March is nutrition month for the English language learners at YMCA Newcomer Connections. Today we’re bringing you a bit of a different blog post as we present a healthy recipe for a snack you can enjoy the next time you’re at the YMCA.
Mona and Hia are both newcomers from Syria, and met while taking English classes at the YMCA. The two formed a fast friendship, volunteered to cook community dinners, and eventually became the owners and chefs at the Middle East Café, located in the lobby of the Saint John Regional Y.
Members at the Y will recognize the many delicious smells wafting through our lobby, and now you can try making Middle Eastern cuisine in your own home.
Hia and Mona kindly welcomed me into the café on a chilly Tuesday morning and walked me through the steps of making hummus, a healthy and delicious snack option – one that I’ve been enjoying in store-bought portions for years.
The ingredients are simple, starting with dried chickpeas. Let them soak overnight (preferably for 24 hours) to reconstitute their moisture. Boil the chickpeas for 30 to 60 minutes, until the chickpeas are soft and able to be squashed between your fingers. Dried chickpeas are higher in nutrients than the canned variety, but if you’re in a pinch for time the canned version works fine – just skip the boiling process!
Hia put the chickpeas into her food processor, and added the rest of the ingredients one at a time: garlic, cumin, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and tahini. The result is a smooth and creamy hummus that made my mouth water. Paprika and cumin are sprinkled on top as a garnish, and for an additional pop of flavour.
I can’t wait to dip some veggie sticks, use this as a spread on sandwiches or as a sauce on a wrap.
The next time you need to refuel after a workout at the Saint John Regional Y, why not stop by the Middle East Café and try one of their healthy offerings. If you’re ready to try making your own hummus at home, check out the recipe below: