PASTELI WITH NUTS / GREEK SESAME BAR
The Ancient Greeks did not only leave us with a colossal cultural legacy but also with a nutritionally wise culinary legacy as well.
The staples of the ancient Greek diet were olives, honey, sesame seeds, pulses, fish, fruits and wine. The culture of ancient Athens in particular produced more geniuses per capita than any other culture before or since. What they ate may or may not have had something to do with it but the fact is open to speculation.
One of those foods is still very popular among Greeks today and is perhaps the first “energy bar” in history. Pasteli, a confection made primarily of honey and sesame seeds was consumed regularly by the original Olympians. It was also the traditional “wedding cake” offered at wedding ceremonies to the bride and the groom because sesames symbolized fertility and honey symbolized a sweet life. But even earlier than that we find references to Pasteli, then called Intrion, in Homers Iliad where it was eaten by the Hellenes to help them endure the physical demands of wartime.
It is easy to see why this food was not only a delicacy but highly valued for its nutritional properties. Sesame seeds are remarkably high in copper, manganese, calcium, tryptophan, magnesium, iron, zinc, fiber and vitamin B1. Every one of these nutrients is vital to the proper functioning of the human body and help in the prevention of anemia, osteoporosis, and joint problems.
They may also help with the maintenance of the ratio of LDL to HDL cholesterol, as well as aid in correcting an irregular heartbeat. Manganese relaxes your nerves and muscles, helps build strong bones, and keeps up a healthy blood circulation.
Tryptophan can regulate your appetite, help you sleep better, and may act as a mood elevator. There is as much calcium in a tablespoon of sesame seeds as there is in half a glass of milk. Sesame seeds are also powerful antioxidants.
Today Pasteli can be found everywhere in Greece and at specialty food stores around the world.
Make this pasteli recipe yourself ‘ this amazing and delicious power food of the Greeks.
*1 cup Greek honey
*1 cup of hulled sesame seeds
*1 strip of lemon peel
*nuts of your choice ( I use pistachios & almonds )
in in a nonstick saucepan add the sesame seeds and nuts and roast, in medium heat, until sesame seeds golden. Set aside.
In another saucepan, bring honey and lemon peel to a boil.
Add sesame seeds and nuts stirring continuously and continue to cook while stirring to mix completely and thoroughly.
When the seeds are fully mixed in and the mixture has boiled again, remove from heat.
Remove and discard lemon peel. Pour the honey mixture into the baking paper and smooth the top with a spoon.
Once cooled, cut the pasteli into small pieces, and serve. Store in the refrigerator.