Do you love a creamy nut butter as much as I do? Today I have a budget-friendly, simple, and nutritious recipe for you! While it’s not technically a nut butter, it is a seed butter and tastes similar to almond butter: honey cinnamon sunflower seed butter.
Due to the drought in California, almond butter has become insanely expensive (I saw a jar recently for $20!) and may not be the most environmentally conscientious purchase. Meat is not the only food to consider when altering your diet to eat more sustainably. So what’s a viable alternative to the earthy, rich taste of almond butter?
(I’m not saying to avoid eating almonds. Almonds are nutritious, taste good, and significantly benefit California’s economy. I’m simply saying that eating too much of one food – whether it’s gallons of almond milk per week or beef at every dinner – can have negative benefits in terms of sustainability. The environment and agriculture thrive on variety – and so do our bodies.)
Don’t mistake me – I love peanut butter and eat it often. But I also know that nuts and seeds offer different tastes and nutritional benefits that prevent monotony in one’s diet. As I said above, variety in food is key for optimal nutrition. The more variety of foods you eat, the more variety of nutrients you get in your body.
There’s a wide variety of nut and seed butters out there, beyond peanut butter and almond butter. Basically, if it’s a nut or a seed, you can grind it into a butter. Tahini is even a seed butter – it’s ground sesame seeds.
There are numerous possibilities when it comes to nut and seed butters. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, pecans, and hazelnuts are all delicious alternatives to almonds and all pack a powerful nutritional punch (and these nuts/seeds are not grown in California). Each one has a different flavor and texture: cashew butter is buttery and mellow, pumpkin seeds are more savory and thick in texture, and sunflower butter is smooth and slightly nutty.
Plus, sunflower seeds are inexpensive – based on the prices out here in Seattle, this entire recipe cost about $2. I purchased the raw, hulled sunflower seeds from the organic bulk bins.
If you’ve never made your own homemade nut or seed butter, you are missing out. The process is simple: you roast the nuts or seeds, let cool, puree in a food processor or high-speed blender, and enjoy.
(If your food processor begins to feel hot or stops, simply swear at it a bit, turn it off for a 15 minutes, and wait. If it still is overheated, wait another 15 minutes. Your sunflower seed butter will not be ruined, so simply resume blending once your food processor has cooled down.)
I added a touch of honey for mild sweetness and cinnamon as a compliment to the flavor of the sunflower seeds. The combination of flavors is enticing – it’s tempting to eat this by the spoonful straight out of the jar!
The roasting boosts the flavor and makes the nut or seed butter last longer – up to a month when stored in the fridge. Although, as we hungry runners all know, the chances of a creamy, nutty, delicious spread actually lasting a full month is low. It just tastes too good not to add to your breakfast or have as your afternoon snack!
Sunflower seed butter is a bountiful source of protein, healthy fats, vitamin E, magnesium, folic acid, and selenium. This honey cinnamon sunflower seed butter is naturally vegetarian, gluten free, and dairy free and serves as a great option for those with nut allergies.
Since the flavor is similar to almond butter, you use it in the same way: on whole grain bread for a sandwich, with fruit as a snack, stirred into your morning bowl of oats, or even on top of a baked sweet potato.
Honey Cinnamon Sunflower Seed Butter
- 2-1/2 cups shelled raw sunflower seeds
- Pinch of sea salt
- Pinch ~1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Scant 1 tablespoon clover honey
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the sunflowers seeds thinly on a baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes, stirring once through for even cooking.
- Let the sunflower seeds cool.
- Place the sunflower seeds, sea salt, and cinnamon in a food processor or high-speed blender. Pulse to break up the seeds.
- Puree into a butter - this will take about 10-20 minutes, depending on your food processor. The sunflower seeds will first turn into a meal, then a thick paste, and eventually a butter - patience is key. Every couple minutes, stop the blender and press the sunflower seeds back down to the bottom if they have climbed up the sides of the blender.
- Once the sunflower seeds are turned into butter, drizzle in the honey and pulse a few times to combine.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one month!
What’s your favorite nut or seed butter?
What’s one piece of kitchen equipment you couldn’t live without?
What are your plans this weekend?