My friends always joked they’d rather go to my next-door neighbor’s house than mine – ours didn’t have “good” snacks. Little did they know, ours had the best snacks – fresh fruit on the counter and vegetables in the fridge. These fruits and vegetables merely appeared in our kitchen; I had never thought about where they were from, how they were grown, or who harvested them. It wasn’t until I went to Israel in 2000 and experienced going to the Shuk or market in Jerusalem, that I realized just how amazing fresh produce really is.
My love for markets grew last year. Living in Israel to teach English, I was lucky to have an open market just a few blocks away. I’d go at the beginning of each week to buy my fruit, vegetables, and protein for the week. My staples included tomatoes, cucumbers and onions (classic Israeli salad) sweet potatoes, apples, bananas, and whatever special fruit was in season. Winter brought about strawberries, and as the weather started heating up I could purchase another favorite of mine, avocados.
Believe it or not, my sisters and I (affectionately referred to as SheJAmz- Shelby, Jackie, and Amy Z.) decided to start Soom Foods and sell Tehina because of our appreciation of such fresh produce markets. What do deliciously roasted and pressed sesame seeds have to do with fresh produce?
Tehina has a great history. It has been used for centuries in North Africa, Greece, Turkey, East Asian and Middle Eastern Countries. Because it’s loaded with lots of calcium and protein, Tehina is often used in vegetarian and vegan dishes. If you compare Tehina to peanut butter, it has much lower levels of sugar and saturated fats!
Tehina is also very versatile. It can be eaten plain, as it’s subtly sweet and salty flavor combination compliments fruit and vegetables alike. My sister Shelby likes to drizzle a spoonful of Soom Foods Tehina onto yogurt with fresh fruit. Our dad likes to mix it with honey and use it instead of peanut butter to eat with bananas. Our brother-in-law, Omri, blends it with chickpeas, lemon juice, and garlic to make the best hummus for dipping vegetables. Mom has perfected a Mediterranean chicken dish made with tehina, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. Jackie bakes with it, mastering oatmeal cookies and vegan brownies. And me? I’m merely the taster.
Soom Foods is honored to be at Central Farm Markets this weekend. We will join Chef Lynn on Saturday at Pike Central’s Cook’s Corner for tastings of her Edamame Hummus, made with our Tehina, and we will be at Bethesda Central on Sunday too. We look forward to meeting you and sharing recipe ideas with you!
This blog post was written by Amy Zitelman, one of the Co-Founders of Soom Foods. To learn more about Soom Foods and their Tehina, visit their website.