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I love Greek Halva, a healthy and delicious lenten dessert

Updated on August 23, 2017

A little information about greek halva

In Greece when we are talking about Halva we mean two different lenten, tasty and nutritious desserts.

One is made from tahini and we buy it ready from the supermarket.

It has a lot of variations. Simple with vanilla flavour, with chocholate, with almonds or pistachio.

We can eat it either as it is with bread and olives or we can make a lot of different desserts with it.

Such as stuffed sweet patties, lented fudges, cakes, pies and whatever our imagination takes us.

And the other is from semolina and we prepare it at home.

We can eat it with a lot of variations as well such as with raisins, pistachio, almonds, walnuts and I found a recipe recently with strawberries and carrot.

Nutritional Value

Tahinenios Halvas:

It is rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, selenium and antioxidants. Regarding the calorific value, the combination of ingredients, sesame and sugars, impart high energy content.

The fact that halvas is composed by 60% of sesame tahini, result in the beneficial properties of the grain to be transported to the dessert as well.

The content of halva in fatty acids is similar to tahini.

The higher nutrient content in tahini are fatty acids. Are mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. The concentration of saturated fatty acids is low. The intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids is considered necessary by the body as it can not synthesize them. For these reasons halva is a highly nutritious food.

When halva is consumed with foods containing lysine, such as nuts and legumes, the resulting protein is of high biological value and availability as it approaches the biological value of animal protein. So eating halva plain or with nuts or legumes is a good source of protein of high biological value for people who are vegetarians or are fasting.

Although halva can be very beneficial food for the body as it is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants, you should beware of its high caloric value.

Excessive eating can lead us to a great increase of our daily energy intake, resulting in weight gain (100 gr product yields around 540 Kcal).

Semolina Halvas

The semolina halva constitutes a complete nutritional proposal and besides its unique taste, striking is its nutritional value.

Analytically, it ranks first among all the Lenten desserts when eaten in a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Is rich in antioxidants.

Olive oil and semolina added to Halva makes it rich in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which helps lowering bad cholesterol and triglycerides, without reducing the level of good cholesterol in the blood.

At the same time olive oil contains vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant.

It is ideal in cases of vegetarianism and fasting thanks to its high content of protein of high biological value (of the meal).

Good source of phosphorus, resulting halva to participate in the formation of teeth, bones, and various metabolic diergasies.Idanikos for people with hypertension because is low in sodium, which increases blood pressure.

Rich in B vitamins that strengthen the functioning of the nervous system, mental clarity, memory and metavolism.however as with any food so and halva should be careful in consumption because it is rich in calories due to the olive oil and sugar it contains.

The calories value is high, a portion of 100g contains 540 Kcal calories.

It has a high sugar content which is associated with increased diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, while damaging to dental health, and may adversely affect the action of the immune system.

It is advisable to be avoided by people with allergies, while a meal has significant nutritional value, can cause problems in people who are allergic to wheat or suffer from celiac.

3 Reasons Why I love Greek Halva

I love both tahini and semolina halva.

In this list I will tell you why and I hope you will share my love for them from now on as well.

  1. First of all they are both lenten something very important to my family as we follow our religion rules about fasting.
  2. Secondly they are affordable to eat often since we are consuming them at least once a week.
  3. Thirdly since they are full of healthy filling nutrients I can be relaxed as a mother that my children are eating both deliciously and healthily.

Have you ever tasted greek halva?

See results

How about making your own tahini halva at home? - You can add this way whatever ingredients you like

As I have mentioned we usually buy our tahini halva ready from the supermarket and we have to choose from whatever taste is available there.

What If I told you that it is possible to make your own at home.

This way not only you can use whatever your taste tells you but also you can make it more light in calories I mean by adding less sugar or sugar replacements such as stevia.

I must warn you it isn't a piece of cake. It needs patience and you may not be happy with the result from your first attempts.

But believe me when you will make it the feeling is great.

Don't forget though don't eat it in one day. You will gain weight this way.

Try to resist yourself.

