Open Sesame to the Nutritious, Delicious World of Tahini

A bit thicker than your typical nut butter, sesame-seed paste, aka tahini or tahina, is high in minerals, low in unhealthy fats, and even contains 3 grams of protein per tablespoon. Popular for many millennia in North African and Middle-Eastern cooking, you’ll find tahini in classic savory recipes like hummus, and sweets like honey-laced halvah. Fabulous blended into soups and dips for creamy flavor, tahini also works well as a substitute for almond or cashew butter on toast. Here are four more reasons to open a jar of tahini next time you crave a little nut butter.

1.  Calcium. Sesame-seed paste is one of the highest nut or seed sources of this bone-building mineral, at 328 milligrams of calcium per 200-calorie serving.

2.  Zinc, Copper, Magnesium, and Manganese. Per tablespoon, tahini contains 10 percent or more of your recommended daily value for each of these minerals.

3.  Heart-healthy plant lignans. Sesame seeds contain cholesterol-lowering phytonutrients.

4.  Healthy fats. Sesame seeds are an excellent source of the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid, which lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol and increases “good” HDL cholesterol.

Rock the Kasbah Kitchen

1.  Stir a tablespoon or so into hot cereal, such as oatmeal. Top with chopped dates for truly Middle Eastern–inspired taste.

2.  Mix 1:1 with honey and spread on toast or substitute for PB&J on sandwiches.

3.  Make your own hummus. Blend ½ cup tahini into 1 cup cooked or canned and drained lentils, garbanzos, or white beans, along with fresh garlic, green onion, or shallots to taste. Add in ¼–½ cup water and/or extra-virgin olive oil to create a spreadable consistency.