Nut and seed butters are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats. Unfortunately, many peanut butters, even some expensive organic ones that have the oil sitting on top, contain added sugar. Peanut butter is also very easy to overeat–it goes so well with toast (yikes the carbs!), and even carrots. As a college student I remember my father warned me about the potential pitfall of my new evening study snack–a big jar of peanut butter from Costco, and lots of little carrots. He said, “You will get fat if you keep eating so much of it.”
As an adult with young children, I changed my nut butter to almond for something different than I was feeding my kids. I ate less of it and liked the taste. It also kept me from mindlessly eating too many of the almonds I left out on the counter for my boys to snack on (the ones it turned out they never touched).
Several years ago I switched to tahini for good. Initially it may have been prompted by a salmonella recall on some brands of almond butter. But the change became permanent after I discovered I could add seeds to my diet without overeating them (they are so tiny–it’s hard not to eat far too many at one sitting once a bag is opened). Plus, I already ate almonds (or walnuts) in morning yogurt, so I didn’t really need more nuts. Why not diversify?
Nutritional Factors: My tahini (Woodstock Unsalted–they don’t have a salted) has double the fiber and 30 fewer calories than Santa Cruz Organic Peanut Butter (even the one with no added sugar). Both are roasted, which is key to good flavor. FYI- Trader Joe’s organic tahini is not roasted, and no lovely oil sits on the top of its jar, a plus for some people). Two Tablespoons of the peanut butter has 1 gram of sugar (natural), while the tahini has none. Tahini with unhulled sesame seed contains more phytonutrients than peanut butter, and, for many people, is easier to digest than almond butter.
Tahini is also a versatile ingredient because it’s flavor is more neutral than most nut butters. Few people have seed allergies. It’s a great to have a jar in your refrigerator (sesame seeds can spoil easily so refrigeration is recommended). Tahini is a base ingredient in hummus, is delicious in salad dressings especially when paired with balsamic, and is easily incorporated into baked goods.