Open Sesame

black_sesame_seeds“So tell me about the magic of black sesame seeds, O’ wise one?”  That is the question I had running through my head last week as I sat at a Chinese New Year banquet , munching on a lovely pastry stuffed with black sesame paste.

Turns out the magic of black sesame seeds, a seed that has been roasted and toasted  in Asia for thousands of years, comes from the powerful nutritional mix that is found within.  These potent little seeds are chock full of minerals, including copper and manganese( important for joint health), tryptophan ( the amino acid famous for its relaxation properties)  and cholesterol-lowering lignans and phytosterols. Along with being  another good source of calcium for you non-milk drinkers, sesame seeds with their high content of   iron, are great for vegans/ vegetarians , or those that just don’t eat much meat.

Black sesame seeds ( hei zhi ma) are prominent in both Traditional Chinese medicine and Aruyvedic medicine. In TCM the seeds are used to treat yin deficiency and help nourish the kidneys and liver. They also lubricate and moisten the intestinal tract, so the seeds are great for anyone with a sluggish digestive system. Of course if you have a tendency toward diarrhea then you want to avoid the magic of the black sesame seed.

Sesame seeds ( black and white) are quite versatile and should be easy to incorporate into your diet with just a bit of forethought. Whole seeds can be added to baking and stir-frys and substituting sesame oil for olive oil will add a new taste twist to your usual salad dressings and marinades.   Powdered sesame seeds blend easily in to smoothies and soups and don’t forget to spread tahini          (sesame butter) on your toast in the morning.

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun !

Eat Well Around Town:

The Market at Jiashan Lu is back  in business this weekend. Drop by on Saturday from 10 am-3 pm to pick up organic produce, yummy cookies and fresh meats and dairy.

On of my favorite shopping stops, Les Garcons Bouchers, has a new second location in the former French Concession. Stop in and say “bonjour” to Pierre at 31 Yongkang Lu, (near Xiangyang Lu).                                             Hours:  10am to 7pm Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5 pm Sunday.