Time required: About 1 hour or more

Difficulty: medium

Materials:

  • 1 1/2 cup Tahini (340 g.)
  • Two and a half cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup. (100ml) water
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Choose either two or three doses vanilla, or grated mastic, or some lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup. unsalted pistachios (or almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or if you love chocolate add melted dark chocolate)

Tools:

  • 1 saucepan
  • 1 silicon spatula
  • 1 stainless steel bowl
  • 1 rectangular mold
  • 1 pair of sail cloth gloves

Instructions:

1. In a saucepan we boil the sugar, the water, the lemon juice and the vanilla (or lemon zest or grated mastic) .

2. When the syrup turns white we begin to stir till it becomes dark brown. That means the caramel is ready.

3. We pour the tahini in a stainless steel bowl and we add the nuts of our choice or the chocolate and stir the mixture.

4. We add (carefully because the caramel is at high temperature) the caramela in the tahini mixture. We add it gradually and not all at the first attempt.We pour it in three or more successive phases, stirring constantly. We can either use a silicon spatula or if we can find a sail cloth glove, we can stir it with our hand.

5. When you have finished adding the caramel to the tahini mixture, stir round until the two mixtures blend together and become "tightened".

6. Halva is ready when all ingredients are homogenized and when you lift it the materials of tahini halva won't scatter. We need all the ingredients to be blent and in solid form.

7. Pour the halva in a bowl or any container of your choice. At this stage we make the halva in the shape we want. We can also add some nuts or grated dark chocolate to the base of the bowl..

8. Let halva cool in the bowl for 20-30 minutes. Depending how "tight" we want it to be, we can leave it for longer. Flip very carefully.

9. When halva cools remove the bowl. If we make it in the summer we keep it refridgerated.

10. Place the halva on a tray and serve. Enjoy!

If you want to try to make your own tahini halva you will need - these materials

Whole Wheat Macedonian Tahini
Whole Wheat Macedonian Tahini

if you want to make halva you will need tahini and this one is the best of all we have here in Greece

 
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Dark Brown Sugar, 24 Ounce Pouch
Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Dark Brown Sugar, 24 Ounce Pouch

The second ingredient of halvas is sugar. Why not choose a healthier one making the halvas healthier as well?

 
Stevia In The Raw, 9.7-Ounce Bakers Bag
Stevia In The Raw, 9.7-Ounce Bakers Bag

You want to try halva but you don't want to increase your calorie intake too much? Then Stevia is your answer. It is really sweet with no calories at all.

 
Authentic Foods Vanilla Powder - 3oz
Authentic Foods Vanilla Powder - 3oz

I mentioned in the recipe you will need to add some vanilla in the syrup as to make it aromatic so here you are.

 
Trader Joe's Dry Roasted & Unsalted Almonds, 16 Ounce
Trader Joe's Dry Roasted & Unsalted Almonds, 16 Ounce

I personally love my halva with almonds. How about trying this flavor yourself as well?

 

Since now I have instructed you on how to make your own tahini halva.

This lens wouldn't be complete If I don't tell you how to make semolina halva as well.

The following recipe is the one I make most often because is very easy and cheap.

As you will see from the ingredients I don't use any fancy nuts or other expensive ingredient.

But don't presume it isn't delicious enough since its cheap. On the contrary it is very tasty and my husband and daughter loves it.

That only matters to me you know.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups coarse semolina
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 pieces of lemon peel

Instructions

  1. In a medium saucepan, add the water, cinnamon, lemon peel and sugar to simmer over medium heat until the sugar melts.
  2. In a deep frying pan, add the olive oil and semolina and stir continuously for about 5-10 minutes, until semolina gets a nice sweet brown color.
  3. Remove both utensils from the heat and slowly add the syrup to the semolina.
  4. Put the pan back on the fire and stir halva for 1 minute, until it thickens.
  5. Remove the cinnamon stick and lemon peel, with which you can decorate your halva when you put it on the plate.
  6. Pour the mixture into a mold or form individual portions in separate bowls, using a large spoon. When it cools, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve.
Cast your vote for Classic Semolina Halvas

Which halva do you prefer?

Tahini or semolina?

