made. My stand-by standard recipe is what I make most often.
  • Cook and don’t mash to make some sort of bean salad or side-dish, such as Texas Caviar or Mark Bittman’s Bean Salad (with variations).

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2021 at 11:57 am

Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen, annotated

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This is almost certainly one of those posts that I will continue to revise over time (much as I keep updating my current diet advice).

Basic meal pattern I follow

The following meals check all the boxes from the Daily Dozen list in the section below. Generally I get “extra credit” because (for example) the greens might be kale (2 servings = 2 checks for cruciferous vegetables plus 2 checks for greens), plus I often mix 1 tablespoon horseradish into a meal (another check for cruciferous vegetables).

Each food category in the meals list represents one (1) serving, though in fact for Beans and Whole Grains I usually eat 1/2 serving (1/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup). Details for each category follow the menu list.

Serving size adjustmen
t: After gaining some weight, I adjusted the amounts (easily done, since I routinely measured each serving). For now, the new servings are: 2 tablespoons each of nuts/seeds, beans/lentils, and cooked whole grain, 1/3 cup greens, and 1/3 cup other vegetables.

Breakfast is a pint of hot tea and 3 pieces of fruit (usually a tangerine, a pear, and an apple, but with summer I’ll swap in other fruit, like peach, pluot, and plum. Occasionally, I’ll eat a dragonfruit or some such. Avocados I eat from time to time, but I count those as “other vegetable” rather than “fruit,” which is handy but inaccurate.

Lunch: Around 12:00 or 1:00. I’ll eat a meal of nuts/seeds, beans/lentils, cooked grain, greens, and other vegetables, using serving sizes listed above. This meal also includes 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, about 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed (using an electric spice/coffee grinder), 1 teaspoon amla powder, and 1 teaspoon Bragg’s nutritional yeast (that brand being a good source of B12).

Snack: Most days I’ll have a bowl of thawed frozen mixed berries (blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries) around 3:00.

Dinner: Around 4:30 I’ll have the final meal of the day: beans/lentils, cooked whole grain, greens, and other vegetables, using the serving sizes already listed.

Sometimes for lunch or dinner I will make a salad (generally using red cabbage as the greens) with bean/lentils and grain along with scallions, daikon radish, sweet bell pepper, mushrooms, and so on. I generally mix in a teaspoon of Bragg’s nutritional yeast, and make a vinaigrette or use one that’s pre-made.

I don’t eat anything after 5:00pm. During the afternoon and evening I drink iced hibiscus tea, or sometimes iced white tea.

I now use a small amount of salt in cooking. My salt intake had dropped too low, with the result that I was occasionally getting woozy. When I upped my salt intake by using some during cooking, the wooziness went away.

Beverage (hot tea or coffee)
Whole Grain
Other Vegetables
Flaxseed (ground)
Turmeric (ground)
Nuts/Seeds (unsalted nuts or unsalted pepitas)
1 teaspoon amla powder
2 teaspoons dried mint
2 teaspoons ground black pepper (to help with turmeric)


Whole Grain
Cruciferous Vegetable (e.g., 1 tablespoon horseradish)
1 tablespoon hot sauce


Whole Grain
Other Vegetables

During afternoon and evening I consume multiples servings of iced tea (white or hibiscus)

Nordic walking, and I use GPS Odometer, a smartphone app, to measure the walk in terms of time, distance, and speed. Example: 2.412 miles at 3.41mph, duration 00:42:26. (I keep a spreadsheet of the stats because I like to see my progress.)

Basic meal pattern — As you see, for lunch and dinner the basic meal pattern is Beans+Whole Grain and then either Greens or Other Vegetables. Breakfast is loaded: both Greens and Other Vegetables, along with Flaxseed, Nuts/Seeds, and Spices. Thus my big meal is breakfast, in accordance with chronobiology.

More on the Dozen and the servings

Categories are listed here by the number of daily servings recommended, where represents one serving. For each category, I list some foods to provide ideas as a starting point.

I don’t use any added salt, and I avoid salty foods like sauerkraut, pickles, capers, and the like. When you stop using salt, your food will taste flat for a few days, but within a week your taste will adjust and the food will taste fine — and your body will thank you for the health benefit.

To cut meal preparation time, I cook food in batches, which I refrigerate. For a meal I take a portion of each as needed. Thus my refrigerator usually contains four containers of cooked food:  Beans, Whole Grain, Greens, and Other Vegetables. If you want, you can label the containers with food name and date prepared by using masking tape and a fine-tip Sharpie.

Beverages — ☐ ☐ ☐ ☐ ☐
Serving: 12 ounces water, sparkling water, flavored unsweetened water (for example, La Croix water), tea (black, green, or white — for me mostly white), coffee — definitely not fruit juice or soda pop. If you sweeten the beverage, use erythritol, not refined sugar or artificial sweeteners. I mostly drink unsweetened iced tea, either white tea or hibiscus tea, though I start the day with a pint of hot tea, usually a black tea or a black-and-green combination (for example, Murchie’s No. 10 blend). Nowadays I mostly drink iced hibiscus tea.

Beans — ☐ ☐ ☐
Serving: 1/4 cup hummus; or 1/2 cup cooked beans (black, pinto, chickpea, soy, kidney, navy, Lima, red, and others, including mixed beans), split peas, lentils, edamame, homemade tempeh, or tofu. A bowl of split-pea soup would be a serving. A patty of homemade tempeh sausage is delicious and is a serving.

As noted above, I dropped the serving of cooked beans to 1/4 cup, and when I went to lose weight, to 2 tablespoons.

For cooking dried beans, I use different methods depending on my mood and how I plan to use the beans. This post for details.

Whole grains — ☐ ☐ ☐
Serving: 1/2 cup cooked intact whole grain: oat groats, hulled barley, wheat berries, whole rye, Kamut, spelt, emmer, farro, einkorn, red fife, etc.; or pseudo-grains like amaranth, buckwheat groats, quinoa, or chia seed. I recommend that you avoid grain that has been cut (steel-cut oats, pot barley) or polished (pearled barley, white rice) or smashed (rolled oats, barley flakes) or pulverized (foods made from flour such as bread, pasta, bagels, English muffins, pancakes, tortillas, boxed cereals, and so on). I particularly like Kamut®, a brand of organically grown khorasan wheat. Watch the video at for more information.

All grains follow the same recipe: Add 1 cup intact whole grain to 3 cups boiling water, reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the grain has absorbed all the water. Depending on the grain, that takes from 1 to 2 hours or more — just continue checking from time to time. The water level’s easy to see. Toward the end, stir the grain to make sure the water’s all been absorbed. I use a timer to remind myself to check on it. Pseudograins (amaranth, for example) generally take 2 cups of water to 1 cup of seeds.

Once the grain has cooked, put it into a storage container and refrigerate. This step makes the starch resistant, so digestion takes longer and thus lengthens satiation.. Then for each meal take a portion and eat it hot or cold with whatever accompaniments you want. I usually use 1/3 cup for a serving.

The pseudo-grains (quinoa, etc.) use a different proportion of seeds to water (generally 1 part seed to 2 parts water) and cook more quickly. Rinse quinoa before cooking to remove the bitter coating of the seeds.

I do not eat rice or corn in any form (steamed, chips, popped, cakes, etc.) because I’ve found those tend to spike my blood glucose levels.

Fruit Other Than Berries — ☐ ☐ ☐
Serving: 1 medium fruit or 1 cup cut-up fruit or 1/4 cup dried fruit. It took me a while to realize that this is easy if I keep a good selection of fruit on hand. I now have a basket that holds apples, pears, citrus fruit (navel oranges, mandarin oranges, tangerines, lemons), pears, and (in season) persimmons, peaches, plums, nectarines, and so on. Note on apples and pears: Eat all but the stem. In general, a fruit’s skin is high in antioxidants, so don’t peel the fruit (except for citrus fruit, bananas, watermelons and the like — though I often used diced lemons including the peel in cooking, and preserved lemons are unpeeled).

Watermelon is a good source of lycopene, higher than tomatoes (which are themselves high in lycopene, though in tomatoes the lycopene is bioavailable only if the tomatoes are cooked).

I avoid bananas and grapes: insufficient nutritional punch.

Useful note: make a fruit-fly trap and keep it near the fruit basket.

Greens — ☐ ☐
Serving: 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked greens, either a single green or a combination of greens: cabbage (green, red, savoy, or Napa), kale, collards, spinach, chard, dandelion greens, mustard greens, tung ho, bok choy, turnip greens, Brussels sprouts, romaine, leaf lettuce, watercress, endive, radicchio, chicory. Note that many of these count both as a green and as a cruciferous vegetable.

I rinse greens thoroughly and shake off excess water or dry in a salad spinner. Then I mince the stems, chop the leaves, and cook in a little liquid, often with a splash of vinegar. Cook to the degree of tenderness you prefer. Even if you just wilt the greens, they are safe to eat. (Unlike undercooked meat, undercooked vegetables are not a parasite risk.) I generally cook a mix of greens — here’s a recipe for a typical batch.

I often will include a diced lemon (including peel, though I discard the ends) with the greens when I cook them.

Other Vegetables — ☐ ☐
Serving: 1 cup raw leafy vegetable; or 1/2 cup raw or cooked non-leafy vegetables. Important note: a serving can consist of a single vegetable or a mix of vegetables. I prefer a mix, so the batch I cook has a variety. I usually cook them just al dente — it’s not as though I’m cooking pork.

I always include allium (garlic, leeks (including the leaves), spring onions (including leaves), scallions (including leaves), shallots, red or yellow onion, sweet onion). I usually use garlic and another allium.

