Tahini is a very nutritious sesame seed nut butter widely used in the Mediterranean and Middle East. Tahini is a key ingredient in hummus, salad dressings, baking sauces, and halva (a dessert). Being a healthy whole food, sesame seeds add incredible nutritional value to the diet. They contain a high level of calcium, magnesium, iron, and Vit. B6! Sesame seeds also contain zinc, selenium, copper, phosphorus, and Vit. E, which are not listed on this RDA label. The best source of nutrition is directly from food, so consider adding sesame seeds into your diet.
- Excellent source of protein, especially when combined with legumes.
- Lowers blood pressure with its high magnesium level.
- Builds bone with the high calcium level.
- Reduces inflammation with its high sesamin lignan.
- Contains healthy fats for moderating cholesterol.
- Aids in building blood with iron, copper, and Vit. B6.
- Low in carbs, high in protein and healthy fat.
- Good source of fiber for feeding the gut microbiome.
- High in antioxidants for counteracting cellular oxidation.
- Contains zinc for supporting the immune system.
- Thyroid support with high the selenium content.
- Phytoestrogens aid in reducing menopausal symptoms.
Sesame seeds are an ancient food source. An archeological excavation in India found charred sesame seeds dating back to approximately 3500 BC. Also, an Egyptian scroll dating back to approximately 3600 BC mentioned these therapeutic seeds. Sesame is called a “survivor crop” being capable of growing in high heat areas and it manages well through drought.
Japan and China are the leading importers of sesame seeds and its rich oil. Tanzania, Myanmar, India, and Sudan are the leader exporters accounting for six million tons of seeds per year. The flavor of sesame is enjoyed across all continents.
- 1 (15-ounce) can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) or 2 C. cooked
- 2-3 Tbsp. water
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (about juice of 1 lemon)
- 2 Tbsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Drain the chickpeas and rinse.
- In a blender or food processor, puree all of the ingredients for a couple of minutes on low until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Start with only two tablespoons of water and add more to reach a desired consistency.
- Try adding a different seasoning with each batch to find a favorite flavor. Plain is always good!
- 1/3 cup tahini (ground sesame seeds)
- 1 juiced lemon (about 3 Tbsp.)
- 1-2 Tbsp. maple syrup (or honey)
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 clove garlic (minced) (optional)
- Water (to thin)
- Mix tahini, lemon juice, maple syrup and salt. If adding garlic, add it now.
- Whisk to combine. Then slowly whisk in water until creamy and pourable. The mixture may be thick at first, but continue adding water a little at a time until smooth.
- Taste and adjust flavor, adding more lemon juice for acidity, salt for saltiness, or maple syrup for sweetness.
There are numerous halva recipes online with cooked sesame seeds and a sweetener for hardening the dessert. Halva is one of the most popular desserts in the Middle East. A healthy alternative can be made with raw tahini (buy premade or grind your own sesame seeds) blended with dates, honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or another healthy sweetener. Add one-half to one teaspoon vanilla extract to the batch for a nice flavor. If using one cup of tahini or ground sesame seeds (paste) add one-half cup of your choice of sweetener for a very rich dessert. But, adding just a few tablespoons of sweetener might be sweet enough for you! What a delightfully nutritious treat!
To reduce phytic acid (a nutrient inhibitor), sesame seeds may be soaked overnight before using. As with all nuts and seeds, soaking increases nutrient availability. After soaking, rinse the seeds with water in a fine mesh strainer and drain off the water before using. Drained sesame seeds may be added to smoothies, similarly to adding flax seeds for their nutritional value.
Enjoy trying the wide variety of delicious and nutritious sesame seed food products!