Tahini is peanut butter's Middle Eastern kissing cousin, and this sesame seed paste is fast becoming a pantry staple. Here are five ways to use this nutritional overachiever that go well beyond humble hummus.
As a Mood-Boosting Breakfast Bowl
Tahini has more fiber than most nut butters, and a study in the journal Nutrients found that higher intakes of dietary fiber can help combat depression.
Granola Tahini Smoothie Bowl
Blend together ¼ cup milk, ⅔ cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon tahini, 2 pitted soft dates, ½ teaspoon vanilla, ⅛ teaspoon cardamom and 1 frozen chopped banana. Pour into a bowl and top with ½ cup granola.
As a Cancer-Busting Creamy Soup
Tahini provides sesamin, a unique compound reputed to have cancer-fighting powers: It appears that sesamin fends off inflammation and helps put the brakes on cancerous cell division.
Roasted Cauliflower Tahini Soup
Slice 1 head cauliflower into 1-inch florets, and cut 1 yellow onion into 1-inch-thick pieces. Toss with 4 whole peeled garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon oil and ½ teaspoon salt. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet and roast 25 minutes at 400 F, stirring halfway through. Blend together 4 cups vegetable broth, roasted cauliflower/garlic/onions, ¼ cup tahini, juice of ½ lemon and 2 teaspoons za’atar seasoning until smooth.
As Bone-Bolstering Energy Balls
Sesame seeds are rich in calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that play a vital role in maintaining bone health. Phosphorus also acts as a buffer and helps maintain your body’s pH.
Apricot Tahini Balls
Pulverize ¾ cup rolled oats in a food processor. Add 1 cup dried apricots, ¼ cup tahini, ¼ cup ground flaxseed, 3 tablespoons honey, zest of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon ginger powder and ⅛ teaspoon salt and process until a sticky mixture is formed. Using damp hands, roll into 1-inch balls. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
As an Energizing Sauce
Tahini boasts a good cache of thiamine, the B vitamin involved in maintaining metabolism and helping break down and produce energy from the carbs, fats and protein in your diet.
Smoky Tahini Sauce
Whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons tahini, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 grated garlic clove, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon cumin powder and a couple pinches salt. (Thin if needed by stirring in warm water 1 teaspoon at a time.) Use sauce on grain bowls, steamed vegetables, sweet potatoes or grilled chicken and fish.
As a Heart-Healthy Muffin
A good chunk of the calories in tahini hail from unsaturated fat, and a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that replacing 10 percent of the dietary calories that come from saturated fat with unsaturated fat improves the markers associated with heart health.
Tahini Banana Bread Muffins
Stir together 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, ¾ teaspoon baking soda and ¼ teaspoon salt. In a separate bowl, beat 2 eggs, then stir in 3 mashed bananas, ½ cup brown sugar, ⅓ cup tahini, ¼ cup melted butter and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Combine wet and dry ingredients, then fold in ⅓ cup dark chocolate chips. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups, sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake 20 minutes at 350 F, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out nearly clean.