WhyFoodWorks + Soom Foods: a brief history
It’s not every day you get to work with an ingredient grown in Ethiopia, packaged in Israel, and brought to you by a woman-owned business based in Philly – but earlier this month I got lucky! My (wonderful) friend Rachel introduced me to her friend Shelby, one of the 3 sister-creators of Soom Foods, which makes sesame seed paste. Their story is really cool: one of the sisters married a sesame expert, they realized tehina (similar to tehini) was a wide open market in the US, so Soom was incorporated and started producing in April of 2013. (Check out their site for the full story – launching a business isn’t quite that easy!) Many people aren’t familiar with tehina, but it has nearly endless applications in cooking and baking, and lots of health attributes to boot!
Enter WhyFoodWorks. It’s easiest to formulate recipes with some sort of focus, and highlighting one ingredient is inspirational! I came up with 4 ways to use it that are each different but delicious.
Showcasing the recipes: Moishe House
I hadn’t heard of Moishe Houses until I worked with Soom, but the concept is pretty cool. They house (usually) young (always) Jewish people who put on events for the community in exchange for a rent subsidy. Sometimes the activities are related to Judaism, sometimes they’re secular, but anyone is welcome – it’s a great way to learn more about the culture, especially if you’re a farm girl from Dutch country who wasn’t even really aware that Jewish people lived outside of New York until college (ahem). So Soom and WFW did events at both the DC and Rockville houses to demo how to make tehina recipes – and offer tastes, of course.
Tehina is really simple: it’s just roasted, pressed sesame seeds. It’s high in fiber and protein and contains several vitamins and minerals including thiamin, copper, and manganese as well as phytonutrients with potentially anti-cancer properties. It has a nutty flavor with sweet notes and interesting bitter undertones, is thinner and smoother than peanut butter, and has a stony gray color. Try it in dressings, as a binding agent for granola bars, or a substitute for oil in recipes!
4 Tehina Dishes (click for recipe!)
Tehina Energy Bites