Sesame: Tiny Seed That Packs a (Healthy Hair) Punch
My first introduction to sesame was during our travels and stays through Southeast Asia when I was a little kid. In those days, it was basically my mother and I exploring new cities, new wonders, and new foods (Kiku hadn’t been born yet) following my dad through his work assignments. Many of these countries had their own version of sesame candies and sesame brittle which both Ma and I adored. I also distinctly remember my grandma making something called tiler naru — a sweet little nugget of goodness of sesame and gur (Indian molasses) during the Indian festive season. Yummy!
WHAT ARE THE OVERALL BENEFITS OF SESAME?
It’s only been in recent years that I've come to realize the incredible health benefits of these tiny little seeds. Sesame is oil-rich and provides a good source of healthy fats, protein, B vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds. Studies show that some of these compounds may have a positive effect on digestive, cardiovascular, and bone health.
WHAT ARE BENEFITS OF SESAME FOR SCALP & HAIR?
The benefits of sesame for hair is well known in South Asian cultures. Its rich omega fatty acid content nourishes the roots and triggers hair growth. It also helps in moisturizing the scalp and improves blood circulation, rejuvenating the hair follicles. Sesame seeds also contain anti-aging properties that can nourish the hair and potentially avoid or slow down greying hair. Both types of our BACK TO YOUR ROOTS Scalp+Hair Prewash include sesame oil!
While I knew that sesame worked its magic on skin, something l recently learned was that sesame oil is also a natural SPF and can block 30% of sunlight. In addition, it is the traditional oil of choice for abhyanga, the daily Ayurvedic self-massage.
During my years living in Dubai, I became obsessed with tahini, or sesame butter. This is essentially the star ingredient in hummus. I also cook a ton of Asian dishes and I always finish off stir-fries and noodle dishes with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil.
Here are some simple ways in which I make sure that my family gets a good dose of sesame goodness incorporated into our diets.
Sesame Cucumber Asian Salad: a super quick easy salad bursting with flavor that even my kids love — especially on a hot summer day.
1. Chop an English seedless cucumber into small pieces
2. Combine the following ingredients in a small bowl:
-1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp olive oil (I use a chili garlic-flavored olive oil)
3. Toss with the cucumber and let it sit in the fridge for 30 min to absorb all the flavor.
4. Before serving, sprinkle generously with sesame seeds. Optional: sprinkle red chili flakes for a little heat
Lemon Tahini Dressing: an amazingly versatile dressing that can be tossed with a cool salad, drizzled on warm roasted butternut squash, or incorporated into a hummus or baba ganoush recipe.
There are a million ways to use this so I like to make a tub and keep it in the fridge whenever I need something to jazz up a meal!1. Combine and whisk the following ingredients:
- ⅓ cup of tahini paste (now usually available in the international aisle of supermarkets)
- 1 tbsp of honey
- 2 tbsp of olive oil (I use a chili garlic-flavored olive oil)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Lemon zest of one lemon (important to use a microplane here so that it incorporates nicely)
- ½ tsp salt
*I usually adjust the flavors by taste — and add more sweet, sour, or salty based on how I like it.
Tahini Date Shake: a vegan rich, decadent creamy frozen treat without the ice cream. This is a little more involved, but certainly worth the effort!
The first time we had this was from a street vendor in Jordan and we were hooked.
1. Combine all the ingredients in your Vitamix or blender — best to put the bananas in first.
- 1 frozen banana, sliced
- 1 tbsp tahini paste
- 2 dates, pitted and chopped (Mejdool is the king among dates — definitely see if you can find this variety. I miss my date trees in our Dubai garden - they produced about 10 lbs of dates every year!))
- 1 tbsp crushed ice
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
2. Run blender until you get a smooth and creamy texture — could take up to 4-5 min depending on your blender
Finally, if anything calls for peanut butter, I substitute tahini cuz I love it that much. Nutella-tahini sandwich, dip for satay, tahini butter cookie — you name it!
Find more hair-healthy recipes at SHIKS EATS recipe page
Photos by SHAZ & KIKS