So what is tahina? Tahina (also known as tahini, tehini) is a pureed sesame paste made of sesame seeds. It is seasoned with just a few ingredients (more on that later) and is served as a condiment, dip, salad dressing, or even as an appetizer with some toasted pita and olives. Tahina is delicious AND nutritious. And amongst tahina lovers there is much argument about which brand of tahini paste (the stuff you buy in the jar) to use to make the best tahina (the end product).
Tahina is used in all different kinds of middle eastern dishes, including in Hummus (its much more famous cousin). YUP, tahina is one of the main ingredients in hummus and some would argue your hummus is only as good as the kind of tahina you put it in. But tahina is much more versatile than hummus. You can dip some vegetables in it (my favorite is dipping raw mushrooms in tahina), you can top a salad with it, you can drizzle it over roasted vegetables (like roasted cauliflower- YUM!), and you can use it in a sandwich instead of mayo.
One of my favorite tahina tips of all time was mixing a little bit of tahini (straight from the jar) into my kid’s pureed vegetables. This was a great way to get in extra nutrition AND kept their GI tract regular (just a few tablespoons of tahina have more than 3 grams of fiber). It also helped get them used to the taste.
So how good for you is tahina? Well it is a seed… and nuts and seeds should definitely be eaten in moderation. Tahina is made up of healthy unsaturated fat. It is loaded with vitamin E and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B15. It is a great source of calcium,potassium, iron, and has more protein than other seeds and nuts!
What does this all mean? It’s good for your heart! Tahina has the good fats that help lower cholesterol AND omega-3 fatty acids which help lower inflammation and inflammatory diseases like heart disease. It’s good for fighting cancer! Sesame seed plants contain lignans, which have been shown to have anticancer effects.Sesame seeds have also been known to help boost nutrient absorption, which also helps prevent cancer. It’s good for your gut and your colon! Packed with fiber, tahina helps you feel full, and clean out your colon. It’s good for your bones! Tahina is a great source of calcium (it has twice as much as peanut butter). Coupled with its nutrient absorption superpower, this makes tahina help you build strong bones, and help optimize your bone density (by the way-milk does the opposite – does not let you efficiently absorb the calcium). Oh, plus it has Iron (one serving has as much as a 3 ounce steak).
Need I say more? Tahina is legit!
Yes, you can mix it in a bowl with a spoon in 5 minutes or less… BUT, I have found this to be the best way to get the best tahina (and have received many compliments on it).
½-1 cup of raw tahini
3 lemons juiced (or more)
3-5 garlic cloves (to your taste)
¼-½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup of water (or more)
Key number one! Use a food processor or something like it (it makes a difference). I use the ninja express chop when I’m making a smaller amount. And a food processor if I’m making a bigger amount.
What to look for: At this point, you adjust to your taste. If it tastes too much like the paste, add more lemon. If it’s not liquidy enough, add more water. If you want a little more salt, add some. The garlic and lemon are key to make it yummy.