Hummus for Days (A Day in Richmond with Sabra)

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending the day at the Sabra Pearl Center of Excellence (named after Sabra founder Yehuda Pearl) with a small group of fellow Registered Dietitians. The research and development facility is located just outside Richmond and is also home to their hummus manufacturing facility, which is the biggest hummus manufacturing facility in the world. Whoa. That’s a LOT of hummus.

When we first arrived, we learned a bit about the facility itself. It was one of the first silver LEED certified manufacturing facilities, and is made with 20% recyclable materials. It also contains energy saving features like rain water collectors and super thick installation, and at least 35% of the building’s energy comes from renewable resources. Love it!

Next, we got down to the serious work: tasting. I know, my job is so hard.

I’ve been eating Sabra hummus for many years now. I first got really obsessed with it while interning in a hospital for my dietetic internship – the Sabra hummus pretzel cups were available in the cafeteria and I had one every afternoon as a snack. So good! I buy them a lot on trips now, too – love seeing them in airports and gas stations.

As for the regular hummus, there’s pretty much always a container of it in our fridge (right now we have the Olive Tapenade Hummus – love that one). It was a lot of fun to try some of the newer or limited distribution flavors yesterday that I hadn’t had the opportunity to enjoy yet!

Here are a bunch of new-to-me flavors/products that I really loved, clockwise from top left: Lemon Twist Hummus, Rosemary with Sea Salt Hummus, Basil Pesto Hummus, Spanish Eggplant (I had no idea they even made this – it was awesome and I don’t usually like eggplant much!), and Chunky Basil Pesto Hummus (I’ve never seen the chunky variety – it has large pieces of chickpeas in it, yum).

I was also really surprised to see that they have an organic hummus! Right now it’s sadly only available/being tested in the Pacific Northwest (at Costco), but if it’s popular maybe they’ll bring it east. Fingers crossed – I would love that!

Apparently to make the organic variety, they have to shut down their facility, clean the whole thing, then bring it back up as organic only for a little while. Wow!

After sampling the deliciousness, we sat down to a proper lunch while learning more about hummus nutrition from Sabra’s corporate nutritionist. The lunch gave me some great new ideas for recipes to try at home!

We started with hummus topped with quick pickled veggies, hummus with pomegranate seeds and a pomegranate sauce, and a sprouted quinoa, veggie, and walnut salad to mix some of the hummus with.

My favorite, though, was this hummus topped with ground turkey, pine nuts, pomegranates, mint, parsley, and various spices. It was delicious, especially mixed with the quinoa dish. 🙂

As for what we learned over lunch, here are some hummus nutrition and cooking fun facts. Did you know that…

  • 2 spoons of hummus (~2oz) per day x 7 days per week = 1 & 3/4 cups of beans, or the weekly MyPlate bean recommendation.
  • Chickpeas are packed with plant protein, fiber, iron, and B vitamins.
  • The oil and tahini (made from roasted sesame seeds) in hummus add some healthy poly- and monounsaturated fats into the mix.
  • You can apparently use hummus instead of butter in cake/muffin recipes (I have to try this – interesting idea!). Just swap it with a 1:1 ratio (and use the plain/unflavored variety… although the lemon might be good in a baked good, too).
  • Hummus is a great way to add creaminess to mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and soup (like the Creamy Mexican Chicken Chili Soup recipe I posted yesterday).
  • You can use hummus instead of cheese to make vegan nachos.
  • Hummus makes a great creamy salad dressing – just mix it with a little lemon juice and a splash of oil.

And here are some of my previously-tested favorite ways to pack more hummus into your life:

  • Spicy Hummus Queso Dip (<—great party appetizer)
  • Creamy Hummus Mexican Brown Rice Casserole (sounds weird but it’s great)
  • Smoked Salmon and Hummus Sandwich
  • 4 Ingredient Quinoa Salad (easiest dinner or lunch ever)
  • Use hummus in place of mayo in tuna/chicken/egg salad (I love doing this!) or as a spread for sandwiches.
  • Coat fish or chicken in hummus, then roll in breadcrumbs and bake. It will come out really juicy!

Our final adventure of the day was a tour of the hummus manufacturing area! Check out this sweet outfit:

Wish I could have held onto that for Halloween! 😉 We weren’t allowed to take pictures once inside the manufacturing area, but we did snag this group shot before heading in, because our outfits were too amazing to not document. From left: me, Michelle Dudash, RD, Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, Diane Henderiks, RD, and Liz Weiss, RD. Great group of very accomplished women – I loved the opportunity to see Rebecca and Liz again and to meet/get to know Diane and Michelle!

As for the tour, it was really cool. I loved seeing the process behind producing and packaging my favorite hummus! The facility was extremely clean, and the whole place smelled like garlic, spices, and boiling chickpeas. Heaven.

What’s your favorite Sabra hummus flavor?

A big thank you to Sabra for having me, covering my expenses for this trip, and sponsoring this follow up recap!

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