I also use some of these: diced beets, tomatoes, tomato paste (no salt added), chopped asparagus, diced eggplant (Japanese, Italian, Indian), diced carrots, chopped celery, chopped green beans, chopped sugar snap peas, snow peas, chopped red/yellow/orange bell pepper, finely chopped chiles (jalapeño, habanero, serrano, Anaheim, poblano, banana, Thai (green or red), New Mexico green chiles), chopped or sliced mushrooms (white, crimini, oyster), diced bitter melon, diced squash (summer squash, zucchini, chayote squash). Here’s a recipe for a typical batch of mixed vegetables.

Winter squash (delicata, kombucha, butternut, buttercup, ambercup, acorn, carnival) I usually cut into pieces and roast after removing the seeds, which I toss with a little oil and roast with the squash. Spaghetti squash is also good: cut it in half, seed it, and roast it, then remove the “spaghetti” with a fork. Spaghetti squash skin is like a shell: inedible.

I avoid potatoes in all forms (chips, baked, hash browns, french fries, etc.) because I have found that potatoes spike my blood glucose.

Cruciferous Vegetables — ☐
Serving: 1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked broccoli, broccolini, rapini (broccoli rabe), romanesco broccoli, Chinese broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage (red, green, savoy, Napa), Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, bok choy (also: baby bok choy, Shaghai bok choy), turnip, rutabaga (Swedes), turnip greens, watercress, mustard greens, mustard seed, kohlrabi, arugula (rocket), watercress, radish, daikon; or 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish from the refrigerated section. I often use 1-2 tablespoons horseradish to ensure I’m getting three servings of cruciferous vegetables, adding it to vegetables or greens.

I generally have a container of steamed broccoli in the fridge, which I use in salads, along with beans and intact whole grain and other vegetables like bell pepper, daikon radish, scallions, endive, etc. I make my own salad dressing. I have a little jar and put into it the juice of a lemon, a tablespoon of olive oil, ground black pepper, Dijon mustard or ground (dry) mustard, dried mint or marjoram, smoked paprika, a dash of tamari or soy sauce, and sometimes a little toasted sesame oil. Shake well and pour over salad.

Berries — ☐
Serving: 1/2 cup fresh or frozen. I usually buy frozen mixed berries (blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries).

Flaxseeds — ☐
Serving: 1 tablespoon, ground. I use an electric coffee/spice grinder for this.

Nuts/seeds — ☐
Serving: 1/4 cup unsalted walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, pepitas, sunflower seed, hempseed; or 2 tablespoons nut butter (raw, unsalted, no sugar, salt, or other additives). I eat these by themselves or mixed with Berries or Greens or Other Vegetables or Whole Grain.

Spices — ☐
Serving: 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric (always) plus other salt-free herbs and spices: minced fresh turmeric, minced ginger root, dried mint, Ceylon cinnamon (never cassia cinnamon), ground cloves, oregano, Mexican oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, dried basil, curry powder, ground chiles (ancho, chipotle, chimayo, cayenne), ground cumin, amla powder, and others.

I add no salt  to food during or after cooking, and I eat no salty foods (such as sauerkraut, pickles, capers, olives, and so on). I use pepper sauce, but pick brands with low sodium content. — update: My salt intake turned out to be too low, and I started getting occasional woozy spells. I now add a pinch of salt in cooking grain, and occasionally a pinch of salt as I cook greens or other vegetables. With the slight increase in salt, the wooziness went away. Overall, my salt intake is still pretty low, but up from what I had been doing.

I use pepper sauce, and because I minimize my salt consumption, I once picked brands with low sodium content. Now I don’t pay so much attention to that.

Exercise — ☐
Serving: 90 minutes moderate activity or 40 minutes vigorous activity. Nordic walking is my choice. Strength-training exercise is also advisable. For the elderly, strength training minimizes frailty.

Written by Leisureguy

19 February 2020 at 1:11 pm

Good chip substitute for dips

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I made a batch of hummus using this recipe except that I also included a chopped-up jalapeño pepper (including core and seeds). It was not especially hot — jalapeños nowadays are much milder, and I think they had been bred to be not so hot to appeal to a wider range of people. I also thought about adding half a red bell pepper. And I noted this recipe (while looking for the other recipe) that uses macadamia-nut oil (1:1 omega-6 to omega-3 ratio) instead of tahini, and perhaps that with smoked paprika in addition to cumin, maybe with black beans instead of chickpeas (later today), along with a jalapeño or two.

I don’t like to use crackers since I like my grain to be intact, but one does want to dip the hummus rather than just attack it with a spoon. So I tried using sliced daikon radish (high in potassium), sliced with my trusty Swissmar Borner V-1001 V-Slicer mandoline, a truly useful device. (I also tried the new model, but I did not like it so much.)

I don’t use the hand-protective slide because it just doesn’t work very well. Instead, when I use the mandoline, I protect my hand with a cut-proof glove, which works quite well — I’ve never gotten a cut.

I tried both the thick-cut and the thin-cut sides. The thick-cut worked better: more rigid, and daikon is tasty.

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2020 at 10:56 am

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