When a lot of us were kids, sesame seeds were the enemy, sullying perfectly good hamburger buns. If you spent your childhood fastidiously picking sesame seeds off the tops of your cheeseburger, you're not alone. But times (and tastes!) change, and it's time to outgrow your aversion, because those tiny little seeds also happen to be the main component of a super nutrient-dense nut butter called tahini. Never heard of this Middle Eastern staple? Prepare to have your mind blown.
Tahini is a thick paste that’s made up of finely ground sesame seeds. With a consistency reminiscent of peanut butter and a delicate sesame flavor, tahini is a fantastic ingredient to add umami and tons of vitamins to any dish.
Sesame Seeds, Tahini and Nutrition
On their own, sesame seeds are a nutritional powerhouse, but because they’re tiny, it can be tough eat enough of them to reap their many benefits. But don’t let that be your excuse! Sesame seeds contain vitamins B1, B2, B5, and B15, and give you a massive boost of B vitamins and energy. B vitamins are essential to increasing your metabolic rate and regulating nervous system function, and studies show that the nutrients in sesame seeds are also excellent at protecting the liver and kidney from damage.
Tahini is also high in vitamin E, so it protects your heart and slows down premature aging and sagging skin. Even though tahini is a little high in fat (like most nut butters), these are healthy natural fats that will keep you satisfied.
Even if you've never had tahini on it's own, you probably already know the taste—it's the second ingredient in hummus. This tahini chicken recipe makes great use of the seed butter in a Mediterranean sauce. You don't have to limit your tahini use to savory dishes, though. Whip some honey into your tahini sauce for a sweet antibacterial and calcium-dense answer to artificially sweetened peanut butter, or for a proper dessert, try making these delicious date cookies.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont