If you believe in sensible snacking (and even if you don’t), you’ve got to get serious about sunflower seeds, the famous “fruit” of the gorgeous sunflower, a native to North America and a member of the daisy family. Not long ago, sunflower seeds were recognized as healthy nutrition … for birds! I remember when my sister brought home a bag and my father asked her where the bird was. Back then, they came in the shell; I had to break them open with my teeth to get to the tasty little kernel on the inside. They are so much easier to enjoy now that they are available shelled. Move over birds!
The nutritional profile of sunflower seeds makes them ideal for humans, too. Did you know that one ounce of shelled sunflower seeds contains nearly 50% the Daily Value for Vitamin E? They deliver antioxidants, powerful compounds that support healthy cells. They also contain fiber, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. And very importantly, sunflower seeds deliver healthy unsaturated fats. Here are some super suggestions for enjoying sunflower seeds:
- Add to cereal, hot or cold.
- Garnish salads and grain dishes.
- Add to cookies, muffins, quick breads and cakes. Here is a favorite recipe for Sunflower Cherry Oatmeal Bars and here’s another favorite recipe for Oatmeal, Coconut and Sunflower Seed Cookies.
- Add to pancakes and waffles.
- Sprinkle over sweet potatoes or roasted vegetables.
- Add to fruit salad, yogurt or frozen dessert.
- Make homemade trail mix or granola and add sunflower seeds.
- Delicious as a snack with a few raisins and dark chocolate chips.
- Bake your own bread? Be sure to sprinkle sunflower seeds over the top before baking. Great on crackers, too! Try these Three Seed Rosemary Crackers.
- Garnish soups, curries and sautéed veggies. I love this recipe for Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup.
- Add to chicken, egg, tuna salad or our wonderful Mock Tuna Salad.
- Add to cream cheese along with your favorite unsweetened fruit spread. Spread on toasted whole grain bread, pita bread or crackers.
- Add to veggie burgers and vegetarian chili.
- Buy fresh sunflower sprouts or sprout them yourself, then make this recipe for Carrot and Sunflower Sprout Salad with Basil and Green Peppercorn Oil.
- Try some purchased Sunflower Seed Butter – just like peanut butter, only made from sunflower seeds. Use as a spread for toast or sandwiches.
- Garnish bean dips and hummus. Here’s what we did with Sunny Hummus with Dippers.
- Make your favorite vinaigrette; add sunflower seeds and puree. Great with a touch of Parmesan cheese!
You’ll find sunflower seeds shelled, unshelled, sprouted, prepackaged and available in bulk bins. You’ll also find sunflower seed oil available on our grocery shelves. High-heat sunflower oil is great for baking and sautéing. Remember: Sunflower seeds include unsaturated fats. That means, once shelled, they can go rancid fairly quickly. This is especially true once they have been roasted. Be sure to store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. If you’ve purchased a large quantity, freezing is a perfect option and won’t affect their flavor or texture.
Do you include sunflower seeds in your sensible snacks and meals? Got a favorite recipe or idea? Let me know!