Wanna make healthy eating simpler? Focus on the foods to eat more of…which is what this series, Building a Plant-Centred Pantry, is all about. Here, I will talk about the foods I try to eat more of, why they are so great and how to get more of them. It’s kind of like the long-form version of my Healthy Grocery List on Pinterest.

Tahini…it’s like peanut butter, but made with sesame seeds.

I would not be surprised if every third recipe I create has tahini in it. I’m fairly obsessed with this creamy, savoury butter because it has a mild nuttiness that makes almost everything more delicious. Tahini is a paste ground from either raw or toasted sesame seeds. Common in Eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking, tahini is what gives hummus its depth.

Energizing and Mineral Rich

For such a tiny little morsel, sesame seeds are incredibly nutrient dense.

Two tablespoons of tahini have 5 grams of protein and almost 3 grams of fibre, but what makes it such an incredible addition to a plant-based diet is the remarkable amount of minerals it contains. Those same two tablespoons have 130mg of calcium, 2.7mg of iron and 10 micrograms of antioxidant selenium along with meaningful amounts of energizing copper, gut-healing zinc, soothing magnesium and heart healthy folate.

Sesame also contains two types of important functional compounds: lignans and sterols. Lignans are molecules that, when converted by your gut bacteria, help fight inflammation and support hormonal health. Sterols are substances that have been found to help lower cholesterol and protect the heart.

How to enjoy tahini more often…and where to find it.

These days, most supermarkets have tahini in the nut butter section but if you find yours doesn’t, seek out a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern market. As with all nut butter, once opened, keep it in the fridge for optimal freshness of the oils.

  1. Use it as a nut free alternative to peanut butter, sweetened with just a touch of maple or honey.
  2. Use 1 tsp – 1 tbsp as an emulsifier in salad dressings where you might otherwise use mustard.
  3. Use it as a base for dressings and sauces, thinned with water, like my maple tahini dressing. Pairs well with a range of flavours, such as lemon and garlic or miso and chile.
  4. Blend it into smoothies for a boost of minerals and healthy fats.
  5. Use in baking in place of half of the butter.
  6. Add 2-3 tablespoons to give soups a richer flavour.
  7. Add it to hot chocolate!
  8. Use it instead of cream to make a delicious creamy risotto.

Do you love tahini?? Be sure to tag me in your tahini creations on Instagram!

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash