I grew up loving peanut butter. I ate it on toast, with apples and bananas, in sandwiches or just by the spoonful. Nut allergies weren’t as well publicized back then, and I never had a problem taking peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in my school lunch. Things have definitely changed. Nut allergy awareness is on the rise, with good reason. Even a small amount of nuts or nut products can prove fatal to a nut-allergic person. My stepdaughter brings home notes from school each year warning against packing nut products in her school lunches. A few students in her grade have nut allergies and administrators rightly want to protect them from accidental exposure. A few years ago I started looking for a nut-free alternative to peanut butter, something that would be safe to use in sandwiches or serve with fruit. Sunflower butter, made from sunflower seeds, is a perfect substitute. Because it is made from seeds rather than nuts, it will not trigger nut allergies (of course some people are allergic to sunflower seeds, but it is much less common than tree nut and peanut allergies). We absolutely love the flavor of sunflower butter and it’s become one of my go-to snacks. When I’m feeling hungry between meals, a spoonful of sunflower butter and a piece of fruit always does the trick!
Up until a few months ago, I had both peanut butter and sunflower butter in my kitchen. Recently I noticed that my stomach wasn’t very happy with peanut butter anymore. I tried a few different natural brands, and each time I would get a tummy ache. I’m not sure why this happened, or if it was a temporary thing, but for some reason I’m still able to eat sunflower butter without any issues. I’ve since switched over completely to sunflower butter and it’s become my go-to protein butter. I like making it at home much better than store-bought. It’s cheaper, plus I can control the salt and sweetness levels.
The recipe below is my favorite way to make sunflower butter. The oil level tends to vary by batch; add as much as you like based on personal preference. While peanut butter is usually pretty thick, I prefer my sunflower butter on the slightly “goopy” side– it’s easier to spread and I prefer the texture that way. Make it yourself to see what works best for you!
Have you tried sunflower butter? Better yet, have you tried it homemade?
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- 4 cups raw unsalted sunflower seeds, shelled
- 5-9 tbsp sunflower oil (or any mildly flavored non-solid vegetable oil like grapeseed), amount may vary
- 3 tbsp honey (or to taste) - for vegan use agave nectar or your favorite sweetener
- 1/4 teaspoon, heaping sea salt (or to taste)
You will also need
- Sheet tray, food processor
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the sunflower seeds evenly across a sheet tray and roast until lightly browned and fragrant, stirring occasionally, for about 20-25 minutes. Be sure to check on them often to avoid burning.
- Allow the sunflower seeds to cool to room temperature. In a food processor, combine the roasted sunflower seeds with the honey and salt (use more or less salt and honey to taste, if desired).
- Begin processing the seeds. At first the nut butter will clump together in pieces.
- Add the oil 1 tbsp at a time, smoothing out the butter and processing frequently, until you reach your desired consistency. Scrape down the sides of the processor as necessary. I like my sunflower butter on the soft, semi-goopy side, so I tend to use more oil. This also helps to keep the butter moist when it is refrigerated. You can use less oil for a thicker, drier butter if you prefer. Continue processing until smooth.
- Store your sunflower butter in an airtight container in the refrigerator (I use a mason jar). Use it within a month for freshest taste. As with most natural nut and seed butters, some oil may separate from the butter over time. If this happens, just use a spoon to mix the oil back into the butter.
- Note - if making this for somebody with a nut allergy, make sure you buy sunflower seeds that were not processed on equipment with tree nuts. Also, make sure your kitchen appliances and surfaces have been fully cleaned to avoid contaminating the batch with nut residue. Nut allergies are nothing to mess around with! Before serving to somebody with allergies, make sure that they do not have a sunflower seed allergy. This is much less common than nut allergies, but it does exist. Always best to be safe!