Do you love tahini? This slightly oily paste made from sesame seeds has long been a favorite in the Middle East. Used as a dip, spread, or component in a myriad of dishes, it is incredibly versatile. However, it is not suitable for everyone due to allergies or dietary concerns. So what is the best tahini substitute? Let’s find out.
What Exactly Is Tahini?
Tahini is made from toasted, ground sesame seeds and is a key ingredient in hummus. These oil-rich seeds come from the pods of the sesamum indicum plant which is widely cultivated across the globe. The seeds can also be used to create oil, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
The practice of grinding them to a paste is thought to have originated in Persia where it was known as ‘Ardeh’, from here it spread into Israel, North Africa, China, Japan, Korea, Greece, and Turkey.
In its long history, Tahini has been a symbol of status, with only the wealthy able to afford it, in some parts it was even used as currency. In ancient Greece and India it was a component of traditional medicines.
These days, the creamy, peanut-butter-like paste is a staple in many cuisines and can be found all over the world. From sushi to hamburgers, desserts and more, sesame and sesame products are found just about everywhere.
Is Tahini Low-Carb?
Tahini is relatively low-carb when compared with other pastes such as peanut, cashew, or almond. Meaning it is often favored by those following the ketogenic diet, however, Tahini is also low on protein.
The ketogenic diet focuses on consuming low-carb foods with maximum protein content for satiety and to induce ketosis. So while tahini is considered low-carb, there are better low-carb tahini substitutes available that more readily meet your protein goals.
Is Tahini Safe For Those With Allergies?
One of the major downsides of tahini is that it is not allergy-friendly. Sesame seeds, while not counted as one of the world’s top 8 allergens, is still the 9th most common allergy in the United States alone. Unfortunately, as it is not in the top 8, manufacturers are not legally required to disclose its presence in food or on shared production lines.
This has led to it being called a ‘hidden allergen’ and something that can place allergy sufferers at risk. It can cause severe reactions on par with those who have a peanut allergy. Symptoms of sesame allergy include a rash (hives), an itchy throat, swelling in the face, vomiting, and intestinal distress. For those with a severe allergy to sesame, this can also lead to anaphylaxis and death.
Suggested Alternatives To Tahini
Should you google, you’ll be presented with various options for alternatives to tahini such as:
- Peanut butter
- Greek yogurt
- Cashew butter
- Almond butter and
- Sesame oil
The issue with all of these options is that they are both high in carbohydrates and all are considered allergens. Some of these are also high in ‘bad’ fats and contain salt or added sugars. One healthier option that is less well known is seed butter.
Low-Carb, Allergy-Friendly Tahini Alternative
So how do you meet your nutritional goals, stay low-carb, high protein and remain safe from sesame? Fortunately, there is a delicious alternative that mimics tahini both in taste and texture - 5 Seed Butter.