Tasty, teeny sunflower seeds. The kid and baseball fan’s favorite snack. There’s just something entertaining about stuffing your mouth full of those delicious morsels and spending hours trying to de-shell them. Talk about working for your food! But what a scrumptious reward once you dig the meat out of the shells with your teeth and get to crunch into those tasty kernels. Maybe you occasionally indulge in this snacking pleasure. Or you might even go crazy every so often and add sunflower seeds to a salad… but that’s pretty much as exciting as it gets culinary wise for sunflower seeds. Right?
Heck no! Those wee kernels that pack a flavor punch deserve better than just to be used as a salad topper or a once-in-a-very-great-while snack. Sunflower seeds are chock full of unsaturated fats, fiber, minerals and vitamins. Here are four ways to incorporate nutrient-rich sunflower seeds into your regular dishes.
1. Make savory cookies
Move over walnuts, pecans and almonds. There’s a new nut in the baked goods business. Add a bit of crunch (and some savory flavor!) to your favorite cookies or muffins by swapping out sunflower seeds for your usual nuts.
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup raw sugar
1 cup organic butter
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs (local)
2 cups organic flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 cups organic quick oats
1 cup sunflower kernels
Place first five ingredients in your mixing bowl. Add next four ingredients. Mix. Add the oats and kernels. Drop by the spoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 12 minutes for a softer chewier cookie, or 15 minutes for a crispier cookie.
2. Butter it up with sunflower seeds
Sunflower seed butter? Yep. This butter made from sunflower kernels is similar to almond or any other nut butter, but much lighter and creamier. Here’s how to make it yourself:
Toast 1 cup raw sunflower kernels in the oven at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. They should look perfectly golden brown. Let them cool, and then blend them in a food processor. While blending add 1 tablespoon of olive oil at a time until the butter turns into a consistency comparable with peanut butter.
That’s it! Spread your homemade butter over crackers or toast, or any place that you would use regular butter. Store your sunflower butter in the refrigerator in a glass jar.
3. Add some sun to your trail mix
Don’t leave out sunflower seeds from your favorite trail mix. They’ll be sad. (And so will you, probably.) Sunflower seeds are a good source of healthy fats, vitamin E and, like many nuts, protein. Mix together a combination of your favorite dried fruits and nuts to make a simple trail mix. Chomp on your homemade trail mix when those afternoon munchies start nagging at you instead of unhealthy potato chips, cookies or other junk food snacks.
4. Make a creamy dressing
Make your homemade dressings creamy by adding ground sunflower seeds. This trick is perfect for those who need non-dairy but want the velvety texture of dairy dressings.
1/2 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1 cup water
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp Bragg’s, nama shoyu, or tamari
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried dill or basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp minced garlic
Put all ingredients in a food processor, and blend until creamy and smooth.
image: Smitten with Kittens