Roasted Beet Hummus

Dietary Nitrate to Support Performance and Health 

Dietary nitrate supplementation may have positive effects on an athlete’s physical response to exercise.¹ Increased intakes of food or beverages containing nitrates may help to reduce the energy costs of exercise, positively impact muscle contraction, and improve athletic performance. Once ingested, the dietary nitrate is converted, with the help of oral bacteria, to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide acts to widen blood vessels which allows blood, oxygen and nutrients to be more efficiently delivered to muscles.²

One of the more popular forms of supplementation is commercially made beetroot juice (i.e. Beet-It), but athletes can also increase dietary nitrate by eating beets or other nitrate rich vegetables such as rocket lettuce, spinach, bok choy, broccoli, and radishes. It is also possible to make your own beetroot juice at home with a juicer.²

*Athletes hoping to reap the benefits of beetroot juice should avoid using mouthwash or gum as they may reduce oral bacteria, essential for the conversion of nitrate to nitric oxide.²

Which type of athletes would benefit the most from supplementation is still an area under investigation; however, there is some evidence that increasing dietary nitrates might have performance benefits for endurance athletes like runners, triathletes and cyclists. There may also be some benefit for individuals competing or training at high altitude (low oxygen environment).² Additional research is also required to determine optimal doses and timing; however, it has been suggested that about 300-500mg of nitrate (in the form of beetroot juice or other) may have the greatest impact on performance.²ʼ³ Commercially available beetroot juice concentrate can be taken up to 2 hours prior to exercise for immediate benefits.ᶟ

Mild intestinal discomfort has been reported in some athletes (large volume of fluids, increase in fibre – if having beets in their whole form). These symptoms may be reported more frequently in those with a medical history of irritable bowel disease.² Individuals interested in trying beetroot juice or increasing foods naturally containing nitrates who have a history of GI intolerance or who wish to use this product prior to an athletic event may wish to use a concentrated form like Beet-It shots.¹ Beetroot juice may also make your urine or stool pink, but this is harmless.²

*Athletes hoping to reap the benefits of beetroot juice should avoid using mouthwash or gum as they may reduce oral bacteria, essential for the conversion of nitrate to nitric oxide.²


Beetroot Hummus

Roasted Beet Hummus

Makes about 2 cups of hummus


1 19oz can no added sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup tahini

Juice of 1/2 lemon

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium beet, peeled and roasted

1/2 tsp cumin

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp olive oil


  1. To roast beet: preheat oven to 375F, then rub the beet with oil and wrap in tin foil. Roast for about an hour or until beet is tender. Allow to cool and peel off skin.
  2. Place all ingredients (excluding olive oil) in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth.
  3. Adjust seasonings.
  4. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Serve with whole grain crackers or pita and vegetables.


  1. Wylie LJ, Kelly J, Bailey SJ, Blackwell JR, Skiba PF, Winyard PG, et al. Beetroot juice and exercise: pharmacodynamic and dose-response relationships. J Appl Physiol.2013;115(3):325-336. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00372.2013
  2. Nitrate (Beetroot Juice). Sports Dietitians Website. Published 2015. Accessed October 24, 2015.
  3. Sports Dietitians Website. Published 2015. Accessed February 24, 2016.

Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Hummus


DSC_0794This sun dried tomato and basil hummus is one of my favourite recipes to make. It is great as a dip for veggies, a spread in sandwiches, or in place of tomato sauce on pizza. Home made hummus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. If it becomes dry, try mixing in a bit more olive oil.

Chickpeas, the main ingredient in hummus, are beige-coloured, pea-shaped legumes. Although we often associate this food with the Mediterranean and Middle East they are also grown in the southern parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Canada is actually one of the top five exporters of chickpeas worldwide (Eat Right Ontario, 2014). Chickpeas are a good source of protein, dietary fibre, and B vitamins like folate.

Sun Dried Tomato and Basil Hummus

Makes about 2 cups


  • 1 19 oz can low sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup oil packed sun dried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (or more as per preference)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/3 cup water (as needed)


  1. Using a towel/paper towel, try to remove as many of the skins from the chickpeas as possible.
  2. Grind the garbanzo beans on their own in a food processor until they are smooth.
  3. Add sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, basil, and Parmesan cheese  to the chick peas and blend together for about 15 seconds.
  4. Pour in the olive oil; grind for an additional 15 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. If you find the hummus is too thick, add in water until you achieve a smooth consistency.


Recipe adapted from:

Arugula Pesto


This is a bright and fresh pesto that works as a dip, sandwich spread, or pasta sauce. It’s a great recipe because every time I serve it, it disappears along with all of the veggies I served it with! I first had it at a friend’s potluck, so thank you again to whoever brought it : )

Arugula is an aromatic salad green that is high in vitamins A and C and low in calories. If you can’t find any at the store (although it should be available year round) you can substitute water cress which has a similar peppery taste or fresh baby spinach.


