Star Ingredient: Sunflower Seeds

Toasted sunflower seeds

I love sunflower seeds! They’re totally delicious and go well with so many things, both sweet and savoury. You can eat them raw or slightly toasted, which really brings out their nutty flavour.

Sunflower seeds come from sunflowers (no surprise there), and are naturally encased in a gray or black shell, which sometimes has stripes. If you want to grow sunflowers or sunflower shoots (which by the way are also delicious and nutritious), you will need them in their shells.

I buy them raw, shelled and by the kilogram from my local nut and seed supplier, Yellow Submarine, which is a lot cheaper than buying a small packet from a supermarket. You can also buy them ready-roasted at some retailers if you can’t be bothered to toast your own.

Healthy, healthy, healthy!

Sunflower seeds are highly nutritious. These are just a few of the important vitamins and minerals they provide:

  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Selenium
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium

They are also excellent sources of fibre and essential fatty acids, and are high in anti-oxidants, reducing inflammation and therefore the risk of many different diseases, from arthritis and cancer to diabetes and heart disease. They reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, keep our bones, muscles and thyroid healthy, improve our skin, calm our nerves and reduce depression. Need I go on?

How to toast sunflower seeds

Bear in mind that heating anything tends to reduce its nutritional profile slightly. In this case, I personally think it’s worth it, at least some of the time.

Add at touch of coconut oil (first prize as it doesn’t denature on heating) or else olive oil to a pan and warm on low heat.

Dash of olive oil

Now add raw sunflower seeds and give them a good stir to distribute the oil.

Add raw sunflower seeds

Cook on low heat, stirring often, until they are as toasted as you like. Do keep an eye on them though as they tend to burn easily – although if it’s only a few that are a bit burnt, you can just stir them in to the rest and they still taste good.

Toasted sunflower seeds

Lightly toasted sunflower seeds

Take them off the heat and allow to cool in the pan, or transfer to a cold plate if you want them to cool a bit quicker. Once they’re completely cool, transfer them to a container to store.

Store seeds in a jar

Toasted, they easily keep a couple of weeks before they can start tasting a bit stale.

Uses for sunflower seeds

So many!! For example:

  • Eat them raw or toasted, either plain or with a grind of salt
  • Blend them into smoothies
  • Sprinkle them over salads
  • Add to muesli, oats or other cereals
  • Add to rice dishes
  • Add to sautéed veg (especially good with broccoli)
  • Add them to Greek yoghurt and fruit and/or plain honey for a quick, delicious and healthy breakfast or dessert
  • Add them to biscuit or bread dough or cake batter
  • Use them in sweet bites (like these)
  • Use them as cake decoration (especially good on – and in – carrot cake!)
  • Grind them up roughly and add herbs and spices to make dukkah
  • Roll chicken, fish or meat in ground seeds instead of breadcrumbs
  • Grind them up to make sunflower seed butter (watch out for a recipe for this soon)

And many more… However you eat them, I’d really recommend you give them a try as soon as you can get your hands on some!

Toasted sunflower seeds

 

© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2016

 

 

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