We have a bit of a hangup when it comes to meat and well to be honest, the kind of meat we would like to eat seems to fall more into the luxury category rather than the grocery budget category. Free-range, organic, grass-fed, natural.... all those adjectives add dollars and cents to the animals we love to heat and eat. We try to be practical and we try to save so hopefully one day we can buy enough land to raise our own meats.
This is how we think about everything. How can our family sustain itself? How do we provide the protein we need on a daily basis for two hungry adults and a gaggle of growing children? Our family turns to the legume.
Beans are cheap and they are packed with important nutrients. They are an excellent source of iron, folate, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. They are heavy in protein and low in fat. Some varieties contain more antioxidants than blueberries. And we can grow them ourselves. We are trying our hand at growing a few varieties this year, so hopefully they are also easy to grow.
We rely heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables to appease the constant inquiries for something to snack on. Apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, celery, carrots, and broccoli usually get picked off first. If the produce ever gets the chance to turn, it gets tossed into a yogurt/juice smoothie. But, when the budget is tight there is less in the fruit basket and it's time to get creative with what we have stored in the pantry. This morning I found a big can of chickpeas staring right back at me.
Here is what I use:
1 lb chickpeas, drained
(sometimes I use dried - then soaked overnight - and cooked for about an hour)
3 Tablespoons Tahini
3 garlic cloves, big fat ones
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
ground red pepper (optional) *In summer I love a big handful of fresh cilantro tossed in.*
Here is what I do:
Put everything in the food processor and blend until you reach the consistency you like. Add flavors you like. We've tried cilantro, parsley, cayenne, and ground red pepper and they have all turned out pretty amazing. Place in a covered container and refrigerate.
Hummus is great as a dip, but also a great condiment, or a base for a pita pizza. Try it in place of mayo on your sandwich, or top it with olives, spinach, feta and tomato on a pita pizza. It's a great snack to always have around.