Arugula Pesto


2 1/2 cups fresh arugula

1/2 cup almonds, toasted

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1/2 cup light feta cheese, crumbled

100ml olive oil

Juice from half a lemon


  1. Add all ingredients into a food processor and blend until almost smooth.
  2. Serve with fresh veggies, bread, or on pasta.

Recipe adapted from Choices Market


Zucchini Avocado Guacamole


Guacamole is a great dip for almost every occasion. It’s bright, fresh, and packed with nutrients such as potassium and healthy fats. However, the calories can add up quickly especially if you are eating it with chips! A great way to keep your calories down while still enjoying this delicious dip is to replace half of the avocado called for with a low calorie vegetable like zucchini or peas. Also, instead of serving guacamole with chips try having it with fresh veggies or whole grain crackers.

This recipe is great because it uses steamed zucchini to cut the calories, but still delivers on taste. You can cook the zucchini (as per the directions below) in a microwave or you can steam it on the stove.

Other variations: add more lime juice, mix in diced roma tomatoes, or sprinkle in some cumin

Per 1/2 cup portion, this dip serves up just under 100 calories


Zucchini Avocado Guacamole


1 large zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

1 large ripe avocado, cubed

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp lime juice

1/2 tsp hot sauce

1/4 tsp salt


  1. Place zucchini in a microwave-safe dish, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave on High until tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Drain zucchini, pressing lightly to squeeze out any liquid.
  3. Transfer the zucchini to a large bowl; add avocado, cilantro, onion, garlic, lime juice, hot sauce and salt and coarsely mash until combined, or until a desired consistency is achieved.

Recipe adapted from:


Roasted Beet Tapanade & Lentil Pecan Dip


I was inspired to make these dips after having dinner out at Heirloom Restaurant in December. I enjoyed their dips plate so much (especially the lentil hummus) that I knew I had to come home and try to recreate it for my family. Much to my disappointment I couldn’t find similar recipes online, but I did come across these two dips. They each had some of the elements I enjoyed from Heirloom (lentils and roasted beets), but also a few new ingredients like the miso paste. The roasted beet tapenade is fairly straight forward to make, but the lentil pecan dip may require a special trip to the grocery store. I was able to find all of the ingredients for both dips without too much trouble at Save On Foods. Unfortunately there were no small packages of miso paste, so to make the lentil pecan dip you will likely have to commit to a decent sized package (expect more recipes involving miso paste soon!). Both of these dips are great with raw vegetables, crackers, chips, and as sandwich spreads.

* Beets are an excellent source of folate and a very good source of the antioxidants manganese and vitamin C. They also are a good source of potassium and dietary fiber.

* Red lentils are a good source of dietary fibre, thiamin, iron, and folate.


Roasted Beet Tapande


4 medium beets (about 1 pound)

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 large head garlic, roasted*

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup walnuts, toasted

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 tsp dried fennel

1 1/2 tsp lemon peel, finely shredded

1/4 tsp ground black pepper


  1. Peel and trim beets. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Place in a roasting pan. Toss with the olive oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  2. Roast in a 425 degree F oven about 35 minutes, tossing occasionally.
  3. Place beets in a food processor. Add garlic, balsamic vinegar, and walnuts; cover and blend or process until a coarse puree is formed.
  4. Place in a bowl. Stir in feta cheese, fennel, lemon peel, and ground black pepper. Add additional salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar to taste.
  5. Serve at room temperature with veggies or chips.

* To roast the garlic:

  1. Remove the papery outer layers from garlic head but leave the skins of the cloves intact.
  2. Cut off 1/4 inch from the tips to expose individual cloves.
  3. Brush sides and top with 1 teaspoon olive oil.
  4. Wrap garlic head in aluminum foil and place cut side up in a small baking dish.
  5. Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until cloves feel soft when pressed; cool.
  6. Press garlic paste from individual cloves.

Recipe adapted from


Lentil Pecan Dip


1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ cups pecans, toasted

⅓ cup fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

2 tbsp miso paste

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp dried basil

½ tsp dried thyme

½ tsp ground black pepper


  1. Bring lentils and 3 cups water to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15-20 minutes. Drain, and cool.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until onion is golden. Cool.
  3. Pulse pecans in food processor until thick paste forms.
  4. Add lentils and onion mixture, and purée until smooth.
  5. Add parsley, miso paste, rice vinegar, basil, thyme, and black pepper; pulse until combined.
  6. Transfer to bowl. Cover, and chill 4 hours.

* You can choose your desired dip consistency by draining as little or as much water from the lentils as you would like.

Recipe adapted from