Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Antioxidant Super Hummus with Red Beans and Pecans

The word 'cancer' sounds completely different when it's used to describe someone close to you. It echoes in a way that never really fully dissipates until the word is again uttered and the echo starts over again. 

Regular readers of our Facebook page have figured out by now that my dad, Graham Burks Sr., has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Thankfully, he qualified for Whipple surgery, which he had a few weeks ago. Now he's recovering from that before starting chemotherapy next month. This, needless to say, has us all a bit shaken, but it has done something else as well.  It has us resolute and willing to fight.

In addition to the regular doctor-prescribed treatments, we are arming ourselves for a food fight. Not the kind you had in grade school that started when someone lobbed a greasy hash brown across the cafeteria, but the kind of food fight that starts with knowledge and understanding and then yields some truly healthy dishes that nourish the body and help to fight cancer from the inside out.

With this hummus, we are focusing on antioxidants. According to The National Cancer Institute, "Antioxidants are chemicals that block the activity of other chemicals known as free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and have the potential to cause damage to cells, including damage that may lead to cancer."

So we have loaded this with some of the top-performing antioxidant foods (according to WebMD) like red beans and pecans and paired them with some of the most potent antioxidant spices (according to Science Daily). The kicker is that it tastes great and is similar to a warm curry mixture like masala because of the cinnamon. 

All right, Dad: let's fight this together. 

Antioxidant Super Hummus with Red Beans and Pecans

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sumac
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1 can red beans (drained)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt (to taste)

In a small frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and add the garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, and sumac. Cook until the rawness is gone from the spices and the garlic has softened. Into the work bowl of your food processor, add the oil and spice mixture from the frying pan, pecans, red beans, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Add salt to taste and blend until incorporated.

Serve with sliced zucchini, cucumber, or pita chips. Alternately, spread it onto a soft pita bread and top with lettuce, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, and feta. (Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a sandwich spread.)