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Eat Well Aug. 9. 2013

Cinnamon Tahini Protein Smoothie

Aug. 9. 2013
McKel Hill

McKel Hill

MS, RDN, LDN, Dietitian

Mid afternoon the other day, I was hungry (per usual) and wanted something sweet, but at the same time nothing that would weight me down because let’s face it, I had work to do! I’ve been on a kick with cinnamon tahini lately and many of you continue to ask me where I buy it. I don’t, I whip it up! I thought this would be great flavor in a smoothie and just like that an idea came into fruition. Cinnamon Tahini Protein Smoothie.

I often hear with my clients they experience the dreaded 3-4 o’ clock slump where their energy is wiped out already for the day and need a “pick me up”, which eventually leads them to 1) simple sugars in the form of vending machine candies, 2) a snack high in refined carbohydrates, or 3) coffee or some other delivery system of caffeine. Ever wonder why that “slump” occurs?

Most likely it’s due to eating a very large, heavy, complex meal at lunch time and our energies are simply used towards digesting the food. It also could be due to some other individual reasons, but mainly it’s what were eating the day before, or the meal before that will dictate our energy levels.

This smoothie my friends, can be your new afternoon “pick me up”. This Cinnamon Tahini Protein Smoothie has everything you need to maintain your energy throughout the afternoon, curb your hunger until after you beat rush hour traffic on the way home for dinner, running errands, or in my case satisfying a sweet tooth and providing lasting energy to finish work. It’s full of healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals (especially from the tahini). Also, you don’t have to reserve this smoothie just for the afternoon time, I also enjoy this as a dessert smoothie.

Tahini power. In just 2 tablespoons (28 grams) of mineral rich tahini contains about 10% DV of iron, 25% DV of magnesium, 22% DV phosphorus, 21% DV copper, 20% DV manganese and zinc and 30% thiamine, protein, healthy fats, and fiber!

Quick primer on what %DV (daily value) means // basically it’s based off recommendations for key nutrients in a 2,000-2,500 calorie diet (can generally be applied to diets that are more or less than 2,000 calories). Anything with 5% or less is considered “lower” in that nutrient, anything 20% or more is considered “higher” in that nutrient.

Depending on the time of day and if you’re not caffeine sensitive, why not add a little coffee to it (around 4 oz.) for a mini-boost. Even though I adore the taste of coffee, I’m in the caffeine sensitive department, so I forgo on this addition.

Cinnamon Tahini Protein Smoothie
Recipe Type: smoothie
Author: McKel Hill, MS, RD, LDn
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 1
A protein packed smoothie with healthy fats and fiber from tahini and chia seeds to keep you full and satisfied.
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Sunwarrior- of your choice)
  • 1/2 to 1 frozen banana (stevia for sugar free version)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of tahini
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ice
  1. Simply combine all ingredients in a Vitamix or high speed blender until smooth. I like to first combine the almond milk with the chia seeds and let blend for about 2 minutes so the chia seeds can start absorbing the almond milk.
  2. Add ice last.
  3. Serve with a straw.
  4. ENJOY!

TIPS// you can make this in the morning before work and keep it cool in a thermos, cooler, fridge, etc. If you have an office where you have access to an outlet, a break room, or a little privacy, you can bring a travel blender (this is my favorite which I use for single serving smoothies and it’s very affordable), and simply blend this up in under 3 minutes! Who doesn’t have time for that?

Do you ever experience the afternoon slump? How do you get passed it? Share below!

Have  a productive day!

xo McKel

The Recipe

Serves 1



  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I like Sunwarrior- of your choice)
  • 1/2 to 1 frozen banana (stevia for sugar free version)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of tahini
  • 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup ice


  1. Simply combine all ingredients in a Vitamix or high speed blender until smooth. I like to first combine the almond milk with the chia seeds and let blend for about 2 minutes so the chia seeds can start absorbing the almond milk.
  2. Add ice last.
  3. Serve with a straw.
  4. ENJOY!

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Did you try it out?

Share Your Thoughts & Images

  • Rebecca

    Use 4 oz of prepared Dandy Blend tea for the coffee flavor without the caffeine. This smoothie sounds so good! Love your posts. http://www.dandyblend.com/

    • Melissa

      Would this work with tahini/sesame paste and not powder?

      • McKel Hill

        You use both tahini and a protein powder- sesame or tahini doesn’t come in a powder. Hope that clarifies 😉

  • Tamee

    Love Dandy Blend!

  • Interesting, I always add nut butter but never thought to add tahini to my smoothies! I’d love to pick your brain on ad choices! There is so much out there, I’m a bit overwhelmed. Have a great weekend! Alex

    • Wonderful, glad you like the idea! Honestly, I’m still getting versed in that subject so there wouldn’t be much to pick!

  • Jasmine

    Hi McKel, I really enjoy everything on NS. It’s interesting, helpful, fun ways 2 take eating & drinking sa 2 a whole nother level. A wonderful fount of new knowledge as well. I look forward 2 trying many of the recipes. Thanks

    • Thank you Jasmine that’s very kind of you to say. Thanks for stopping by and come back again 🙂

  • I was going to buy tahini to make my own hummus, but didn’t know what to do with the extra… so glad I found this recipe, looks so good!

  • I very rarely use tahini in sweet recipes because I love it in savory things so much. This looks amazing though. I totally get the 3pm slump too!

  • Sammi

    Hey this smoothie looks yum! Would you make this for breakfast or more if a snack?