Thank you for visiting.Did you learn something new? What's on your mind? - Just say something to show you have passed by. Naturally, if you wish to expand into

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    • Andromachi profile image
      Author

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      @Kim Milai: yes it is super delicious. can't wait to hear your impressions

    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      I'm going to try it it looks delicious!

    • Andromachi profile image
      Author

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      @flycatcherrr: Your own bees; how lucky you are. We simply can't do without honey at home.

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 3 years ago

      Oh my goodness, I have a big weakness for halva - but it never occurred to me to try making my own. You make it seem quite easy to do, and of course I have plenty of honey from my bees to put to good use in it. ... There goes my girlish figure... ;)

    • captainj88 profile image

      Leah J. Hileman 3 years ago from East Berlin, PA, USA

      This looks amazing. What a tasty way to observe Lent!

    • Andromachi profile image
      Author

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      @Shades-of-truth: Nice to hear that. Can't wait to hear from you what you think about my recipe.

    • Shades-of-truth profile image

      Emily Tack 3 years ago from USA

      Now, I'll have to make it at home. I DO combine sesame tahini with honey, and eat it sometimes, but will have to try using different sweeteners. Great idea!

    • Andromachi profile image
      Author

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      @Sundaycoffee: I am glad you liked it. Let me know how it will go. enjoy!

    • profile image

      Sundaycoffee 3 years ago

      We love halva too, but I never thought of making it at home.

      Thanks for sharing the recipe, I might give the tahini one it a try.

    • Andromachi profile image
      Author

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      @bead at home mom: you can start with semolina first which is easier to make. you wont regret it.

    • bead at home mom profile image

      Teri Hansen 3 years ago

      It looks absolutely interesting, don't consider myself much of a cook this may need to be a recipe for when I'm feeling very adventuresome. Thx for the share, now I've heard of a halva.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      This looks absolutely divine.

    • Scindhia H profile image

      Scindhia 3 years ago from Chennai

      Halva looks yummy!

    • Andromachi profile image
      Author

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      @Jo-Jackson: yes it is and you can add whatever nut you want, or raisins if you are fond of them and it becomes more nutrient as well.

    • Andromachi profile image
      Author

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      @ecogranny: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to explain this here because I believe more people will have the same question as you.

      You know here in Greece we have a lot of occasions in which we don't eat meat, fish, eggs and anything dairy. In two occasions we call the period of this time Lent and it lasts 40 days. We have one before Christmas (in which we can eat fish till 17th December) and one before Easter, the Great Lent

      (in which we have a more strict fasting, some of us don't consume oil as well)

      So when I use the term lented in one recipe or ingredient I use it to imply that we consume it usually during those fasting peiods.

      I am working on a lens about orthodox fasting and I believe it will be soon ready and then you will learn more about it

    • Jo-Jackson profile image

      Jo-Jackson 3 years ago

      I didn't vote because I'd want to taste them to decide which is the best, but I think the semolina one looks nice.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 3 years ago from San Francisco

      I am curious about the term "lented dessert." What does that mean? At first I thought it might mean a dessert made with lentils, but I did not see them in the recipe.I must say, anything with caramel intrigues me, and the thought of caramel and tahini together makes me want to leap up and try a small batch.

    • Andromachi profile image
      Author

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      @Margaret Schindel: I will add the stevia recipe soon enough so you will see my idea. It isn't exactly like the halva we are used to eat but the taste sure is.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      I adore Greek desserts including tahini halva, and especially pistachio halva. I don't indulge often because it's so high in sugar, but at least if I make it at home I can use unrefined coconut sugar to make it more nutritious! I'm curious about your suggestion to use Stevia as a sugar alternative, since Stevia cannot caramelize into a syrup the way sugar can. How would that work? Thanks very much for sharing your recipes and your excellent step by step photos!

    • Andromachi profile image
      Author

      Andromachi 3 years ago

      @Adventuretravels: thank you for your kind words. it is tricky but it really worths it.

    • Adventuretravels profile image

      Giovanna Sanguinetti 3 years ago from London UK

      Wow making your own Halva looks bit tricky! It is a work of art. Great lens full of wonderful information and tips. Thanks for sharing.