The first time I tried sunflower seed butter was at a farmers market in Portland, Oregon several years back. I had just passed by the third strawberry stand lining the market’s north side when I stumbled upon a tent with a middle-aged gentleman pedaling exotic-looking nut and seed butters. One of the butters was made of sunflower seeds. Despite my initial reservations I dipped my toothpick in, gave it a lick and walked away with a half pint.
That’s the kind of thing that happens when you visit a bustling farmers market. You try new exotic flavors and discover little gems of health like sunflower seed butter. Thanks Portland. I owe you my love of yet another nut butter for that one.
Since trying sunflower butter that first time I’ve experimented with making my own nut and seed butters at home in order to venture outside the peanut butter realm. Almond, cashew and chia seed nut butters are all delicious but I’d yet to try my hand at sunflower seeds. That is, until now.
Besides their nearly-addictive taste, sunflower seeds are also incredibly healthy. Some tout the shelled variety as a prime food for stress relief since getting to the seed requires so much concentration and focus. In addition, sunflower seeds are also incredibly high in protein and folic acid, and just one quarter-cup serving provides nearly 90 percent of our daily recommended amount of vitamin E. That’s one powerful seed useful for fighting colds and the flu. Plus, they make a fantastic base for raw cookies, which is our next topic of discussion.
Raw cookies have become quite popular lately as a healthy, vegan dessert option that even non health food junkies would love. The concept is simple: Nut butters make a creamy base while dates and vanilla extract naturally sweeten, and raw or roasted whole nuts (such as almonds and cashews) provide a slightly chunky, gritty texture. The result is a no-bake treat that touts plenty of health benefits and won’t send your blood sugar level sky rocketing.
Our recipe features sunflower seeds whirled into a creamy butter, dates, cashews, peanuts and a splash of vanilla. The result is a perfect take along snack that’s sweet enough to be a dessert. Give them a try for yourself. Or, make up your own variety with your favorite flavors. Peanut butter raw cookies are still at the top of my list but these take a close second.
Raw Sunflower Butter Cookies
yields ~22 cookies
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (made from 6 oz. salted roasted sunflower seeds)
1 cup nuts (we used 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, 1/2 cup salted roasted cashews)
18-20 medjool or deglet nour dates, pitted (~1 cup)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Method | If working with unprocessed sunflower seeds, place your seeds in a food processer and whirl until nut butter forms, scraping down sides as needed. Otherwise just add your sunflower butter directly to the food processor. Next add dates, nuts and vanilla extract and process until a loose dough forms. Some slightly larger pieces of nuts or dates may remain; that’s fine. Scoop out 1 Tbsp measurements of dough and carefully form into small discs. Place on a parchment-lined sheet and, using a fork, make a criss-cross pattern (optional). Place in an airtight container and refrigerate to harden. Alternatively, eat immediately or place in the freezer for longer-term storage. Will keep for several weeks when frozen.
Estimated nutrition per cookie: 122 calories, 6 g fat, 0.7 g saturated fat, 31 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrates, 1.8 g fiber, 11.7 g sugar, 3.5 protein.
Estimated total cost: $6.79
Estimated cost per cookie: $0.30
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January 21st, 2013