Take the Bitter with the Sweet

Tahini Banana Bread Slice

My new year didn’t start with nibbling or slurping leaves. I’m going for the comfort food with a wicked twist: Tahini Banana Bread. It has carbs. It’s nutty. It’s not gluten-free. It’s made with cow-milk, rich butter. And, it’s sugary. The new year needs to start on a happy note.

Last year ended on a sour note. Although this year is looking as if more strength is needed to fight against a conservative trend, this is the time when comfort food is mostly needed. So, when life presents itself as black spotted, grimy bananas with fruit fly colonies, mash the hell out of them (clean off the fruit flies first!). Whip them with melted butter, tahini, coconut sugar and and all the other ingredients to make life sugary sweet again. Yea, it’s good to know how to fight a good fight.

Tahini is an interesting ingredient, which is slightly similar to peanut butter. It’s an old-world, immigrant ingredient, in which Eurocentric tastebuds celebrate it as a food trend. It doesn’t taste good by itself (at least to me). That’s why a hint of cinnamon is added to this recipe to compliment tahini’s bitter, nutty flavor. Because of the bitter tahini, this banana bread is slightly sweeter than other baked sweet bread recipes. It’s how to take the bitter with the sweet. 

Over Ripe Bananas

In addition, the Tahini Banana Bread is garnished with sesame seeds and filled with large chunks of walnuts and dates. Dates don’t look too appetizing to eat, but they have a caramelized, syrupy sweet taste. When the stress of politics, work, or relationships prevent a good night sleep, a few dates with a shot of rum while reading a book relaxes a restless mind.

Walnuts and Dates

My restless mind is reading “The Sympathizer,” a novel by Viet Thanh Nguyen. For a book that won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, it starts off a bit boring. At times the character rambles on too much. The first few chapters were reread, because I didn’t understand the characters or events (I’ve had to reread the first couple chapters of a few of my favorite books, including works by Toni Morrison and Zora Neale Hurston). Boring books shouldn’t waste my time, but the main character’s sarcasm and endless rambling are embedded with lessons in racism against Asian-Americans. And, I do sympathize with the main character, despite his deep personality flaws and actions. This book was chosen to take a break from stories about the African Diaspora, but I unknowingly picked book about another group people who feel invisible in this country. Maybe this book isn’t quite boring — the book’s duality theme is gradually inspiring me to think about current events in this country. Starting with humbling understanding a conservative mindset.

The holidays are over. The New Year’s faux fasting are ending. It’s a transitional year. New beginnings into an unknown world of conservatism. But, I’m learning to fight for diversity and comfort people who are afraid of change. While fighting for the voiceless, it does help to understand the opposing side, and it takes a special intelligence to achieve it. My mind is restless thinking about change this year, but a slice of Tahini Banana Bread provides a bit of needed comfort.  

Tahini Banana Bread

Tahini Banana Bread


  • 3 to 4 overripe bananas
  • 1/3 cup melted, cool and salted butter or use coconut oil (gently heat in microwave to melt)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ap, unbleached white flour
  • 1/2 cup of wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds, more for garnish
  • 10 dates, discard seeds, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9” x 5” x 3” loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Whisk in the butter, egg, tahini, coconut sugar and vanilla.
  3. In another large bowl, toss white and wheat flours, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt, cinnamon, sesame seeds, dates and walnuts. Make a ‘well’ in the bowl by pushing the dry ingredients towards the edge to make a 'donut' hole to expose the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Pour wet ingredients into the ‘well’ of the bowl. Using a spatula, gently fold ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
  5. Pour tahini-banana batter into the butter loaf pan. If necessary, smooth the top with a spatula. Garnish with sesame seeds.
  6. Place loaf pan into the oven and bake from 45 minutes to one hour, or until the bread is completely finished cooking. Insert a toothpick into the center of the bread to test doneness. If the toothpick comes out with a tad bit of crumbs or dry, it’s done cooking.
  7. Remove bread from the oven onto a wire rack and cool for about 10 minutes. If necessary, run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread from the pan. Remove bread from the loaf pan onto the wire rack to completely cool.
  8. Slice and enjoy with Vanilla Rose Ice Cream!