Tahini - sesame seed paste

Tahini paste is made from crushed sesame seeds and has quite a nutty taste. It is available in jars, cans and also in dehydrated form. Tahini should keep in a sealed jar in the refridgerator for a number of weeks. There are two main types of tahini, hulled and unhulled.

Hulled tahini does not grind the whole sesame seed and because of this it does not contain as much calcium, protein and vitamins as unhulled. Unhulled tahini is made from the whole sesame seed and it the most nutritionally packed type of tahini. Hulled tahini is not as bitter tasting as the unhulled type.

Raw tahini contains more nutrients than roasted tahini.

Benefits of tahini

Tahini is a source of calcium, protein and B vitamins. Tahini is a good source of essential fatty acids (EFA), these EFA's are used in helping to maintain healthy skin.

Because one of the ingredients in tahini is sesame oil it has quite a high calorie content. Because of this tahini should be used in moderation. The good news is the majority of fats in tahini are unsaturated rather than saturated.

Tahini is a source of vitamin E which helps to reduce the rate of ageing in body cells.

Sesame seeds are also a good source of the amino acid Methionine. Methionine is an important contributor to liver detoxification and helps with the absorption of other amino acids.

Tahini uses

Tahini is a frequently used ingredient for people on a raw food diet. It can be used by itself as dip with cruidite or roasted vegetables as well as being used as a spread on bread (it is commonly quoted as being a 'peanut butter alternative' but can also be used as a non dairy butter / margarine).

Tahini is also a key ingredient in Houmous / Hummus. Hummus originates from the middle east and is a chick pea based spread. Hummus is made using chick peas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Hummus is now a common part of peoples diet in Israel, Greece and Turkey. Hummus goes very well with flat breads such as pitta bread.

Another middle east dish that uses tahini is Baba ganoush. This dish uses roasted Aubergine (egg plant), garlic, ground cumin, lemon juice and salt.

Hummus recipe:

1 cup chickpeas - thoroughly cooked
1/4 cup Tahini
1/4 cup olive oil
2 - 3 cloves of garlic
1 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt

Crush the garlic and mix with the salt, add these and the all the other ingredients (apart from the lemon juice and olive oil) into a blender. Blend and gradually add both the lemon juice and the olive oil. Hummus can be used as a dip or a spread, try carrot and pineapple crudite, serve with raw almonds and olives and warm pitta bread. This is delicous natural food.