I’m leaving today for a 10-day silent meditation retreat. I will be completely disconnected from the outside world for 10 full days. I’ll have no access to my computer, phone, social media, TV, books, music, or any other form of distraction. I hope that you’ll forgive me if I’m absent from the blog, don’t post on Instagram or don’t reply to your comments for the next week or so. I will be back in 10 days with a clear mind, a rested body and hopefully a ton of new ideas to share with you.
I’ve done this meditation course two times already – I did my first one about 4 years ago, and the second one a little more than a year ago. It is without a doubt the most challenging thing I ever did – it is emotionally, spiritually and physically challenging in ways that are almost impossible to explain. But it is also one of the most rewarding experiences I will ever do. It changed my life in ways that I would never have thought possible. I meditate on and off in my everyday life and I like to go back every now and then to reconnect with my meditation practice and deepens my learnings. I always leave with a new perspective on life and a profound feeling of clarity, gratitude and love. The meditation technique is called “Vipassana”, which means “to see things as they really are”. If you’re curious and want to know more about the course, you can learn all about it here, or feel free to leave a comment below or send me an email and I’ll be happy to answer any question you may have when I get back.
Before I leave, let me share with you this delicious variation on the classic hummus recipe. I know, there are tons of hummus recipes out there and to be quite honest, I think they’re all amazing! You can’t really go wrong with hummus, can you ?
I chose to use one of my favorite winter root veggies as the star here: Jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchoke, sunroot, earth apple or topinambour). Jerusalem artichokes are in season now and you should make the most of them before they’re gone. Their weird appearance does not do justice to their wonderful taste and overall awesomeness. Sunchokes are super flavourful – they have a unique combination of earthiness, nuttiness and sweetness. They can be eaten raw but are particularly delicious roasted. I’ve roasted them here with some garlic to release their natural sugars. They become super soft with the roasting process and make a wonderful base to a creamy hummus, which is perfectly accompanied by these crispy, flaky za’atar crackers.
These crackers might possibly be the easiest and most delicious homemade crackers you will ever make. I wish I could take credit for this awesome recipe, but it goes to my friend Kris, the talented holistic chef behind the amazing food blog 80 Twenty and contributor to Baked – The Blog. I’ve made these crackers many times – switching seeds, herbs and spices – and they never disappoint. Kris has posted a few different variations of the recipe (Pumped Up Seeded Crackers, Multi-Seed Gluten-Free Oat Crackers et Rosemary Sea Salt Gluten-Free Oat Crackers), which are all crazy delicious. I’ve chosen to add a new one to the list and use what is probably my all-time favorite spice blend: za’atar, since it goes really well with the Mediterranean flavours of hummus. You can find pre-made za’atar in ethnic markets and specialized grocery stores, or you can make your own following the recipe below.
REMOVING CHICKPEA SKINS
I highly recommend to remove skins from the chickpeas before making the hummus (I try to do it whenever I can, not just for hummus, but for any recipe using chickpeas). Chickpea skins are very hard to digest and can cause gas and bloating. If you’ve had trouble digesting chickpeas, you should definitely try this method and see for yourself. It is seriously a revelation! The process takes about 10 minutes, but I think it’s totally worth the effort. Not only will it improve digestion, it also makes the hummus smoother. Win-win!
To remove the skins, simply place chickpeas in a large bowl and submerge with water. Then rub them vigorously between your hands (see photo). The skins will fall off from the chickpeas and will start floating on the surface. You then simply have to discard the water – the skins will come right off with the water, and the chickpeas will remain at the bottom of the bowl. Repeat this process again 4 or 5 times until most of the skins are removed. And voilà, chickpeas are now ready to use and super gut-friendly!
Note: I recommend to remove skin from chickpeas for optimal digestion before using, but this step is optional. For the Jerusalem artichokes, try to buy ones that are roughly the same size so that they cook evenly.
- 450 g. Jerusalem artichokes (about 6 medium)
- 1 14-oz can chickpeas (BPA-free if possible - I like this brand) or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
- 5 large garlic cloves
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp water - or more if necessary
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
- A handful of lightly toasted pine nuts
- A handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Start by peeling the Jerusalem artichokes. Then, rince them under water if necessary to remove any remaining dirt. Wrap them tightly in foil, along with the garlic cloves (whole, skin removed) and transfer onto a baking sheet. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes (depending on their size), or until really soft - a fork or knife should slide very easily to the middle of the sunchoke. Set aside.
- While the sunchokes are roasting, prepare the chickpeas. Place chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with water. Then rub them vigorously between your hands. The skins will fall off and will start floating on the surface. Discard the water - the skins will come right off along with the water and the chickpeas will remain in the bowl. Repeat this process again at least 5 or 6 times until most of the skins are removed.
- Place the tahini, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of water in your food processor and blend. Then add the roasted sunchokes, garlic, cumin, salt, pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed by adding more lemon juice, salt, pepper or cumin. If the texture is not creamy enough, add more water, one tablespoon at a time, until you reach the perfect consistency.
- Place hummus into a shallow bowl, drizzle with olive oil and top with toasted pine nuts and chopped parsley. Serve with crackers, raw veggies or sweet potato wedges.
Note: I usually avoid cooking with olive oil because it is so sensitive to heat so I’ve tried making these crackers with coconut oil (which is a lot more resistant to heat). It works very well too, but I find that olive oil gives them a bold flavour and extra flakiness that is hard to beat. You can buy za’atar in middle-eastern grocery stores, or you can make your own by following this recipe.
- 2 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp sumac
- 2 tbsp lightly toasted sesame seeds
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ½ cup oat flour (You can make your own by finely grinding oats in a food processor) - choose certified gluten-free if necessary
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- ¼ cup freshly ground flax seeds
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp za'atar spice blend, divided
- ¼ cup olive oil (or coconut oil)
- ½ cup water
- In a small jar, stir all the ingredients together. Use it in salads, with roasted veggies, sprinkle it on top of pizza, avocado toasts, etc. Possibilities are endless! Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, add the oat flour, chickpea flour, ground flax, sea salt, and 1 tablespoon of za'atar.
- In another small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and water. Add it to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Set the mixture aside for 5-10 minutes to set. It will become much thicker.
- Once thickened, pour the batter onto the lined baking tray. Spread it as thinly as possible with an offset spatula. Sprinkle the remaining za'atar on top and then slightly press with the tips of your fingers to lightly push the spices into the dough.
- Place the tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut into squares using a pizza cutter or sharp knife.
- Place the crackers back into the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes. The crackers should be slightly crispy, light, and flaky when you take them out.
- Set aside to cool before eating.
Rule your mind or it will rule you.