Thursday, January 03, 2013

Open Sesame, Black Sesame, White Sesame

Happy New Year everyone!

I took a long break for Christmas and finally we all survived the Mayan prophecy but Nic asks in an almost sinister manner - How do you know if we're not all walking zombies? What if we all died in our sleep on 21 Dec and we're now in an alternate universe but we are unaware of it?

My retort to that is: if I were a zombie, I'm still a zombie with my old personality - that is, I still want to look good, age well and eat well.

Ah so.

But this zombie has promised to write about my other discovery on getting hair to become black.

See, vain zombie this is!

Of course besides dyeing my hair with henna (something which my hair stylist, Desmond absolutely does not like but hey, it's my hair OK and my brain and I certainly don't want chemicals seeping into my brain cells for an hour), I have attempted to adjust my diet to include more hair-friendly ingredients.

Just the other day when I was back home in Banting, my 34 year old sister was complaining that she can't stand her white hair and it's not just on her head! LOL. Lest I sound weird, yes, hairs down south can also turn white!

And of course my best friend who is my age (38) also started telling me that she has seen some white hair on her head.

So you see, call me vain or call my sister or best friend vain but white hair is quite ugly especially if they're popping up in places the sun don't shine!

Anyway, my recent discovery is black sesame seeds.

There's nothing new about them as they've always been highly regarded in Chinese food.

Every Chinese household has a bottle of sesame seed oil.

Every Indian household also would have a bottle of sesame oil.

But herein lies the difference. Chinese sesame seed oil is made for cooking. Indian sesame seed oil is made for slathering on the hair and body!

I found out one day when my other best pal, Jana, told me she wanted to do a body massage for me but she need oil. Sesame oil. So we actually drove all around George Town and stopping at each Indian Muslim roadside stall to ask if they sold Indian sesame oil for massage.

Indian sesame oil is made for massage because of its nourishing and detoxification properties. When I was in Kerala some years ago and was given a full body oil massage, I wish I had asked the tiny Indian girl if she was using warmed up sesame oil. The massage was wonderful but the oily residue wasn't (despite the powdered herbal wash I used afterwards to get rid of the oiliness!).

Now don't you go substituting with Chinese sesame seed oil because the Chinese cooking version is made from toasted sesame seeds. You will smell like Chinese food if you do!

Anyway, black sesame seeds are considered more potent than the regular beige sesame seeds (of which Chinese sesame oil is made with).

Black sesame seeds contain linoleic acid to lower cholesterol and Vitamin E to keep skin smooth and nourished. Plus it contains iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, copper, phosphorous, vitamin B1, vitamin B6, unsaturated oleic, protein, and folic acid.

And if you can't stand drinking milk (like me), eating sesame seeds is a substitute for milk as it contains a good amount of calcium! (That's why I also like eating ikan bilis, another good source of calcium. So you see, you don't need to drink milk if you're not the milk-drinking sort.)

Eating black sesame seeds nourishes the blood, improves eyesight, prevents constipation, encourages milk flow in breastfeeding women, promotes hair growth and best of all, slows down aging!

If you are dizzy, have ringing in your ears, high blood, coughs, grey or dry hair, this humble looking seed is the food you should be eating regularly (as the seeds target the liver, kidneys and spleen). It is considered neutral unlike some foods which can be either warming or cooling.

That is why Chinese love their black sesame seed dessert or paste - now I get it. It's for nourishment of the body and hair and the elderly are encouraged to take this dessert from time to time.

For a couple of easy peasy recipes using black sesame seeds, go to Jodie's kitchen.

How to use 

Black sesame seeds should be toasted lightly without oil in a pan and cooled before you use them. However I've just eaten them raw. I chew them by the handfuls when I watch TV.

If you can't stand eating raw sesame seeds, you can sprinkle them over your salads or rice. Or you can whizz them in a blender and make tahini. I've never made tahini with black sesame seeds, only white. The white tahini can be used with garbanzo beans - just blend them with some olive oil and salt and lemon juice to make a luscious hummus. (Here's a great way to make a Chinese style white sesame paste.)

So there you go....I presume that eating black sesame seeds is part of the overall discipline but as all food tonics go, effects won't be immediate. Besides eating foods like these, I also buy herbal hair oil from the Indian shops in town and give myself a hair massage once a fortnight with the oils. And as you know I have recently turned to henna to dye the ugly white hair.

Speaking of hair, did you know that mint leaves and kaffir limes are great for scalp and hair? I could do an entire ebook on hair remedies, given my fascination with how to get my crowning glory looking spiffy and pretty without the artificial gels, sprays or fumes.

(Another food that is great for turning white hair to black is Korean ginseng. Potent stuff, that. My 94 year old grandma's hair started turning black when my aunt fed her minute amounts of Korean ginseng. And I could see the changes in her hair. That's how potent Korean ginseng is!)

What hair darkening remedies or folk remedies have you heard about? Do share ;-) 

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