If you think tahini is just for homemade hummus recipes, think again! This nutty, caramel-flavored paste is incredibly versatile and easy to use. It can add a serious burst of delicious flavor to a number of sweet and savory dishes. And on top of that, it comes with a number of very impressive health benefits…
What Is Tahini?
Tahini is an oily Middle Eastern paste made from ground sesame seeds. You can get light or dark tahini – the light one is made out of white sesame seeds, creating a light golden paste and the dark one is made from black sesame seeds and has a much more intense flavor. Both are extremely nutritious. Sesame seeds are an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, and are packed full of amino acids, which are important in the development of protein. On top of that, this rich, nutty caramel-flavored paste provides the body with dietary fiber, phytonutrients and essential fats, including omega 3 and 6. Tahini is incredibly versatile as a cooking and baking ingredient, and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
Health Benefits Of Tahini
Besides the fact that tahini is super tasty, it is also extremely nutritious! However, when purchasing tahini, always go for the un-hulled option, which is made from whole sesame seeds, because many of the nutrients are stripped in the hulled version.
Some of the most impressive health benefits of tahini come from its high dosage of healthy fats. Sesame seeds have one of the highest oil content of any nuts and seeds, which is why it’s such a smooth paste, compared to other nut butters. With up to 55% healthy oil and 20% protein, tahini provides high amounts of healthy fats and essential amino acids. Amino acids are important building blocks for protein, which also benefits skin health. The fat in sesame seeds are mainly polyunsaturated, which can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and contain omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 boosts the immune system and brain function. Tahini also contains linoleic acid and oleic acid, which are also important fatty acids. Oleic acid has been shown to increase energy levels while helping to lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Linoleic acid improves hair health and natural wound healing.
Tahini may even have cardiovascular disease prevention abilities, because of the sesamolin and sesamin found in sesame seeds. Studies have shown these properties might help prevent atherothrombotic diseases, such as acute coronary syndrome.
As well as containing healthy fats, tahini provides essential vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron, zinc and vitamins E and B. A small amount of tahini goes a long way in boosting your essential nutrient needs for the day, giving you a significant dose of copper and iron.
How To Make Your Own Tahini
Because of the high oil content in sesame seeds, it is actually quite easy to make your own tahini. It is just a matter of blending toasted sesame seeds and extra virgin olive oil in a food processor! Here’s a video guide…
Tahini has rich, distinctive caramel and nut flavors, and is most well-known as an ingredient in hummus. However, there are so many more creative ways you can use tahini, in both sweet and savory recipes, including smoothies, cakes, protein balls, stir fries and salad dressings.
Roasted Carrot & Cauliflower Quinoa Salad – This salad is packed full of nutrient-dense ingredients, including quinoa, kale, carrots of all colors, cauliflower, olive oil, avocado, parsley, onion and lemon, tahini. With it, you get a beautiful, colorful meal, with lots of textures, and just about every nutrient your body needs in a day!
Falafel Bowl With Avocado, Sriracha & Tahini – This colorful, textural bowl of goodness is filling and satisfying, but will leave you feeling light and healthy. It comes jam-packed with nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and important flavonoids for a seriously powerful health kick. The recipe calls for chickpeas, parsley, cilantro, lemon, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, garlic, cardamom, olive oil, tahini, lemon, lettuce, radishes, beets, carrots, tomatoes, avocados and sriracha.
Grilled Eggplant With Tahini Yogurt Sauce – Eggplant, also known as aubergine, is a delicious and nutritious vegetable. And you can’t beat that melt-in-your-mouth effect grilling has on it! Add to that rich, nutty tahini, olive oil, almond yogurt, garlic, cumin, lemon, tomatoes and basil, and you have an irresistible light meal or starter that is sure to impress your guests.
Quinoa Chickpea Buddha Bowl – This recipe is quick and easy to make, incredibly nutritious, full of vegetables, protein and fiber, and, most importantly, delicious! It is filling and tasty enough on cold days and light and refreshing enough for hot weather as well. Ingredients include chickpeas, tahini, quinoa, olive oil, kale, garlic and lemon.
Baked Sweet Potato Fries With Tahini Dip – Sweet potato fries are such a winner! They are a low-carb and highly nutritious option compared to the usual potato fries, especially when you cook them in healthy oil and spices. This recipe calls for olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper, and the tahini dip includes Greek yogurt, garlic, lemon, olive oil, and, of course, tahini.
Tzimmes With Tahini Pesto & Pomegranate – This is a perfect option on its own, as a side, or as finger food at a get together. Made with carrots, sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, olive oil, cinnamon, cayenne, lemon, pomegranate, tahini, basil, cilantro and garlic, it is bursting with perfectly paired sweet and savory flavors, while tasting fresh and light!
Vegan Asian Cucumber Ribbon Salad With Ginger & Carrot Dressing – This light vegan salad is made with thin slivers of cucumbers, avocados and carrots, and topped with a creamy homemade ginger, carrot and tahini dressing, toasted sesame seeds and Sriracha. Fresh, healthy, vegan and gluten free! It is a perfect light lunch or side salad option.
Barbecue Lentil Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – Hearty, warming and super healthy – this stuffed sweet potato meal would rival any baked potato! The recipe calls for sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, lentils, crushed tomatoes, maple syrup, yellow mustard, liquid smoke (fancy!), smoked paprika, olive oil, tahini and non-dairy yogurt. Delicious and packed full of flavor and nutrients!
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