Sunflower seeds are a delicious snack on their own or as a great addition to many meals. These little seeds tend to be green or grey in color with a hard black shell decorated with stripes. Sunflower seeds pack a huge amount of your daily vitamin and are also high in magnesium and selenium.
Sunflowers exact origin is questionable but most believe that they first originated in Peru or Mexico. They are also one of the first cultivated plants in the United States and were used by Native Americans for over 5,000 years.
When purchasing sunflower seeds you can buy them shelled or unshelled. If you buy them shelled there are many ways to remove the shell besides by hand. The quickest way is to grind them in a seed mill briefly and then place them in cold water where the shells will float to the top and can be removed. If you don’t have a seed mill simply place the seeds into an electric grinder and pulse for short bursts of time so the shells come off but the seeds aren’t ground. Then repeat the cold-water process.
There are many ways to incorporate sunflower seeds in adults and older children’s diets. Sunflower seeds are a great and healthy snack by themselves or lightly salted. Another option is to top your salads with them. Although it is not recommended to give whole sunflower seeds to your little ones; particularly any children under four due to choking hazard, sunflower seed butter is a great option for those beginning solids and up.
Sunflower butter is quick and easy to make, and is a healthy alternative to peanut butter especially to avoid peanut allergies.
- 4 cups roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds (you can roast your own by spreading raw seeds on a cookie sheet and baking in a 325 degree oven for about 15 minutes, until the seeds are turning golden and quite fragrant.)
- 2-4 tablespoons light tasting oil (coconut oil or light olive oil).
- ¼ teaspoon liquid stevia or salt (optional, for your taste preference)
- In the bowl of a 14-cup food processor, place the toasted sunflower seeds and process. (If you have a smaller processor, reduce the seeds proportionately. There needs to be enough room for the seeds to move to convert to butter!)
- As mixture goes from a flour-like consistency to clumping together (the oil is starting to be released from the heat of the machine and friction), add in 2 tablespoons of light tasting oil. Be patient, this can take a several minutes.
- Continue processing, and as the mixture continues to warm, it should turn creamy and smooth and whir happily, easily inside the bowl. If not, it is OK to add a bit more oil until the mixture is runny and whirring smoothly.
- Continue to process for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add in the stevia (or any liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup), and salt to taste, and process to mix. You sunflower butter should be ready at this point...but....
- For an extra creamy punch, if you own a high powered blender, pour the mixture while still warm and liquid-y into the blender cup and process one to two full cycles. (I have tried making it in my blender alone before and EVERY TIME it seemed like my blender was working WAY too hard to accomplish this, so I found the food processor/blender combo to be my best bet). If you do not have a high powered blender, it is also OK to process several more minutes in your processor for additional creaminess.
Sunflower butter is great as a dip for many different kinds of fruit, such as apples and raisins, in place of peanut butter on sandwiches or toast, and as a tasty snack straight off a spoon. Little ones who are beginning solids can enjoy this seed butter on it’s own or in addition to foods they are already accustomed to.
What are some of your favorite ways to eat sunflower seeds? Let us know in the comments below!
Written by Katie Tessier
Title Image: http://photos.tradeholding.com/attach/hash78/48974/iregi_site.jpg
Sunflower image: http://www.pxleyes.com/images/contests/symmetry-in-nature/fullsize/sunflower-seeds-513a05e5c4847_hires.jpg
Sunflower butter image: http://www.dairyfreechick.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/sunflower-butter.jpg
Sunflower butter recipe: http://www.tessadomesticdiva.com/2012/09/homemade-sunflower-seed-butter-extra-creamy.htm