Smooth, hearty tahini is the creamy butter of blended sesame seeds. This savory and sensual spread invites a Middle Eastern richness to your meals. It can be used to create soft, velvety dips like hummus and babaganoush, sauces to drizzle on top of falafels, or warming dressings to add to your salads. Tahini has a long history, with its use dating back to the 13th century. Its popularity, versatility, and availability, lead it to spread across continents through the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Ayurveda views tahini as a powerful ingredient, used to bestow both mental and physical strength on those who consume it.
Build & Strengthen
Tahini's sweet and heavy qualities mean it is anabolic and building in nature. It can be a useful addition to the diet after a period of exhaustion or depletion to rebuild tissues, provided digestion is strong. High in healthy fats from the oily sesame seed, it nourishes and strengthens nervous, muscle and fat tissue in particular. Tahini also packs an impressive calcium content, supporting the maintenance of bone strength. Its earthy quality and magnesium content help soothe and relax tension in the muscles, allowing you to unwind after a period of stress. Moderate amounts of quality oils, like those of tahini, restore strength and can keep the body looking and feeling young. The unctuous nature combats the dryness of Vata that can accelerate aging, and leaves the skin feeling soft and supple. Many dry Vata individuals seem to literally soak up the oiliness of tahini.
Heavy & Satisfying Nerve Tonic
As well as building and strengthening, the sweet, heaviness of tahini also gives it tonifying properties, encouraging regeneration of tissues. These qualities, teamed with the oiliness of tahini, make it deeply nourishing for the nervous system. It soothes Vata and mildly sedates frayed or frazzled nerves. Thick and dense, tahini brings stability to a frenetic mind, leaving you feeling grounded. Tahini will help slow you down if you are prone to rushing around, juggling too much at once, or feeling anxious. One client remarked how they could feel the heavy, oily nature of of tahini calming their nerves, "It's like an internal abhyanga [self massage with oil]... I did feel the grounding, and nourishing effects on my nervous system as well." Tahini's heavy, downward energy can help induce a sense of relaxation and encourage sound sleep after a stressful day. Another client remarked on how the tahini improved their mood, "I felt happy after I ate tahini. I got the sense I was being nourished."
Warmth that is Bone Deep
When the winds of autumn or the harsh winter chill hits, the heat of tahini will warm you up from the inside out. Its warming quality stokes the fires of metabolism and digestion. "I felt warmth moving down my GI tract... and comfort in my stomach," noted a client. Another observed, "It filled me with a feeling of warmth and contentment - kind of that hearty food feeling." Tahini moistens digestion and prevents dryness in the GI tract during these colder months. A little tahini in the tummy can be as good as a hot water bottle, warming you to your bones. This warmth will be too heating for Pitta types, particularly in the summer months. In excess it can lead to hyperacidity or feelings of anger, frustration and impatience.
How to Use Tahini
Less is more when it comes to tahini. You just need a small amount to enjoy the warm, nutty aroma and warming nature. Don't overwhelm your palate with large servings, and too much can weigh down digestion. When purchasing tahini, you will be presented with two varieties - unhulled and hulled. Unhulled has a stronger, more distinct flavor, one that is not to everyone's taste. This variety is made from the whole sesame seed and retains more vital nutrients, but can be slightly harder to digest. Hulled tahini, while milder and sweeter in taste, is less nutritious as the shell, or husk, of the seed has been removed, and this is where most of the calcium is found, but is easier to digest. Tahini can be used in a variety of sweet and savory recipesrecipes.
Effect on Digestion
Observe how tahini affects your digestion before making it a pantry staple. A small portion of people experience the dry, pasty, astringency of tahini and find it too difficult to swallow without a drink. One client noticed this difficult quality before even tasting, "When I first opened the jar, the oil had separated and was on top of the solids. It was difficult to mix, which I imagine might mean it is slow and difficult to digest and move through the body." For some clients, the dryness and difficulty to digest made tahini constipating, with one describing "lower abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating and mild constipation" after eating. However, most people experience improved bowel movements due to the heavy and oily qualities of tahini. One Vata client said, "My body tends to crave heavy, smooth, oily food so tahini helped to keep things moving right along, strong and steady."
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WHY EAT AN AYURVEDIC DIET?
Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. An Ayurvedic diet is
tailored to your individual body type and the specific imbalances you are working with
at any given time. Ayurveda shows you your specific body type’s needs and what
should be favored in your Ayurvedic menu. Watch as you eat less but feel more satisfied because what you
are eating truly nourishes you. Since Ayurveda believes all disease begins in the digestive
tract, food is your first medicine. By eating a healthy diet that’s ideal for your body, you
experience optimal health.
Functional Ayurveda helps you assess imbalances through 20 main biocharacteristics
Aggravating these characteristics weakens your body and causes imbalance.
By knowing which characteristics are habitually imbalanced in your body, you will be able to identify and correct imbalances before you get sick.
Every characteristic has an opposite which balances it (i.e. hot balances cold).
You restore balance by favoring diet and lifestyle choices that increase the opposite characteristic.
Taste is used to sense the most basic properties and effects of food.
Each taste has a specific medicinal effect on your body.
Cravings for food with certain tastes indicate your body is craving specific medicinal results from food.
Taste is experienced on the tongue and represents your body's reaction to foods.
Sweet taste causes physical satisfaction and attraction whereas bitter taste causes discomfort and aversion.
Kapha should use less sweet taste while Vata and Pitta would benefit from using more sweet taste.
One of the first signs of illness is that your taste and appetite for food changes.
The six tastes are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent.
Do you crave foods with any of the tastes below?
According to the biocharacteristic theory of medicine,
people tend to get sick, over and over again, due to habitual causes and imbalances that are unique to the person.
Your body type summarizes this tendency, showing you the 'type' of conditions and imbalances that frequently challenge your health & wellness.
Using body type, you can also identify remedies likely to improve your strength and resiliency.
Your body type identifies physical and mental characteristics as well as your personal strengths and weaknesses.
The calculation of your body type is based on your medical history.
The 3 functional body types
are Catabolic (Vata), Metabolic (Pitta), and Anabolic (Kapha).
Catabolic individuals tend to break down body mass into energy.
Metabolic individuals tend to burn or use energy.
Anabolic individuals tend to store energy as body mass.
Catabolic people tend to be easily stimulated, hyperactive, underweight and dry.
Metabolic people tend to be rosy-cheeked, easily irritated, focused, driven, and easily inflamed.
Anabolic people are heavy, stable and grounded, but if they store too much energy, they could gain weight easily and have congestion.
Ojas is the essence of healthy tissue, immunity, stable energy and happiness. Substances that improve ojas are recommended after long-term illness, debility, emotional and physical trauma, and even sadness.
Experiences vary according to the person and constitution. Individual results may vary.
The list of herbal-actions below has not be approved by the FDA and should not be used to treat a medical condition.
A tonic herb restores function through strengthening tissue. This can happen through a combination of nourishing the tissue, and invigorating tissue metabolism. The tonic should not be withering, as in caffeine.
An agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth. Antimicrobial is an umbrella term that can be broken down into specific categories of target microorganism, such as anti-bacterials, fungals, and virals.
Eating Ayurvedically makes you feel nourished and energized. Food digests with ease when
right for your body type (dosha). Healthy digestion is seen as the cornerstone of well-being in
Ayurveda. Healthy digestion generally prevents illness. If you do get sick, a strong digestive fire
reduces the severity of illness and increases your resilience. It also improves your mood. Once
you begin eating Ayurvedically, you will feel refreshed, vital and strong.
Tahini may be beneficial for these symptoms. The suitability of any food for a condition is highly dependent on the individual.
Please see your doctor before using this food to treat a medical condition.
John Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a
healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda.
His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful.
John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda
, which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition.
John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia.
John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion.
John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing.
In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots,
and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church.
Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick.
That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.