Superhealthy Halva

Sesame is the Matt Damon of seeds – quiet, shy and underappreciated yet unquestionably tasty.

In Hinduism, the sesame seed stands for immortality. Eyebrows sufficiently raised? Wait until you taste the halva recipe below.

Notions of everlasting life might come from the sesame’s stash of lignans. These are a group of plant-based chemical compounds associated with fighting cancer. Or perhaps such fancy can be attributed to its bank of B vitamins? This is the vitamin responsible
for recharging batteries, massaging frayed nerves and mending marriages. Not bad for half a cent per gram, and notably less than a psychotherapist.

There’s a nice whack of omega oils to keep madam’s skin feverishly soft, and zinc to boost libido. Take a bow Mother Nature!

Sesame also contains a fair dose of plant-based protein, without the side serving of cholesterol. In fact, studies from Yale suggest that sesame seeds could help reduce the risk of arteriosclerotic lesions (that’s Doctor speak for sticky arteries) and high blood pressure.



Superhealthy Halva

If you’re worried about acquiring dodgy hips later in life, brittle bones or treacherous dance moves, then jack-up your calcium foods. These include tinned salmon and sarnies, chickpeas, broccoli, figs, sesame seeds, tahini, almonds, hazelnuts and green leafy veg.

We know that good bone health is intimately linked to what we eat. Dr Marilyn Glenville, specialist in women’s health, is dubious about dairy’s monopoly on ‘calcium’ in our diet. Why, Glenville asks, is our rate of osteoporosis much higher than Japan’s rate? (where they don’t even eat dairy?) A good question, worthy of further head-scratching. Glenville is not alone. New York Times best-selling author, Dr Joel Fuhrman, doesn’t rate dairy at all. Fuhrman’s medical research and experience as a GP has entirely reversed his thinking about dairy.

So lets explore alternative sources of calcium, without having to mourn our cheese board. Lucky for us, this sesame halva is a great place to start. Find more flavours here, and a 3-minute demo on how to make a coffee version here.


3 tablespoons extra virgin coconut oil

up to 1/2 cup maple syrup or raw local honey

2 teaspoons of real vanilla extract (or the seeds from half a pod)

½ teaspoon sea salt flakes

300-340g jar of light tahini (this is just 100% sesame butter)

10-15 roasted almonds / hazelnuts

4 dried figs, diced**



On a very gentle heat, slowly melt the coconut oil. Remove from heat, and stir in maple/honey, vanilla and salt.

With a fork, beat through the tahini, nuts and figs**. Smash a few roasted hazelnuts to tickle the top.

Scoop the halva mix into a small rectangular container lined with cling film. Freeze for 5 hours, remove cling, wrap in parchment, and store it there until the munchies come calling.

Expect the block to give 32 portions. And euphoria.

** just swap out the figs for whatever you fancy, like pomegranate and pistachio, coffee beans and raw caca nibs, vanilla and popped quinoa for kids. Make it your own!



Taking the hell out of healthy.

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This article has 31 comments

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  2. Colette

    I made the healthy halva at the weekend and I am addicted!! It is just divine. Are there any other combinations you would recommend to vary it from the fig/nut combination in recipe? Thank you.

      1. Susan Jane

        For diabetics, I’d recommend pure vanilla beans (scraped from the pod) to avoid sugar syrups. Instead of honey, agave nectar has a much lower GL as does brown rice syrup. There are pluses and minuses to all sweeteners! Maple and honey still require insulin to break them down, I believe. I was pre-diabetic for years, and found agave useful but not perfect )it’s high in fructose). Hope this helps!

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  5. Sorcha

    I made this earlier having never before tried halva. My mind has been blown. My entire family loved the stuff and we cut it into little sweet sized squares and got about 55 out of it! It’s absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to experiment with different flavours 😀 

  6. Eleanor

    Hi Susan Jane!
    I met you briefly in Fumbally Exchange before 🙂 I hope you are doing well!

    I’ve just made this and put it in the freezer – so excited to taste it in a few hours or tomorrow.
    Was just wondering what the purpose of the cling film and parchment are. Is it just to make the block easier to remove from the rectangular container?
    How long will it take to defrost if it’s too hard to cut into pieces when I take it out of the freezer?

    1. Susan Jane

      Hi there!

      Yes exactly – it will stick to the container otherwise. And don’t worry – you can slice it immediately! (If your freezer is -18 industrial one, wait 3 minutes before attempting to slice). Enjoy!

      1. Eleanor

        Thank you so much for your reply and for the recipe. It’s so so good! I’m surprised there’s still some in the freezer. This will definitely a staple snack in my freezer from now on! 🙂

  7. Rubey

    Hi Sarah Jane, tried halva for the first time in NYC over the bank holiday weekend and looking forward to making your recipe today!quick questions for you (or others who have made it)…if I want to add pistachios do I substitute the hazelnuts/almonds, or are they an addition? Thanks!

  8. Laurie L.

    Hello Susan Jane,

    I made this as outlined, except instead of nuts and figs I used 1/4 cup (4 tbsp) of pomegranate arils.  I found it to be really soft, as soft as soft ice cream.  It started to melt as soon as it landed on a plate and became like goo.  Also, it was too sweet, and I’ve discovered a large blob of honey in the centre. I’m sad that it didn’t turn out well because I was really hoping it would be nice, like fudge for Christmas.  Has anyone else had this problems?
    Next time I’m going to increase the amount of coconut oil to 1/4 cup (4 tbsp), and decrease the amount of honey to 1/3 cup.  I am also going to beat the mixture really well BEFORE adding the pomegranate arils.  

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