    • Well looks like you found the answer! Yes, it can be breakfast, snack, or dessert. Thanks for stopping by and come back soon 🙂

  • Sammi

    Never mind I was too quick to ask before reafing properly.. My bad!

  • Georgia Goldsbrough

    This might be the best smoothie I’ve made yet! Used hemp milk instead of almond so was extra filling. Love the savory taste the tahini brings, perfet balance with a banana! Going to add tahini to more smoothies from now on!

    • Hi Georgia, Awesome! I’m so happy you enjoyed the smoothie- i love the use of hemp milk 😉

  • Dawn

    Please forgive me if you’ve answered this question in the past. I’m in love with your bowls and measuring spoons!! Where would one get these gorgeous tools?

    • Hi Dawn,
      I do get this question a lot and thank you! Many of the wooden bowls and tools I get as gifts from family members and friends who stumble upon them in shops or antique stores (those are my favorites). All the others I typically will indicate where it’s purchased if I know where from 🙂

  • Samantha

    If I do not have access to quality plant based protein powders where I am living right now what can I use in place of the protein powder in this recipe and in your recipes in general? Really enjoy your blog. Thanks!

  • Looking so good. I like your recipe.

  • Sharon Tag

    Has anyone worked out the calorie count of the smoothie? Sounds great!

    • Hi Sharon,
      Great question- you can figure all the details out with nutrition information by entering it into myfitnesspal or livestrong. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Great smoothie idea 🙂 yum, yum 🙂

  • Hi McKel,

    I love your blog! Recipes look delish and your photos are absolutely stunning! This smoothie is an awesome idea and I will be sure to try it. I’ve got a slight obsession with tahini :-).Thank you for sharing!

    Btw, would you be so kind to tell me what theme you are using for your website? it looks so clean and easy to navigate. Thank you <3

    • Hi Sylvia,
      Thank you for the kind words and support! I love tahini as well- it’s amazing! I’ve actually designed a lot of my website from a basic theme from wordpress! It took a lot of time and hard work- the great thing about wordpress is they have so many great themes that are free you can just pick from, whichever represents your individual uniqueness 😉

  • Sara

    Just wondering whether you use unhulled or hulled tahini?

  • Goreti TADA

    I’ve made this recipe 4 times.. Delish!

  • christina tudose

    Hi! Thank you so much for the wonderful recipes you share with us! I was wondering what kind of tahini brand you recommend? Where do you buy yours from?

  • Aviva

    Hi – just saw this recipe and can’t wait to try it. What kind of travel blender do you recommend??

    • Hi Aviva,
      Check out my blog post on blendtec vs. vitamix! I love using vitamix most of my time but blendtec is fantastic as well 😉

  • oh my goodness, tahini and banana… I’m trying this one tomorrow morning 🙂

  • KC

    Have already made this several times and absolutely love it! All the different ingredients compliment each other so well and I love that it’s such a great source of calcium (brownie points for tahini!). Thanks for another wonderful recipe, McKel! 🙂

  • I had tahini in my fridge and was craving a smoothie before we started cooking dinner. I am delighted to say I had all the ingredients required and am now going to make this as a staple! Much appreciated!

  • I finally got around to making this smoothie this morning and it was nothing short of amazing. I was out of bananas, but had frozen peaches on hand so I tossed those in instead as well as a heaping tbsp of coconut oil. Yum. Thanks to you, you’ve gotten me hooked on using tahini in my smoothies instead of nut butters now. I absolutely love it. xx

  • Lauren

    I’m in Israel and just had my first tahini shake at an organic health cafe here. It is absolutely delicious!!! I had to look up a recipe as soon as I got home. I also suggest adding a few dates into the shake, goes really well with all the ingredients.

  • Ted

    Sorry about this. I need to get the following of my chest as I feel that I am in another dimension:

    1. Don’t expect to taste anything other than cinnamon if you add a whole teaspoon for just one glass of smoothie as pictured.
    2. I find it weird (expect in a case of a medical condition) that someone would prefer stevia to a fresh AND OF COURSE UNFROZEN banana. Bananas aren’t that hard to find. Please, stop digging in freezers for the stuff.
    3. The phrase “unsweetened almond milk” is meaningless. Almond milk isn’t sweet to begin with. Would you call whole fat milk “unsemiskimmed”?
    4. Point 3 is even weirder if you consider that you seem worried about sweeteners but have no problem in using “vanilla” almond milk, CHEMICALLY EXTRACTED vanilla extract and of course protein powder…

    Phew, thank you !!!

    • Hi Ted, to answer your questions all seasonings are always adjusted to taste to use how much cinnamon you enjoy! I wrote a blog post on stevia and stevia is something I recommend as a sweetner, a frozen banana is for texture and thickness something you don’t get when you use a fresh banana. Vanilla almond milk is homemade, not from the store as mentioned. Unsweetened almond milk simply means adding no maple syrup or dates to my homemade almond milk recipe. Thanks for reading and hope you enjoy it! 🙂

      • Ted

        In regards with texture, I think that some ice would do the trick. Also, I would definitely substitute protein powder with oats.

        After my morning exercise routine I would recommend the following:
        1 glass of milk
        1 peeled banana (fresh)
        2 tbsp oats (no flavorings/sweeteners)
        1-2 tbsp tahini (no flavorings/sweeteners)
        1 teaspoon honey (unpasteurized)
        sprinkle of cinnamon
        some ice

        What do you think?

  • Ellie

    Made this tonight with added turmeric. Thumbs up.

    • McKel Hill

      High five, glad you enjoyed it Ellie!

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