Tahini is one of my favorite (and most versatile) ingredients to keep in my kitchen — I use it multiple times per day! You may know the ground sesame paste as a star ingredient in hummus, but it has so many more applications beyond its chickpea friends, and is loaded with health benefits to boot.
Sesame, which is the only ingredient in tahini (well, it should be — be careful of additives!), is a seed packed with over a dozen health benefits. Sesame, and therefore tahini, is a great source of healthy fats and omega 3s, which are important for brain health. It’s full of vitamins such as copper, selenium, B-vitamins, and zinc, which can help boost and maintain a healthy immune system. Tahini is also loaded with is magnesium which is beneficial for bone health, muscle relaxation, headaches, and more.
Not yet convinced? I’m not done! Tahini is also high in calcium and iron, which is great for vegans (and everyone else), and is a packed source of antioxidants, especially lignans, which help regulate hormones and may even be linked to reducing the odds of certain types of cancers due to its estrogen-like qualities.
When buying tahini, opt for a high-quality sesame seed, with sesame being the only ingredient in the bottle. It should be smooth and creamy, not chalky, and ideally it should be organic. My go-to brand is Soom— their tahini is so creamy that I eat it straight out of the bottle. It’s a versatile ingredient that thrives in both sweet and savory applications! If you don’t want to lick it from a spoon, here a are a handful of other ways to integrate tahini into your diet.
1. As a boost for smoothies
Add one to two tablespoons of tahini to your smoothie for a boost of healthy fats, which will keep you full, as well as all the added vitamins and health benefits I outlined above. I love it in a smoothie with banana, cacao, cinnamon, cashew or almond milk, chia seeds, and a date. Oh, and throw in some greens for good measure!
2. As added goodness to adaptogenic elixirs
Instead of coffee, I make an elixir every morning loaded with healthy ingredients that help me start my day off right. In addition to cacao, adaptogens, functional mushrooms, coconut oil, dates, and hot water, I almost always include tahini, as it gives it a nutrient boost as well as a creamy thickness that makes it more luxurious and delicious. It also works beautifully in a chai latte.
3. As a dip and salad dressing
My go-to salad dressing includes olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, water, and tahini, plus any fresh herbs I might have on hand, which I whiz up in a blender. Use a little less water and you have the perfect dip or drizzle for your veggies as well. On good weeks I will prep a batch at the beginning of the week so I have it ready for any salad, roasted veggies, or bowls I create throughout the week.
4. As a swap for baking
I love baking with tahini! Since I don’t eat gluten or dairy, I end up using a lot of nut flours in baking, so when a recipe calls for a nut butter, I generally swap it with tahini. It gives me a variety of health benefits in addition to the nut flour I am using, and it almost always swaps out perfectly in recipes. My go-to tahini-swapped baking recipe are these paleo chocolate chip blondies (just try not to eat the whole tray at once).
5. As an easy way to seed cycle
Seed cycling is becoming more and more trendy — it means taking four different seeds during different phases of a menstruating person’s cycle. Since one of the seeds that’s used is sesame (during days 15-28 of your cycle) due to its abundance of lignans, you can use tahini to do the trick in any of the ways outlined above!
6. As a nut milk substitute
Sometimes, if I am out of nut milk, I will make one-minute tahini milk. I just blend tahini with water (and sometimes a pinch of salt) in my blender until it’s thick and creamy. It should stay in the fridge for a few days; just shake it up if it separates!
7. As a vehicle for plant-based creaminess
Last but not least, tahini is a wonderful way to add healthy creaminess while cooking for a plant-based lifestyle (or beyond). I am intrigued by using tahini in plant-based mac and cheese, or blending it into a soup to make up for what might be lacking if you do not consume dairy.