Here’s what I think is a great guest post by Nomi Shannon that was featured on Nick Polizzi’s Raw For Thirty site. It contains helpful information, especially if you’re new to tahini, and some tasty sounding recipes. I’ve been a fan of tahini ever since I started ordering an entree at a local vegetarian restaurant because I liked the tahini dressing that came with it so much. In fact, I used to pay extra for a double “helping.” I’ve tried to duplicate the taste, but have yet to come up with something quite as good. Maybe the recipe below with do the trick. I also like to have tahini on hand for making hummus, another good-for-you dish. Enjoy!
Tahini, a Nutritional Powerhouse
(by Nomi Shannon, The Raw Gourmet) Sesame seeds are best known as a topping for rolls and bread in North America, but in other parts of the world they are an important source of high quality protein and edible oil. These tiny light beige or black seeds are made up of 55% oil and 45% protein. The long shelf life of sesame oil is most likely due to its anti-oxidant properties.
Whole sesame seeds are commonly ground into a butter, called tahini, with a consistency a bit thinner than peanut butter.
Available roasted or raw, the healthiest choice would be tahini made out of raw sesame seeds, with nothing added, subtracted or refined. Available ground from hulled or unhulled seeds; it is a matter of preference, however the unhulled variety could have more roughage than desirable for some people. If the jar does not use the word ‘raw’ then assume it is made from toasted sesame seeds.
A fascinating discovery created interest in tahini.
During both World War II and the Korean war, Turkish aviators were well known for their physical and mental endurance. Upon investigation, it was discovered that tahini was an important part of their daily diet. Since then, growing interest in ethnic foods has introduced many people to hummus, a chick-pea-tahini spread or dip that is a staple in the mid-east, and baba-gannouj, which contains eggplant and tahini.
A nutritional powerhouse, tahini contains all the essential amino acids,
making it a high quality protein, plus it is rich in lecithin, vitamin E and calcium. It is easily digestible because its high *alkaline mineral content neutralizes the acid end products of the protein. Because of its non-acid nature, tahini is an ideal protein source for people with weak digestive systems, invalids and young children, and is an excellent source of quick energy for active people and athletes.
*Read this Self-help Health post about why being an alkaline food is so important:
Raw tahini can be purchased from several mail order sources, usually at great savings over health food store prices.
Many health food stores carry only roasted sesame tahini, but if you ask them to carry raw tahini they may comply, because the same sources that manufacture the roasted tahini also make raw tahini.
In the process of grinding the whole raw seeds into tahini, reputable companies keep the temperature from the friction in the grinding mechanism right around 100 ° degrees Fahrenheit, which is well below the 118 ° it takes to kill enzymes. The jars are then immediately capped with a special lid that creates a vacuum in the jar.
There is no need for pasteurization, or for the manufacturer to immerse the bottled raw tahini into boiling liquids or steam. You should be getting raw tahini that really is a raw food product. (This same information also applies to raw nut butters and is based on a conversation with a manufacturer. Hopefully it is true, but unfortunately there are no guarantees.)
Tahini is a useful food because of its healthful properties, pleasant taste and adaptability in recipes. At this point in time, it is also very economical. However, being a labor-intensive crop, as its popularity in the West increases, so probably will the price. Currently tahini is a third of the price of almond butter. If you’ve never used it, now would be a good time to begin. You will be able to make many dressings, soups and main courses that take advantage of all tahini has to offer.
Hummus is probably the most popular and familiar dish using tahini. Check out this link for several great recipes to try:
Other recipes made with Tahini:
from The Raw Gourmet (©Books Alive) by Nomi Shannon
Frozen Vanilla Bliss
This tastes very much like dairy soft serve ice cream, only better. Not only is it a great way to start your day but it also makes a healthy snack. Use more tahini if you are a bodybuilder or are trying to increase your (good) fat, protein and calorie intake. Bodybuilders might try 1 cup of water, 4 tablespoons of tahini and 2 frozen bananas. The addition of carob or other fruit works very well in this recipe–let your imagination run wild! If you prefer a sweeter treat, add one or two soaked dates, or a bit of maple syrup (which is not raw).
