The step by step instructions are at the bottom, AND I include a valuable trick worth knowing that isn’t in the video
1. White Sesame Seeds or Pumpkin Seeds – Organic if store and budget allow
2. Honey – Buy organic
Sea Salt (optional) for those who like sweet and salty foods like honey roasted nuts
Health and Food Facts
Without sounding preachy I would like to suggest being curious about the food you eat. Buy things you have never tried before. Go to foreign grocery stores. Try the same food in its different forms – raw, steamed, stove top or oven baked, dry or with oil… etc. Notice not only what they taste like, their texture and how they differ depending on their preparation, but notice how your body responds to them.
When preparing food, it is sometimes all too easy to judge a personally undesirable result as an “error”, but when I sit with, look at and taste my “so-called” errors, I actually find valuable insight and information for everything I cook thereafter. My “errors” are often the foundational information that lead to more insightful understanding and successes in my future.
I have some really good sounding information for you about the benefits of Honey, Sesame Seeds and Pumpkin Seeds. As sales worthy as it is, if you know any or all of these cause your body problems then don’t eat them. It doesn’t matter what someone puts in writing or what science knows. Science knows very little. While information provides direction, your body should be providing the feedback that is used for making best decisions.
Just because something is on a so called “experts” top 10 or top 5 list of the “healthiest foods” doesn’t mean your body agrees.
Food and your body’s relationship to different items is fascinating. You could experience magical results or horrendous symptoms to anything with sesame seeds. It may only be sensitive to raw seeds, but not toasted. Or maybe raw tahini is acceptable, but halva is not. White, brown, yellow, violet and black sesame seeds taste different and their phytochemical qualities are not the same. Your body responds to each type of sesame seed and each type of product made from sesame seeds differently. For your body there is a vast difference between raw, roasted, toasted, tahini (raw, roasted, salted, unsalted, smooth or fibrous), raw oil versus toasted oil, halva and sesame meal flour (which is the end product after oil extraction used for baking, protein powder and animal feed).
Every change made to a food: raw, cooked, soaked & dried, stored, heated, steamed, dehydrated, frozen, powdered or ground changes the way your body must respond and interact with it. Imagine a close friend or partner and their various emotions, moods, interests, strengths, weaknesses and quirks. Each time your friend is in a different state of being, you respond differently to them. And vice versa. Your physical body is the same – it responds to different variations of a same food depending on its state. Any sort of sensitivity begs to be investigated further.
• It is valuable to know if your body responds to raw, but not to its roasted equivalent. Maybe you are sensitive to the active protective enzymes in the raw food which is deactivated when its soaked, cooked, dried, ground or frozen.
• If smooth ground Tahini is okay, but not the seeds then maybe your GI tract is sensitive to the texture.
• If you are eating sesame seed meal in sauces or baked goods without incidence, but your body is intolerant of other forms then maybe you are reacting to the oil content (sesame seed meal flour is the end product AFTER the oil has been extracted).
• If you eat raw foods, but can’t eat it when processed, then maybe your intolerance is related to manufacturing processes involved or cross contamination exposures.
• And sometimes a person has a miraculous or disastrous result to a food item that is not a direct physical body response, but rather how your internal bacterial and fungal environments are responding to it.
• Your body may be so sensitive to sesame seeds that it manifests symptoms when it detects sesame seed molecules in the animal products you consume whose feed includes sesame seed meal flour. Sesame seed meal flour is the by-product remaining after oil extraction and is a great natural source of vegetable protein (35-50% protein) and iron that animals benefit from. The same is true of corn. For those with hyper reactivity to corn, the body will be much calmer with grass fed beef and chickens on corn free food.
• Your investigative detective work should also include looking at foods biologically related to the source of your reactions. Are you sensitive to those too? Have you ever looked into cross sensitivities? For example, sesame seeds are related to rye, peanuts, kiwifruit, poppy seeds, black walnut, hazelnut, cashew, macadamia nut and pistachio.
• Natural personal care product markets are booming with increased consumer awareness about chemicals in their products. This has sesame seed oil finding itself a prominent role in natural products such as lotion, shampoo, conditioner, make-up and more. Is your body only sensitive to the eaten food item? Or is dermal exposure causing unnecessary grief and drama for your body? You may need to check your product ingredient labels to find out. Certain companies use Latin words instead of their more common names, so take 5 minutes and find out exactly what is in your product(s). You may need to make some calls to find out more information. Eliminate any for at least a month to see if it makes a difference to any part or all of your well-being and body function.
When an item is known to be a source of aggravation for your body then recognize, acknowledge and avoid it.
