One of the biggest concerns my friends have when I help them go dairy-free is getting enough calcium. I must admit, some of the richest and most accessible sources of calcium are dairy products. It might be hard to imagine a life without dairy when, like my friends, you’ve had it for most of your life. But the truth is that you don’t need dairy to get enough calcium.
There are many great non-dairy sources of calcium such as dark leafy greens (like collard greens, spinach and watercress), almonds, and sardines. But among them, one of the best and most unusual sources of calcium is tahini.
Nutritional Benefits of Tahini
A staple sauce in Middle Eastern cuisine made from sesame seeds, tahini contains arguably the highest concentration of calcium. In just 35 grams of tahini you could get about 35% of your recommended daily intake of calcium. Tahini gives you much more calcium than a glass of milk does! That’s not all! Tahini is a rich source of health-boosting B vitamins and vitamin E. Tahini is also high in essential minerals such as magnesium, potassium, iron, phosphorus, and lecithin. The best part is that due to its preparation as a paste and its high alkaline content, the nutritional benefits of tahini are easily digested and absorbed!
Uses for Tahini
While it features as one of the main ingredients in hummus, on its own tahini is quite versatile. Some of my favorite ways to use tahini is in smoothies and baked goods. Here are some more uses for tahini:
- Bake some yummy salted tahini chocolate chip cookies your family will finish before they even go into the cookie jar!
- Make a tahini miso sauce that you can use on just about everything from steamed veggies to a sandwich spread.
- Skip the chemical filled store-bought dressing by using tahini as a dip!
- Add it to many of your picnic staples such as coleslaw and deviled eggs.
For an added bonus, rather than buying store-bought tahini for all of these recipes, consider making your own quick and easy tahini.
Making Your Own Tahini
If you’ve made your own nut butters before, you’ll have no problem making tahini! When choosing sesame seeds for making tahini, you might find yourself asking “Should I get hulled or unhulled seeds?” As it turns out, keeping the hull on sesame seeds makes a big difference in taste. Tahini prepared from unhulled sesame seeds is often darker in appearance and taste bitter. To differentiate, tahini prepared from unhulled seeds is often called sesame butters. Most store-bought tahini will be prepared from hulled sesame seeds.
Try making this simple tahini recipe today.
Quick Homemade Tahini
- 1 cup (5 oz. or 140 grams) organic sesame seeds, hulled or unhulled (see above)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of a neutral oil such as mild olive oil or sesame oil
- Pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt, optional
- Optionally, toast your sesame seeds on a dry saucepan on medium-low heat. Stir continuously for about 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly colored. Take care not to burn your seeds. This adds a nice roasted, nutty flavour to your tahini. Allow to cool before proceeding.
- Process the seeds for 2 to 3 minutes until a crumbly paste forms.
- Add 3 tablespoons of your preferred neutral oil and process for 2 to 3 more minutes. As you do this, scrape the sides and bottom as necessary.
- Check the consistency of your tahini. It should come out smooth. If not, process it some more. You may optionally add another tablespoon of oil to make it thinner and smoother.
- Add salt to taste.
When stored in an airtight container, your tahini should keep for a month. If you notice the oil separating, simply give it a stir to redistribute the oil.