If the changing seasons have you wondering what to eat, try this sesame milk smoothie with orange essential oil. For those of us who eat seasonally, September and October are transitional months. Depending on where we are in the northern hemisphere, the heat could still be holding on, or there might be a noticeable crispness in the air. Straddling seasons can leave us a little stumped in terms of what to eat. The versatility of this smoothie makes it a go-to during this time of year: serve it at room temperature or warm; enjoy it for breakfast or as an evening treat. Either way, any time of day, it’s as tasty as it is healthy. And if you’re curious about cooking with essentials oils, this smoothie is a great place to start.
Vata Season: Oily & Sweet
In Ayurveda, it’s believed that we’re all connected through universal life force. With that in mind, it makes sense that energy bodies like the shifting seasons have an impact on our bodies. Fall and winter are vata season. Characterized by wind and cold, this is a time when many people catch colds and the flu. Although we might not be able to control factors like the temperature of our workspace or whether our colleagues expose us to flu germs, we can fortify ourselves from the inside out through diet and lifestyle so we’re less susceptible to external factors. Oily and sweet foods are recommended during vata season in order to maintain balance and increase immunity. The smoothie I’m sharing today pairs two flavors on the vata seasonal menu: sesame and orange.
Sesame Seeds & Orange Essential Oil: More Than Delicious
It’s ironic that sesame seeds are so tiny since they’re big on nutrients. They’re a rich source of protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous. However, like all nuts and seeds, they contain phytates and enzyme inhibitors which may block nutrient assimilation. In order to make them more bioavailable, presoaking, a common practice in many traditional cultures, is recommended. Sesame seeds are also a rich source of phytoestrogens and can be useful in balancing women’s hormonal cycles. Paired with orange essential oil, the two make a nice feel-good combination. In small studies, orange essential oil has demonstrated the ability to calm and elevate mood. Orange essential oil has also been noted for its immune enhancing benefits. It’s one of the richest sources of d-limonene, which is showing promise as a cancer inhibitor.
How to Make the Perfect Orange Sesame Milk Smoothie
This recipe is easy, but there are a few things to pay attention to in order to get a great smoothie. When making sesame milk it’s important to leave the seeds soaking for at least three hours in order to avoid bitterness. When blending the milk, if you opt to use a food processor, be careful not to overfill it. If overfilled, food processors tend to leak once their powerful motors are running (I made this mistake more than once and ended up with food everywhere!). After you blend the sesame milk, you can strain it for a silky texture, or use it in the smoothie as is. Personally, I like using unstrained sesame milk both for texture and added fiber. Also, be sure to use ripe bananas, with thin, spotted skin, in this recipe. If the bananas are ripe, little, if any, added sweetener is needed. Lastly, although this smoothie is delicious blended with ice and served cold, serve it warm or at room temperature if you’re following a seasonal Ayurvedic diet. If you opt for a warm smoothie, heat the sesame milk very gently prior to blending. Gentle heat will make the orange essential oil especially fragrant, and make cozying up with this sesame milk smoothie on a cold evening absolutely heavenly.
Orange Sesame Milk Smoothie (Vegan, Gluten-Free)
Prep Time: 3 minutes (excluding soaking time)
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
For the sesame milk (makes 4 cups, unstrained):
- 1 cup raw, unhulled sesame seeds, soaked for 3 hours in water, drained, and rinsed
- 3-1/2 cups water
- 4 pitted Medjool dates
- 1/8 teaspoon Himalayan or sea salt
For the smoothie:
- 2 cups sesame milk
- 1/4 teaspoon real vanilla extract or a 1/4-inch of a scraped vanilla pod
- 2 large, ripe bananas
- 1 drop food grade orange essential oil
- black sesame seeds (for garnish, optional)
1. Make the sesame milk: place presoaked, drained, and rinsed sesame seeds in a blender or food processor along with dates, salt, and water and process until smooth and creamy (this will take about five minutes). Proceed with recipe or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
2. Add vanilla and bananas to the sesame milk and process until well combined.
3. Transfer to a non-reactive container, add orange essential oil, and stir.
4. Pour into glasses, garnish with black sesame seeds (if using), and serve.
- Make sure you soak the sesame seeds properly to avoid excess bitterness.
- If you want a smoother texture, strain the sesame milk with a mesh sieve or nut bag.
- If additional sweetness is desired, add more dates and/or maple syrup or raw, unfiltered honey (about 1/2 teaspoon).
- If Medjool dates aren’t available, use the smaller Deglet Noor variety and double the quantity.
- To serve warm, gently heat the sesame milk in a saucepan over low heat before blending the smoothie. Don’t overheat. Excessive heat will diminish the nutrition of both the sesame seeds and the orange essential oil.
Photos by Shiraz Leyva