Sesame is a beautiful, not so big plant with green leaves and charming flowers. There are a variety of sesame plants and some produce white seeds while others produce yellow, violet, black or brown. Each with a different taste and unique set of phytochemicals. If you haven’t tried black sesame seed tahini and appreciate a bold strong taste, then by all means get some, but it doesn’t taste anything like the raw or toasted sesame tahini you know. My appreciation for sesame seeds dramatically exploded when I learned that a whole acre of crop growth is required for only 135 pounds of seeds. They are grown in faraway places that include Africa, China, India and Mexico.
The seed contains 50% oil by weight with equal amounts of poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated fatty acids with a high resistance to oxidation and rancidity. In addition to being a rich source of minerals such as copper and zinc it has lots of fiber and is also a valuable source of vegetable protein that includes both essential and non-essential amino acids. They are an excellent source of non-heme vegetable iron, more than the heme iron in liver, by weight.
Sesame seeds have high levels of lignans (a type of fiber) whose benefits include weight loss, lower blood pressure, protective phytoestrogens and would you believe that lignans are related to reduced hair loss? Studies suggest a strong relationship between lignan intake and lower preventative breast, lung, colorectal and prostate cancer. Lignans are also a valuable prebiotic, prebiotics feed your good bacteria, enabling them to survive and thrive so your body can too.
Like sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds contain 50% oil with poly unsaturated and mono unsaturated fatty acids with very high fiber and protein with both essential and non-essential amino acids. They too have higher levels of nutritional iron by weight than does liver.
Their more unique qualities include chlorophyll (remarkable from the green color), zinc, magnesium (as well as many other minerals) and prostaglandins which have value for men’s prostate health. They also have a grand reputation for being an effective anti-parasitic, mild laxative, diuretic and anti-inflammatory.
“Pepita” is another name used to describe the inner green meaty seed of the “pumpkin seed”. Each type of pumpkin has a slightly different “pepita” with a slightly different taste and texture. Much like wine grapes quality being influenced by the weather, pumpkin seeds vary from one year to the next too. Raw pumpkin seeds have a bold taste with a more chewy texture, but toasted or soaked and dried they produce a very different appearance, taste and texture. The soak and dry technique is simple – soak for 10-15 hours in water, drain, spread them out on a flat metal pan, add salt if desired and dry in the oven at 150-200F or in a dehydrator for about 15 hours. Powdered down, pumpkin seeds are used as sauce thickeners and its oil is a luscious emerald green oil often used as a prominent salad oil in Europe. Some pumpkin seed oils are brown from the manufacturing oil extraction processes and they taste entirely differently from the luscious green ones. It can be fun to see how different the same seed tastes when raw, toasted or dried. The quality of the soil, climate, country of origin and time of harvest (before or after vine ripening) vary a foods quality and value. Or how dramatically oil extraction processes of the same type of seed vary the flavor, color and aroma.
You don’t need to be a wine aficionado to appreciate the fine, striking or subtle differences of a same food.
Honey has been used and revered since Egyptian times for its healing and sweetness. There is even a wine made from honey and whole books have been written about the techniques of Mead Making.
It is estimated that it takes a flight path of three orbits around the planet for bees to make just 1 pound of honey whose end result may be white, gold, yellow, red, brown, green or black. In recent years beekeepers have even found blue honey in their beehives from being too close to candy factories or waste dumping sites (see photo).
Honey is predigested and concentrated flower nectar made up of about 38% fructose, 30% glucose and 2% sucrose. Depending on the person and the type of honey its glycemic index may be as low as 38, or as high as 87. It is known to inhibit at least 60 bacterial species as an antibacterial and the darker the honey the higher its antibacterial properties. With its high level of oligosaccharides it is an excellent source of prebiotics which ensure that your internal bacterial environments survive and thrive so your body can too.
Used externally or internally it works in many ways to benefit health and healing. It increases immune function, improves and heals digestion, works as an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant, promotes new tissue growth, reduces scarring, deodorizes putrid smells from infected wounds, calms nerves and is used for gastroenteritis, internal and external ulcers, upper respiratory infections, wounds, injuries, abscesses, cracked nipples, fistulas, burns, yeast infections, hemorrhoids, cystic fibrosis, MRSA infected wounds, herpes and more. Like all remedies, it won’t work for everyone and its preparation for external application is tricky and may sting on contact.
