Assyrian legend maintains the gods drank sesame seed wine, then created the earth. In the story Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, the password “Open sesame” reveals hidden gold and jewels.
So what’s with sesame? Magnesium, copper, calcium, iron, zinc, B vitamins and Omega-6 essential fatty acids and an incredible buttery taste.
Best kept in small batches and stored in a dry, airtight container to ensure freshness, tiny sesame seeds are not only delicious, but contain oil that is antibacterial, antifungal and has a pedigree — it’s called the Queen of Oil. Like olive oil, it’s nutrient-dense and mostly monounsaturated, but has a bolder, almost smoky flavor.
Sesame features in some of our favorite foods, from Asian sesame noodles to hummus, which gets its creaminess from that luscious sesame seed paste, tahini. Alas, no one seems to be making sesame seed wine, but other sesame products are showing up on supermarket shelves.
Mary’s Gone Crackers (6.5 ounces, $4.79) teams sesame with flax seeds and whole grains including brown rice and quinoa, then bakes them into addictively crispy discs (tasters happily chomped through a whole box). A handful of crackers (about a dozen) contains 140 calories, 5 fat grams, 190 milligrams sodium, and 3 grams each fiber and protein.
Sesame shows its sweet side with chomp-worthy Go Raw Super Cookies (3 ounces, $4.99). With flavors including chocolate, lemon and chai, these cookies contain organic coconut, sprouted sesame seeds for extra nutrition and dates for sweetness. An 18-cookie serving contains 160 calories, 8 fat grams, 5 scant sodium grams, 4 grams of fiber and 2 protein grams. The fine print: These cookies are very, very small. Enjoy atop fruit salad or yogurt for crunchy fun rather than as a stand-alone treat. Like Mary’s, they’re organic, vegan, kosher and gluten-free, as well raw.
Sesame’s turning up at the breakfast table with Bakery on Main’s gluten-free granola (12 ounces, $5.99). Corn is the main ingredient in this GMO-free mix, along with evaporated cane juice for sweetness and sesame, sunflower and flax seeds for added fiber, nutrition and a crunch that stands up to milk. A 1/3-cup serving contains 140 calories, 6 fat grams, 15 milligrams sodium, and 2 grams each of fiber and protein.