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons raw tahini, or more to taste
- 1-2 frozen bananas, cut in chunks
- Dash vanilla (optional)
In blender, combine water, tahini, banana and vanilla. Blend until thick and smooth. Serve immediately. Serves 1.
Creamy Carrot Asparagus Soup
This could be called the king of soups. The fiber in the asparagus creates a delightful texture, and the tahini gives the soup a smooth quality. Do not use the woody ends of the asparagus; chop only the most tender part, about two inches from the end. (Vegetarian dogs are known to love the woody ends of the asparagus; they chew on them like a bone!)
- 1 cup carrot juice
- 1 cup coarsely chopped asparagus, or more to taste
- 2 heaping tablespoons raw tahini or almond butter
- 1 teaspoon chopped onion, or more to taste
- Nama Shoyu (a raw soy sauce) or *celtic sea salt, to taste
- Dulse flakes, to taste
* I prefer using Himalayan crystal salt.
In a blender, combine the carrot juice, asparagus, tahini, onion, nama shoyu and dulse flakes. Blend all the ingredients until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Yields approximately 1 1/2 cups. Serves 1.
Variation: Heat soup in the top of a double boiler or over very low heat until it is warm to the touch. For extra spice, stir in 1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder. Or try it with a dash of curry powder or for a nice East Indian flair, use some garam masala.
Orange Tahini Dressing
This delightful light dressing only takes a few minutes to make. Its simplicity invites variation. Try adding 1-2 teaspoons tamari (a *soy sauce made without wheat), or 2 teaspoons poppy seeds and 1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder.
- 2 tablespoons raw tahini
- 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 teaspoon dulse flakes
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger root
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon curry powder
- Pinch sea salt
*Or how about using nutrient-dense coconut liquid aminos?!
In a small bowl, place the tahini. Add the orange juice gradually, blending it with the tahini. Add the dulse, ginger, cinnamon, curry, and salt. Yields approximately 1/2 cup.
Halvah is a candy popular in the Middle East, where it is made from ground sesame seeds. This is far superior to the store bought variety. For a lighter version, make this recipe with the almond pulp leftover from making almond milk. (Use the almond pulp the day you make it.)
- 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
- 1/2 cup raw tahini
- 3 tablespoons honey (or 3-4 soaked dates)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
In a food processor, place almonds and process until finely ground. Add the tahini, honey and vanilla, and process thoroughly. Press the mixture onto a plate or pan until it is 1/2″ (1 cm) thick (don’t worry about filling the pan, just press the mixture to the correct thickness). Chill the halvah in the refrigerator for 1 hour or more, then cut it into bite-sized pieces and roll into little balls. Yields 20-24 pieces.
Variation: Add 3 tablespoons carob to mixture.
FYI, I buy my tahini on-line because it’s much less expensive that way. One of my favorite discount places to shop is iHerb.com; use code CJG192 if you are a new customer and spend more than $40 and you will get $10 off, plus can advantage of their wonderful trial offer and specials sections. Shipping is free on orders of $20 and up; there’s an extra 5% off on orders over $60.
Vitacost.com is another on-line favorite of mine and each week adds tons of new items to their inventory. I think they are trying to give Amazon a run for their money. Anyway, if you are new to Vitacost and make your first purchase of $25 or more through the link on my webpage you will receive a $10 off coupon. And if you plan on shopping there again after that, be sure to sign up for a free acct. at eBates.com, if you don’t already have one. That way you can use the eBates portal to shop at Vitacost (and 100s of other popular stores) and earn cash back on your purchases. Plus, eBates also offers some reward–I got a $10 gift card–when you place your first $25 order at a store through them. How does it get any better than that?!
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Disclaimer: Please note that any information here is provided as a guideline only, and is not meant to substitute for the advice of your physician, nutritionist, trained healthcare practitioner, and/or inner guidance system. Always consult a professional before undertaking any change to your normal health routine.