When I moved to Europe I was introduced to the many types of single flower honeys. Each one carries its original plant properties, personality, aroma and distinction. Honey tasting fast became a delightful hobby as I scoured the market places to find clove, orange blossom, lavender, eucalyptus, thyme, chestnut, buckwheat, pine, sage, tupulo and other unique single flower honey varieties. I still have yet to try Honeydew Honey which is quite unique and I look forward to that opportunity. Did you know that honey from sage and tupulo have a higher fructose content? Because the liver must convert fructose to glucose, it may be a better choices for certain people. Manuka is honey from the Tea Tree and is often labeled with a number grade. In general, the higher the number the more expensive it is and the stronger its antibiotic properties. While it is effective for certain people it can be problematic for others and may cause blood sugar spikes for certain people with diabetes.
There is some heated controversy over the safety of giving honey to infants under 12 months because honey may contain spores, which, in an undeveloped digestive tract could proliferate and cause medical concerns. Some professionals affirm the danger, yet raw unfiltered honey is the medical remedy of choice for many undeveloped countries when newborns have intestinal and digestive illness or gastroenteritis.
Not all my purchases are organic, but honey is one product that I make a point of buying organic. I prefer raw unfiltered honey for its more earthy and authentic quality. I use less expensive honey for cooking and gourmet single flower honeys for table use. If you like honey, exploring new taste experiences and have a palate for fine foods, then do investigate the savory opportunities the bees and their beekeepers have to offer.
The Honey Prescription by Nathaniel Altman
Honey The Gourmet Medicine by Joe Traynor
Step by Step Instructions
1. Toast the seeds in a non-stick pan on medium heat
Do not use oil because the honey will not be able to grab the seed with oil
Shake and move the seeds around. Toast them, don’t burn them.
Toast sesame seeds separately from pumpkin seeds
2. Once toasted, put seeds in a different bowl and remove any seed dust still remaining in the pan
3. Put 1-2 soup spoons of honey in the non-stick pan depending on the quantity and type of seeds you are using, the desired result and end use
For 16 oz of sesame seeds you will need about 2 soup spoons of honey
For 8 oz of pumpkin seeds you will need about 1 heaping soup spoon of honey
If you watched the video you will see that I didn’t use enough honey, BUT it still worked. The result was nice and I would do it again in the future depending on my end use and who I was cooking for (Do they like sweet? Are they diabetic? Am I aiming for a more salty with background sweet taste or a sweet taste with a slight salty finish.. etc).
Using a rigid silicon spatula move the honey around on the pan
Once the honey begins to bubble that’s it – don’t add anymore honey
Keep moving the honey around the pan as it bubbles and soon it will be foaming
Keep the foaming honey in the middle of the pan in the same spot
Quickly the foam will become a lighter color and you need to pay attention
As soon as you smell that “I am about 30 seconds from burning” smell then get the pan OFF the heat
4. Add the seeds QUICKLY
5. Mix seeds and honey in the pan until you have a sticky mass
Keep mixing until all the seeds have the sticky honey sheen on them
It will seem like there is not enough honey, but there is
Keep stirring, be brisk, do not dilly dally
6. Transfer the sticky seed mass to your cooling surface
I like the non-stick flexible cutting mats, but tin foil on a tray works fine too
7. Salt – optional
If you like that salty sweet taste (honey roasted peanuts or sweet bar-b-que sauce on salted meat) then this is the moment to shake some on
8. Put it in the fridge to cool and harden
Cooling time depends on the quantity, thickness and the amount of honey used
Will take anywhere from 10-45 minutes
9. Take it out of the fridge
Break it apart, eat, use as a topping, decoration or as a component for chocolate or carob bark
If it hasn’t all been eaten then place it in an air tight container and store in the fridge
I have never put it in the freezer but that may create desirable results too.
It keeps for about 5 days in the fridge, but slightly changes with each passing day
Two Different and Valuable Tricks
Be creative, but have your creative plan BEFORE you begin so you have what you need on hand. You can put the seeds down in balls, shapes, like round cookies or something else. You can also place a second non-stick flexible mat (or foil) on top. Then with your hands or a rolling pin roll the seeds between the two surfaces to your desired thickness to create a uniform “sheet” of the honey sesame crunch.
If you live in a humid location, leave it out too long, it softens too much or has that “soggy” type of crunch OR you want to reshape it into little hearts or something else, then take what you want to use, place it in a glass baking pan and put it in the oven on 200F for about 10 minutes. This dries out the humidity so it can re-harden and when it is hot it will be super soft so you can reshape it exactly as you want. Once you are finished put it back in the fridge so it can set and harden again.
I hope you enjoyed this and got both food prep ideas and a better understanding of your body and how it responds to the foods you eat.