Most people know tahini as a main ingredient in hummus; a thick, somewhat bitter paste made of ground sesame seeds. There are, however, so many yummy ways to use tahini. I love using it in a tasty sauce to pour over falafel, and it makes a delicious and easy creamy salad dressing. Tahini is also used in desserts like halva and is sometimes mixed with honey for a sweet spread. The idea of using tahini as a fruit dip came to me one day after I had mixed up some of my favorite salad dressing. I grabbed an apple slice from my salad and dipped it in the dressing to check for taste, and thought, dang… this would make a delicious fruit dip!
After a few minor tweaks with sweetener and the amount of water mixed in, it was transformed from salad dressing to a sweet and creamy dip. I love this stuff! My daughter and I were eating it straight from our spoons. Forget the apple and orange slices, I could just dip my face in it, and given my penchant for kitchen beauty experiments, that really wouldn’t be too far out of the realm of possibilities. For now though, I’d recommend dipping in any kind of fruit – apples, oranges, kiwi, bananas. Or you could also use it as a yummy spread on toast, cracker, or rice cakes. I had a banana all set to slice and include in my photos, but mommy brain took over and I left it sitting there, completely forgetting about it until I was done taking pictures and cleaning up. Something else I remembered later: spicing up my fruit, especially the apples. I’ve done everything from cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom to Chinese Five Spice. It’s a must-try!
Let’s get back to tahini and chat a little about its nutritional profile for a moment, shall we? Sesame seeds, and the creamy product of those little seeds being pulverized mechanically (tahini), is quite a nutritional powerhouse. I didn’t even realize all the benefits that I was reaping with my tahini obsession. Check them out:
Just 2 Tablespoons of tahini has…
- 5 grams of protein
- 3 grams of fiber
- 12% Daily Recommended Intake of calcium
- 12% DRI of zinc
- 14% DRI of iron
- 22% DRI of phosphorous
- 22% DRI of manganese
- 24% DRI of magnesium
- 80% DRI of copper
- plenty of healthy fats (great for your heart, and skin!)
While the seeds are tough to digest, the paste from grinding sesame seeds (tahini) is much easier on the digestive system and the nutrients are more readily absorbed. Health wise you’ll benefit your heart, help prevent cancer, and keep your bones strong. Sesame seeds have unique chemical compounds called lignans, and studies have shown that consuming tahini on a regular basis can help lower cholesterol. Tahini consumption may also help balance hormones, improve arthritis symptoms, and reduce blood pressure.
Including tahini in your diet may also help boost your beauty. Sesame seeds contain B vitamins, as well as selenium, zinc, and protein, all of which are essential for healthy hair. Zinc and selenium are also important for clear skin, as many acne sufferers are deficient in these nutrients. Tahini is an awesome source of copper, which is important for absorption of iron, formation of collagen (think firm, plump skin), a healthy immune system, preventing osteoporosis, and keeping you energized. Copper is also essential for keeping the pigment in your hair and skin vibrant. Tahini and sesame seeds are high in antioxidants, another way they help keep you looking and feeling young. Eating tahini on a regular basis my also support liver health, as sesame seeds are high in the amino acid methionine, a natural detoxifier.
There are two different kinds of tahini you may come across, hulled and unhulled. Unhulled tahini is made from the whole tahini seeds, so all of those nutritional goodies remain intact. The calcium content, for example, is 60% higher in unhulled tahini than hulled. It is also quite bitter/strong in flavor. I recommend maybe starting out with hulled tahini (you will note in the store that it is lighter in color, more of a beige than a tan or light brown) and then eventually when you’re accustomed to the flavor, work your way toward using unhulled. I have been buying the more mild tasting hulled variety lately, because my daughter is more likely to try it. Before that I was using unhulled tahini, and had gotten used to the strong taste. Another idea, especially for kids (or adults!) who are sensitive to strong flavors, is to mix up part almond butter and part tahini. It works great in this dip!
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that tahini is more than just a paste that you add to your hummus. If you haven’t tried it in a sweeter recipe, I highly recommend making this easy dip. Just a handful of ingredients, no special equipment needed, and lots of yummy possibilities for enjoying it. Now go get dippin’!
Sweet and Creamy Maple Tahini Fruit Dip
makes about 3/4-1 cup
- 1/2 cup tahini
- juice from 1 orange (or about 3-4 tbsp store bought orange juice)
- 1 tbsp of lemon juice (optional)
- 2 Tbsp of maple syrup (or more to taste)
- 2-3 Tbsp of water to thin (or more as desired)
- pinch of sea salt
Simply add all ingredients to a bowl and mix mix mix with a spoon until smooth and creamy. Taste and add more maple syrup if desired. Add more water depending on how thin you’d like it. It will thicken up in the fridge as it cools. Store in the fridge. Serve with sliced apples, orange slices, sliced kiwi, bananas or any other fruit. Can also be used as a yummy spread on crackers or toast.
A bonus to mixing tahini with orange and lemon juice is that the vitamin C from citrus fruit helps your body absorb the iron from the tahini.