I have a confession to make...I'm slightly obsessed with black sesame. Shocker, I know. All kidding aside, I know those of you who follow my blog regularly are not shocked by that truth. Ever since learning about the many health benefits these tiny black seeds have to offer, I quickly implemented them into my daily food intake. I incorporate them in a variety of ways. It can be as simple as adding them to a smoothie, sprinkling them on a salad, yogurt, oatmeal, etc. Of course you know I love using them in my cooking and baking as well.
If you have missed any of my black sesame recipes thus far, I will include links to those so you can check them out. As far as their health benefits, they are plentiful! In traditional Chinese Medicine, black sesame seeds are considered one of the best anti-aging foods. Along with nourishing the scalp and stimulating hair growth, black sesame seeds can promote melanocyte activity to produce melanin. This is the pigment responsible for hair and skin color. With a rich nutty flavor, sesame has one of the highest oil content of any seed. They come in different varieties such as black, brown, red, or tan. The nutritional composition of all sesame seeds is quite similar. However, black sesame seeds have exceptionally high amounts of antioxidants and anti-aging benefits. Some research indicates that the antioxidants in black sesame seeds can counteract the effect of free radicals that damage cells and contribute to aging. This would include gray hair, hair loss, and wrinkles. Now maybe you understand why I wanted to start with this particular health benefit- so cool, right? This bit of knowledge makes me want to sprinkle those little black seeds on everything I eat!
Regarding bone health, I was extremely happy to learn that black sesame seeds are a good source of bone-forming minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, and magnesium. One tablespoon of unhulled seeds contains about 88mg of calcium. That is more than a glass of milk! In addition to that, the high zinc content increases bone mineral density. I just love learning about new ways to promote better bone health! Black sesame seeds can also help you get a restful night of sleep. These seeds contain the stress-relieving minerals magnesium and calcium. But they also contain the amino acid, tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin. This helps bring balance to your mood and helps you sleep better by restoring the normal sleep pattern. If anemia is something you struggle with, you may be interest to know that black sesame seeds have a higher iron content than other varieties, so they’re definitely recommended. If you are looking to improve or protect your cardiovascular health, the lignans present in sesame seeds are believed to reduce and prevent high blood pressure. Also, magnesium and calcium are important essential minerals that help regulate blood pressure. Another benefit that spoke to me was how black sesame seeds can improve your eye health. I've been struggling a bit with that over the past couple of years, so anything I can do to maintain healthy eyes is definitely something I am interested in doing. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the eyes are closely related to liver healthy. When the liver is affected, the eyes become tired, dry, and your vision may become blurred. Black sesame seeds are a natural tonic for liver, which in turn is believed to nourish and support eye function.
Black sesame seeds are thought to improve your digestive health and relieve constipation. This is due to their high fiber content and unsaturated fatty acid content. The oil found in the seed can lubricate your intestines, while the fiber in the seed helps in smooth bowel movements. Grinding the seeds or soaking them overnight can help make the seeds more digestible. So hopefully all of these positive things will encourage you to add some of these fabulous seeds into your daily regimen.
Being such a bounty of health, I wanted to create a treat for my loved ones that they were certain to love. So, a shortbread cookie it is! What's neat about shortbread cookies is you can roll them out and shape them for any occasion. If you eat dairy, use unsalted grass-fed butter...so yummy! For my vegan & dairy-free friends, use palm shortening instead. The flavor of these cookies is outstanding and there is absolutely no refined sugar involved! I also have an option to dip them in chocolate ganache! My family loves that version!!! Another nice thing is you can use either almond or cashew flour. Sprinkling them with black sesame seeds and edible rose petals offers a pretty appearance. The cookie recipe is quite versatile as far as decorating goes. If you have a favorite frosting, I'm sure that would be fabulous on top!
2 cups cashew or almond flour
1/4 cup tapioca or arrowroot
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted grass-fed butter, softened (use palm shortening for vegan)
1/4 cup black sesame paste (you can make your own by blending sesame seeds)
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
edible rose petals
black sesame seeds
1. Cream the butter (or palm shortening) with the sesame paste. Then using your hand mixer, mix in the maple syrup.
2. In a separate bowl, sift together the cashew (or almond) flour, tapioca (or arrowroot), coconut flour, and salt.
3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Place the dough in the refrigerator for about one hour. You can also store the dough in your refrigerator a couple days in advance if needed.
4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. Sprinkle some tapioca or arrowroot on your working surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Use cookie cutters of your choice. My cookie cutters were 3 inches in diameter and yielded about 2 dozen cookies. If you want to top them with black sesame seeds, after you cut the cookies out, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and gently use the rolling pin to secure the seeds into the cookie. If you don't do this, the seeds will brush right off of the cookie after baking.
6. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. If you choose to dip them in the chocolate ganache, wait for them to cool. Then, in a small saucepan, heat the coconut milk until hot, but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate chips. Dip the cookies however much you would like. I did a half dip. Then sprinkle with black or white sesame seeds, shredded coconut, or anything else you would like. The chocolate will harden in about 30 minutes or so. You can expedite the process if needed in the refrigerator. You can store them at room temperature in an airtight container for approximately one week.