Some food staples are so simple and naturally vegan-friendly, while others are not as they traditionally contain some animal-based ingredients. Now the question is, where does tahini stand?
If you’ve heard of hummus, you have heard of tahini – one of the main ingredients in hummus is tahini. Hummus is one of the most popular dips among vegan people, so it’s easy to guess that tahini must be vegan-friendly. And you are right, it is!
But tahini is so much more than just a component of hummus. The Middle Eastern sesame seed butter can be used in numerous different ways and is something that you should have in your pantry at all times. So what exactly is tahini, and how is it used?
What is Tahini?
Originating in the Middle East, tahini has grown popular all around the globe – and is no longer only used in Middle Eastern cuisine. And rightfully so – it’s delicious and complements both savory and sweet meals. But what exactly is tahini?
Tahini is crushed sesame seed paste made from toasted ground sesame seeds. It has a thick, smooth texture similar to peanut butter.
Tahini can be used on its own – as a dip or a bread spread. Or it can be used as an ingredient in sauces and salad dressings. It is also a crucial component in dips such as hummus and Baba Ghanoush. Some people even use tahini in baking to achieve a thick texture and a nutty flavor. The possibilities are endless!
Is Tahini vegan?
Tahini is essentially nut butter. Technically, you can make tahini only using sesame seeds and nothing else. Although a few other ingredients are sometimes added to give the sauce a smoother and creamier texture and more taste. Most tahini sauces contain three components.
- Sesame seeds – Hulled and toasted sesame seeds are commonly used. But it’s possible to make tahini with raw and unhulled sesame seeds.
- Oil – This is not an essential ingredient. However, just a few teaspoons of vegetable oil gives tahini a creamy and smooth texture.
- Salt – Often added to season.
You can let out a sigh of relief – tahini is 100% suitable for vegans. As you can see, the tasty sauce is made from a few simple ingredients, all of which are entirely plant-based.
Is tahini raw vegan?
Just like vegans, raw vegans do not consume anything made from animals or animal-based ingredients. But raw veganism takes it a step further. People following this diet either consume food in its raw form or cooked under 118° F. A raw vegan diet has many benefits – people do it to alkalize their body, improve their gut health, prevent chronic illnesses, and even improve their heart health. If you have recently switched from a vegan lifestyle to a raw vegan one, you might wonder whether you can still use tahini in your meals.
Raw vegans might want to avoid buying tahini from stores. That’s because those jars of sauce are typically made from toasted sesame seeds. The seeds are toasted at high temperatures that are not suitable for raw people.
Looking up tahini recipes online, you will notice that most of them call for toasted sesame seeds. But it is possible to make the sauce with raw sesame seeds instead. Flaxseed oil and avocado oil are my favorites for raw tahini!
Is tahini healthy?
Some people go vegan for health reasons. For me, it has always been for ethical reasons – the health benefits of a vegan diet are just a bonus. But still, it’s good to be aware of how useful or harmful certain foods are. That way, we can be mindful of the amounts we consume.
Tahini is in no way unhealthy for us. In fact, it has quite a few health benefits! The main component in tahini is sesame seeds, and sesame seeds are packed with nutrients!
- Rich in vitamins and minerals – Tahini contains loads of copper. Copper helps your body control blood pressure, form blood clots, absorb iron, and prevent anemia. Tahini is also rich in manganese and phosphorus. And a great source of vitamins B1 and B6.
- Lowers inflammation – There are anti-inflammation antioxidants in tahini that can help to reduce inflammation in your body.
- Boost heart health – Tahini is full of healthy fats, which can help with high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. That helps to lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- May prevent cancer – Sesamol is a natural component found in sesame seeds. And sesamol is thought to have anti-cancer properties. Tahini is also believed to be good for balancing your hormone system and could help to prevent hormone-related cancers.
How to make tahini at home?
Tahini sauce is essential that every household should have in their pantry. But if you’re anything like me and use it almost daily, buying jars from the store can add up and turn pretty expensive. So why not experiment in your kitchen and try to make it yourself? I promise, once you see how simple and fast it is, you’ll not miss the store-bought jars. You’re good to go if you have a food processor or a high-powered blender (Vitamix, for example). To make your own tahini, you’ll need the following ingredients.
- Sesame seeds – I prefer using hulled sesame seeds as they have that nutty flavor. Most tahinis sold at supermarkets are made from hulled sesame seeds too. But you can use unhulled and sprouted sesame seeds if you prefer – it will result in a more bitter sauce.
- Oil – You can use olive oil or any other vegetable oil. While it’s not an essential ingredient, I prefer to add oil to get that creamy consistency.
- Salt – This is an optional ingredient, but it makes the sauce tastier.
Now that you have gathered all the necessary ingredients, you’ll need less than an hour to turn them into a delicious sauce. Here are the simple step-by-step instructions to follow to make your homemade tahini.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Toast sesame seeds for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing the seeds frequently with a spatula. Do not allow them to brown or burn. Remove the seeds from the oven, and let them cool for 20 minutes. You can also toast the seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir the seeds frequently until they are lightly colored but not brown, or about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the toasted seeds to a tray and let them cool completely.
- Pour sesame seeds into the food processor. Slowly drizzle in the oil while the processor is running, blending for 2 minutes. Check the consistency. The goal is a thick yet pourable texture. Add more oil and blend until desired consistency.
- Add salt to taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tahini sauce is fully vegan! The sauce is made from sesame seeds, and sometimes oil and salt are added.
Tahini dressing is safe for vegans to consume.
Lemon tahini at Panera is completely vegan-friendly.
Raw vegans might want to avoid buying tahini from stores because those jars of sauce are typically made from toasted sesame seeds.
However, you can make your own Tahini sauce at home that is totally Raw vegan.