Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds and can be used in a ton of different recipes. It originates from North African, Greek, Iranian, Middle Eastern, and Turkish cuisine and can be used in savory or sweet dishes. Tahini comes in two forms: hulled and unhulled. Unhulled tahini is better for you as it leaves the sesame seeds intact when grinding it into a paste, keeping the nutritional value. Hulled tahini is stripped of all it’s nutrients giving it less benefits but a smoother consistency.
Tahini is rich in many nutrients and vitamins including phosphorus, lecithin, magnesium, potassium, and iron. It is also high in protein and calories and should be eaten in moderation or be added to recipes. The nutrition breakdown of 2 tablespoons (tbsps) of tahini (30g) is:
- 178 calories
- 16.13g fat (14g of fat are monounsaturated being beneficial to heart health)
- 6.36g carbohydrates
- 2.8g fiber
- 0.15g sugar
- 5.1g protein
Tahini contains antioxidant nutrients called lignans which help support the immune system and balance the bodies hormones. For women experiencing problematic hormone imbalances or going through menopause, tahini is a great food for you to incorporate into your diet as it contains phytoestrogens, which reduce menopause symptoms such as: hot flashes, bone loss, weakness, mood changes, and low sex drive. Phytoestrogens may also help protect the body from cancers related to hormone production (ie. breast and ovarian cancers).
Studies have also shown that tahini helps patients with osteoarthritis because it has positive effects on oxidative stress and cholesterol levels in the body. A study group who consumed sesame regularly reported less knee pain from their osteoarthritis and did not experience any negative side effects from the tylenol they were given. “Because tahini contains such high levels of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats it also plays a role in lowering cholesterol levels protecting the heart from disease and stroke.”
The fatty acids, amino acids, and vitamins E & B in tahini all work together to help your skin stay youthful and protect against aging. Tahini is a natural antifungal and antibacterial agent which means that it kills bacteria that are trying to clog pores. The fats within tahini also help to keep the skin moist and bring inflammation down in the body. If you are suffering from dry damaged skin, adding a bit of tahini to your regular diet may help.
I hope you enjoy this delicious garlicky lemon tahini dressing by adding it to your burgers, falafels, salads, avocado toast, and veggie wraps. While taking in all the added benefits it provides.
Garlicky Lemon Tahini Dressing
- 1/3 cup tahini
- 1/2 cup water (I prefer using warm water)
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp garlic powder (2 garlic cloves)
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Peel and mince garlic cloves (if using instead of garlic powder).
- Juice 1 fresh lemon, enough to get 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.
- Blend all ingredients in a nutribullet or small blender cup until smooth (I use the small 300g salad dressing cups on my ninja blender).
- Pour over salad, burrito bowl, or potatoes and enjoy!
PLANT BASED COMFORT FOOD! Woo! Without the guilt. 😉
This plant based mac and cheese is absolutely the most delicious version of mac and cheese I have tasted since going vegan. I have tried many different versions of plant based mac and cheese but honestly is one wins in the categories of taste, texture, and most importantly health. This recipe has evolved over time from many other versions of vegan mac and cheese but I always had a list of criteria that I wanted out of my own mac and cheese recipe:
- No oil
- No plant based butter or margarine
- It needed to have nuts (preferably cashews) to give it a creamy texture and stimulate our taste receptors in our mouth for fat and salt
- It needed to be made out of veggies to keep it healthy and plant based
- It needed to be simple enough that any 8 year old could make it for their mother on mother’s day 🙂 (with help when straining the veggies of course)
As a child, I loved mac and cheese. When my mom would come home from the grocery store with those KD boxes, I knew it was going to be an awesome girls day (since my dad never really enjoyed KD). I remember being a little girl and getting my warm creamy bowl of mac and cheese and sitting on my bean bag chair to devour it. I remember in the summer on lake huron, in Canada, swimming all morning from 8am to noon with my cousins only to realize we were all starving. Soaking wet, and shivering, we would run up to my grandma’s camp to find she had just finished making a huge pot of mac and cheese.
Best. Day. Ever!
Then as I got older I started realizing that even though I loved the taste and memories associated with mac and cheese, it was not healthy for me in anyway. It was actually completely detrimental to my health and… did not keep me full.
However, I still couldn’t shake the mac and cheese monster. I started buying the whole wheat KD mac and cheese, but honestly, I should have just tossed my money out the window because it was disgusting. I started thinking “well, okay, that’s not the solution”…
Fast forward to 2018 and I have mastered a health promoting, tasty version of mac and cheese that takes comfort food to a whole other level. I can still enjoy my beloved mac and cheese after a long stressful day or on the weekends while staying healthy and feeling no guilt. When I have children of my own I will be able to give this to them and their friends during sleepovers and watch them devour their bowls, while providing them with essential nutrients and not watching them get a tummy ache. Now at my grandma’s camp on lake huron, I can make this for my little cousins after we are all done swimming for the morning and help them realize that eating plants can be really tasty and satisfying.
I hope this recipe brings you joy, happiness and love while providing you and your family with delicious comfort food.
Creamy Vegan Mac and Cheese
- 1/2 cup cashews
- 1 medium carrot or 1/2 cup chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup chopped onion (I prefer red onion)
- 2 cups chopped yellow potato
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup water from boiled veg or regular water
- 1 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp paprika (I recommend smoked paprika)
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (I like it cheesy)
- 1/2 small lemon or 1 tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp salt (not necessary) - if desired
- 1 box of pasta (450-500g)
1. Boil two pots of water, one for your pasta and one for your vegetables.
2. Chop onions, carrots and potatoes (peel potatoes if desired). Places vegetables in boiling water along with cashews until vegetables are soft enough to pierce with a fork and completely cooked. Do not worry about the cashews, they will be soft enough to smoothly blend at this point.
3. While the vegetables are cooking, boil the pasta.
. When vegetables and cashews are soft, add them to a high speed blender (I use a ninja blender) and add in all the spices, coconut milk, water from boiling the veggies (or regular water if there is not enough), nutritional yeast, and lemon juice. Blend until creamy and smooth.
5. Drain the pasta and place back in the pot or in a large bowl.
6. Pour the creamy "cheese" sauce over the pasta and serve right away, as it is best when warm.
**You will probably have extra cheese sauce left over to eat on tacos, burrito bowls, boiled/steamed veggies, or mashed potatoes.**