Tahini, a paste made from hulled and roasted sesame seeds, provides iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, fiber, and some B vitamins and protein. Perhaps more importantly, tahini (or sesame seeds) contain copper and manganese, trace minerals that are vital for healthy muscle function. According to Dr. Liz Applegate, director of sports nutrition at the University of California at Davis, many runners fail to consume enough of these minerals, an error that can impact performance. Upon first glance at the label, tahini and products containing the paste may make some weight-conscious athletes take pause because it is relatively high in calories and fat (one tablespoon has about 90 calories and 8 grams of fat), but most of the fat content is the heart-healthy unsaturated kind.
One thing’s for sure: tahini’s creamy, rich, slightly toasty flavor is a delicious addition to dips, spreads, salad dressings and sauces. When tahini is paired with high-protein, high-fiber chickpeas in hummus, athletes can enjoy dipping crudité or whole-wheat pita chips in the beige emulsion without guilt.
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
scant bit of water, if necessary
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika (I like sweet paprika)
Combine all ingredients in a blender (adding water only if necessary to create a smooth mixture) and pulse until the hummus is mostly smooth.
pinch ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon crushed chilis (or a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce)
pinch ground cardamom
pinch ground coriander
pinch onion powder
extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top
toasted pine nuts