Cooking with Sunflower Seeds: Tips and Tricks

Sunflower seeds are just one of many foods - including avocado, chia seeds, Japanese sweet potato and zucchini - that I never enjoyed until after my celiac disease diagnosis. When I could eat gluten, I had no reason to think outside of the bread-granola bar-meat-potatoes box.

In the three years since my intestines, daily menu and lifestyle were thrown upside down, though, sunflower seeds have become regulars. Not only are these babies high in Vitamin E, copper, Vitamin B1 and magnesium, but they also pack a punch of protein, healthy fats and antioxidants. Studies have also shown that sunflower seeds can help lower the chances of heart disease and cancer, decrease cholesterol and calm your nerves, muscles and blood vessels. Basically, sunflower seeds prove that good things can come in small (and crunchy) packages.

casey the college celiac, cooking, sunflower seeds

How to eat them? Gather your appetite (and possibly a bib to catch any drool) and let's visit some of my favorite ways to enjoy sunflower seeds!

First, breakfast - one of my favorite times to munch on some seeds. As fans of my Instagram have seen plenty of times, no smoothie bowl is complete (to my taste buds' standards) without a crunchy topping. Cue the sunflower seeds! While you can definitely sprinkle your own raw seeds on a smoothie, I personally love using Enjoy Life's Beach Bash Trail Mix, which is packed with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, along with some dried fruit.

casey the college celiac, smoothie bowl, oatmeal, yogurt,
A few breakfast favorites!
Sunflower seeds also make a prominent - and delicious - appearance in my homemade granola. Not only do they add a crunch, but also an earthy flavor. Depending on what kind of granola you want, you can also manipulate sunflower seeds to your advantage. For a clumpier granola, you can partly grind up the sunflowers into a meal with a few chunks left. For a looser granola that is more similar to muesli or trail mix, leave your sunflowers alone and let them do their thang! Sprinkle your masterpiece on smoothies, yogurt or even oatless oatmeal.

Now, for lunch or dinner. One of the best parts about sunflower seeds is that they can be sweet or savory. You (and your cravings) decide. Sunflower (and their alter-ego, pumpkin) seeds make the perfect crunchy accessory to a veggie rainbow bowl or stuffed zucchini balls or boats. You can even use sunflower seeds as a crumble topping for homemade mac and cheese!

casey the college celiac, pesto, vegan, pizza
All that pesto and seeds!
My favorite savory sunflower seed secret weapon? Blending some sunflower seeds with pumpkin and hemp seeds, leafy greens, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon for a vegan, seed-stuffed pesto! Spread this pesto on sweet potato salmon sliders or on pizza crust instead of tomato sauce, mix it into a zoodle stir fry or just dunk veggies into a creamy, healthy dip.

Finally, dessert (or a sweet snack). I always add some raw sunflower seeds into my bliss balls for a crunchy, chewy, creamy pre-workout snack. Like with the granola, you can also grind sunflower seeds in a meal or even create your own sun butter for a creamy core! Besides including the sunflower seeds in the bliss balls, you can also roll them in the sunflower meal for a crunchy exterior. You can also add sunflowers into my superfood cookies instead of banana chips and/or cacao nibs - dessert has never been so healthy and delicious at the same time!

casey the college celiac, bliss ball, vegan
A bite of bliss!
Still hungry for more recipes featuring sunflower seeds? Here are a few of my favorites from around the blogosphere!

  • Sunflower Seed Butter Cheesecake: Audrey always delivers delicious, allergen-friendly recipes...and this cheesecake is no exception! Sunflower butter has never tasted so cold and creamy.
  • Sunflower Seed Alfredo Sauce: An Alfredo sauce minus the dairy? Creamy, dreamy - yes please! 
  • Homemade Sunshine Burger: Vegans, look no further for a tasty burger than this patty made from brown rice, sunflower seeds, carrots and spices. I haven't made this yet, but it is high on my to-do list...
  • Best Vegan Double Chocolate Sunflower Brownies: I'd be remiss if I didn't list a recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Brandi at The Vegan 8. I saw chocolate plus sunflower seeds and was sold. 
  • Raw Sunflower Seed Sour Cream: I'll admit that I've never been a huge fan of sour cream, but I'm pretty sure that this vegan version would convert me...

As I've said several times before, celiac has been a blessing as much as (at times) a curse. Celiac motivated me to try tons of new foods, many of which have become staples of my diet...including the modest sunflower seed.

Who knew eating outside of the box would be so tasty?

*Also found at Best of the BlogosphereTotally Terrific TuesdayWine'd Down Wednesday,  What's Cookin' Wednesday, Let's Get RealVegetarianMama and ShareFest!*

Has celiac disease - or food allergies - expanded your diet even as it limits it? How do you enjoy sunflower seeds? Comment below!

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  1. Seeded pesto sounds so good! You're so creative, I would have never thought of half of those things you've mentioned with using sunflower seeds!


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