Hummus and bean dips are a tasty way to increase bean consumption. It’s one of my favorite appetizers when friends come over. And to  have on hand for snacks or a quick lunch, replacing processed mayonnaise and dairy (butter or cheese) for a wider assortment of flavor, giving our bodies something deliciously nutritious.

I bought hummus for years, not realizing how simple it was make until I made my first batch. It’s easy to escalate the flavor and nutrition: add roasted red bell peppers or pumpkin or fresh herbs.

Beans, peas and lentils are ancient foods, cultivated all over the earth for thousands of years…Beans are one of the most healthy and most economical sources of protein available and a good source of water-soluble vitamins, especially thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and folacin.

SuperFoods Rx: Fourteen Foods that Will Change your Life
Steven Pratt, M.D., and Kathy Matthews

Beans, peas and lentils are ancient foods, cultivated all over the earth for thousands of years…

I’ve gone beyond simply garbanzo and have discovered making “hummus” with  lentil, black bean or white beans. I’ve puréed leftover lentil (or any bean) soup to make a tasty spread. And use that extra cup of black beans leftover from another recipe. Its as easy as simply blending with a crushed garlic, and a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and some fresh herbs (parsley, basil, arugula, etc).

Pesto also makes a frequent appearance in my kitchen. It’s usually associated with pasta, and generally made with basil or parsley. But I use whatever herbs are on hand: arugula, kale, mint, carrot tops and even Swiss chard and use pesto in multiple ways.

Here are recipes for my favorite dips and spreads to:

  • On fish fillets to roast in ove
  • On broiled chicken breasts
  • Tossed with whole-wheat pasta and beans fora quick dinner.
  • Spread on toast for a quick snack
  • Replace mayo and use as a sandwich spread
  • Use in a wrap with grains, greens, roasted or fresh veggies, leftover chicken or some cheese
  • Dip for crackers or crudités with a drink when unexpected guests drop in.