Salsas and hummus — two good options for healthy snacking, light meal accents

Pairing well with raw veggies or whole grain crackers, they create a snack or meal that can both satisfy as well as give your diet a veggie or bean boost.

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Salsa and hummus have a lot to offer when it comes to healthy eating.

Salsa and hummus have a lot to offer when it comes to healthy eating.

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Salsa and hummus can be an ideal ingredient in healthy snacks or light meals. Pairing well with raw veggies or whole grain crackers, they create a snack or meal that can both satisfy as well as give your diet a veggie or bean boost.

Technically, hummus has been around for hundreds of years, but only in the last 20 or so years has it gained worldwide popularity. In the last few years, creativity has stepped in and the traditional, neutral chickpea- based dip can now be found in dozens of flavors, even chocolate. In fact, hummus has become almost a staple in healthy eating plans.

Traditionally made with chickpeas, hummus is a great option for a plant-based protein source. In addition, new on the market are nut-based spreads, very similar to hummus. Salsas, usually tomato based, are naturally low in calories and can be a delicious way to boost your intake of lycopene, which is found in canned tomato products.

Nutritionally speaking, the only real area of concern with salsas and hummus is the sodium content, which can range from minimal to almost a meal’s worth. But the higher range isn’t common. A few include avocado and therefore have higher calorie and fat contents, but isn’t a significant issue, especially considering the fat is the beneficial type. And of course, there are some newer, sweeter varieties of hummus on the market now including chocolate. These have the same chickpea base as traditional hummus but do have added sugar in the mix. Delicious as fruit dips, they offer a flavorful way to help boost your fruit intake.

Consider these tips for taking salsas and hummus beyond the snack status:

Sandwich spread: Hummus is a great alternative to mayo or mustard as a sandwich spread. With all the flavors available, the possibilities are endless in terms of delicious sandwich combos.

Top it off: Salsas make a flavorful, low-calorie topping for grilled chicken and fish.

Salad topper: Whisk a little olive oil and vinegar and your favorite herbs into hummus for a creamy salad dressing. You can do the same with salsa but swap the herbs for a splash of lime juice.

Environmental Nutrition is the award-winning independent newsletter written by nutrition experts dedicated to providing readers up-to-date, accurate information about health and nutrition.

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