You’re used to seeing them on top of your burger buns and maybe mixed in with your Chinese food, but sesame seeds have many more ways they can be used. As one of the best vegan sources of calcium, plus a wealth of protein and other nutrients, you’re going to want to add these gold slivers to your diet pronto.
The value of sesame seeds is two fold: the seeds themselves, and also the beloved sauce they create called tahini. Tahini is nothing more than ground sesame seeds which can be raw or roasted, peeled or unpeeled, but no other ingredients are needed than the seeds themselves. The traditional use for tahini is in hummus, however modern vegans are using it for everything from a sweet potato drizzle to a smoothie enhancer.
Just two tablespoons of tahini pack in about 8g of protein, which makes this such a valuable resource for vegans. Depending on the type of tahini that you get (raw, peeled, etc.), there also can be a host of nutrients, particularly calcium.
Nutrition Info for Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are also an excellent source of selenium, which makes them helpful for boosting the immune system, including against many types of viral infections. Regular consumption of selenium-rich foods is ideal for obtaining the immune-boosting benefits. However, it’s also important to ensure that you don’t get too much as excess selenium can lead to severe (deadly) side effects! No more than 1 cup of sesame seeds should be consumed daily to avoid selenium toxicity. (Source: U.S. National Libray of Medicine, The influence of selenium on immune responses.) (Source: Dewy Blueberry, Is the Selenium Level in Tahini Dangerous?)
Ways to Use Sesame Seeds
- Sprinkle onto yogurt
- Add to a smoothie
- Mix into a stir fry medley
- Toss onto salads
- Make into power bars
- Sprinkle on top of homemade breads and baked goods (before they bake)
- Sesame Seed cookies (recipe coming soon)
Ways to Use Tahini
- Drizzle over foods like a sauce, such as potatoes, plant-based burgers or cooked chickpeas
- Add to hummus (the traditional method)
- Mix into smoothies
- Drizzle over yogurt
- Store sesame seeds in a sugar pourer for easy use.
- If you don’t need or want to measure the amount of tahini you use every time, a squeeze bottle or oil pourer makes it so much easier to enjoy.
- Before purchasing a product, be sure to inspect the nutrition label for the calcium and iron content to ensure you’re getting a product that will supply you with the best nutrition.
Where to Buy Sesame Seeds
Unfortunately, major supermarkets usually do not carry large servings of sesame seeds (only seasoning-size versions), and if they do, it may or may not be a high-quality version packed with nutrients. The best place to find sesame seeds is in smaller health and wellness stores or online. If your local grocery does carry them, look in the bulk section rather than in the seeds/nuts aisle. After looking through many different sesame seed products, the one listed here (Terrasoul 2lb bag) from Amazon has the highest nutritional value of any we’ve seen.
Tahini on the other hand is much easier to find, including at major supermarkets. We recommend trying multiple different kinds so that you can figure out which flavor is your favorite (raw vs. roasted, peeled vs. unpeeled, etc.). The flavors can be so distinctly different that you may hate (never want to eat again) one type of tahini and love (want to eat daily) another.
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See recipes that contain sesame seeds or tahini here.