Tahini is one of my favourite foods in my pantry and during my whole30 has been a complete life saver. It makes salad dressings almost creamy, filling the void for cheese on my salads. For those who are not a familiar with this wonder ingredient, Tahini is just sesame seeds ground into a paste, just like you would a nut butter.
Not only is tahini completely delicious, it is also very good for you.
- An excellent source of protein, healthy fats, copper and manganese*
- A good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B1 (thiamin), zinc, selenium, essential fatty acids and vitamin E*
For all the tahini novices out there are a few of different varieties – unhulled, hulled, roasted and also raw. I normally alternate between unhulled and hulled but in my research into the awesomeness of tahini I made a few discoveries.
Hulled tahini is obviously more processed with outer layer removed from the little sesame seeds. In removing the hull they often remove lots of the nutrients and also lots of the cofactors that help with digestion so technically speaking you are not eating a whole food. Definitely unhulled is your best choice**.
Then there is more choice – raw or roasted? Normally I would always say raw is best but seeds are just like nuts and often with those guys raw is not necessarily best. You want tahini that has had the seeds soaked and then dehydrated/roasted. Just like ‘activating’ nuts, this soaking and dehydrating helps break down enzymes and the phytic acid content. Sesame seeds are very high in phytic acid and the problem is phytic acid is that it often binds to minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium and calcium in the GI tract meaning they can’t be absorbed in the intestine. Ek!*** Defeating the purpose of eating them in the first place. So I cannot stress enough the importance of eating properly prepared tahini. Read labels, talk to the people you buy it off.
I buy mine from Wholefoods on Smith St, Collingwood. They have a large dispenser vat of deliciousness. As I said, I normally alternated between hulled and unhulled but moving forward I will be sticking strictly to the unhulled variety. If you buy any good brands or know of good places to get great quality tahini, please leave a comment at the end of the post. You can actually make tahini yourself but you will need a bad-arse super charged power blender or thermomix.
Now we have completed tahini 101 what are the many wondrous uses for this power ingredient.
- Tahini, lemon and avocado – trio of heaven. Slice avocado, squeeze over lemon, drizzle over tahini and top with some salt and pepper.
- Roast your pumpkin in coconut oil and dust with cinnamon, serve drizzled with tahini and dukkah
- Roast a whole eggplant at 160 degrees C for 40-50 minutes (make sure you stab a few holes it in first), scoop out the soft flesh, add some crushed garlic, chopped flat leaf parsley, zest and juice of a lemon and a tablespoon of tahini. Serve as a dip or as a vegetable side in place of mash (great with lamb)
- Basic tahini salad dressing – ½ cup of olive oil, zest and juice of a lemon, half a clove of garlic crushed, salt pepper and a tablespoon of tahini in a jar and shake it like you mean it. If it is too thick at a dash of warm water and shake again
- Drizzle cooked middle eastern marinaded meats with tahini and a little lemon
- Over fruit, seriously! Strawberries and/or apples with tahini are a great combo. The best combo is good quality full fat natural yoghurt topped with sliced strawberries, a drizzle of tahini and a dusting of cinnamon
- Also good in smoothies, with coconut cream and even dark chocolate. Yes, I seriously love this stuff.
Do you like tahini as much as me? How do you eat it? Give me some more ideas