A popular healthy snack in their own right, sunflower seed kernels are also a great plant-based protein substitute for those with peanut allergies. But did you know you could do much more than snack on them? Thatís right. Sunflower seed kernels can be used in appetizers, meals, lunch snacks and more. Here are just some of the fun ways you can enjoy sunflower seed kernels at home.
They make a great salad topper.
It doesnít get much easier than this, really. Just sprinkle a few sunflower seed kernels on top of your green salad for extra crunch and nutrition. As salad add-ins go, this one is simple, healthy and affordable.
Homemade bread ingredient.
If you enjoy making your own bread mixes at home to toss in the bread machine, or simply like whipping up a loaf completely from scratch the old-fashioned way, then you may want to consider throwing a handful or two of sunflower seed kernels into the mix. Itíll make for a heartier loaf, and increase the protein as well. You can also use sunflower seed kernels to dress up a savory, flour-based dinner side like these fun sunflower nut muffins.
Decorate a cheese ball.
Instead of spending half an hour snipping parsley to roll your next party cheese ball in, try rolling it in sunflower seed kernels. Itíll bring a nuttier flavor to your party ball, and save you loads of time. The cool thing about the kernels is that they pair well with nearly any cheese ball recipe, so whichever one is your favorite is worth a try.
Make your own trail mix.
By pairing sunflower seed kernels with things like raisins and dry roasted peanuts, you can make a simple and affordable trail mix for hiking and brown bag lunches. This is also a great mix to keep pre-packaged in small containers in your car. Thereís nothing to melt, and they donít need to be refrigerated. This means you can make them in advance and remain prepared for unexpected highway delays that would otherwise have you pulling off at the nearest fast food drive-through to ward off hunger cravings.
Put them in a cookie.
Not only do they make a fun muffin addition, sunflower seed kernels can also be used in cookies for a more protein-packed after school treat. Taste of Home has a fun and fruity recipe for sunflower seed cookies thatís filled with good things.
Get creative with your soup ingredients.
Not only do sunflower seed kernels make terrific soup garnishes, they can also be used as a soup ingredient as this recipe for broccoli and sunflower seed kernel soup demonstrates. This zesty recipe for sunflower seed soup is interesting as well, and has a bit of African flair.
Make sunflower seed butter.
If your boo has a peanut allergy, or you just like the idea of trying sunflower seed butter, then making your own is a fun afternoon activity you can get the kids involved in. This homemade sunflower seed butter recipe from Soul Veg Mama is just what the doctor ordered. Use it as a sandwich spread, in a salad dressing, or on top of cucumber slices for a nutritious snack.
Practice your patť making skills.
There are a number of raw sunflower seed kernel pate recipes out there suitable for those in the process of going vegan. This combination recipe pairs sunflower pate with collard wraps for superior taste and nutrition literally rolled into one light snack. Other versions that caught my eye from around the web include this sunflower kernel pate from the Avacado Queen, and this simple thirty-minute sunflower pate from Bliss Tree.
Make a perfect (and affordable) pesto.
Substitute sunflower seed kernels for pine nuts using this affordable sunflower seed pesto recipe. I love this idea because I adore pesto and pine nuts are just out-of-this-world expensive. Making pesto with sunflower seed kernels provides protein and flavor with a more palpable price point for the average grocery shopper.
Make them into meal.
No, not a meal that you eat. Actual sunflower meal that you can create in your food processor. According to these instructions on the Bobís Red Mill web site, just put the sunflower seed kernels in the food processor and stop when they are mealy, just before the stage where they would turn into sunflower butter. The meal can then be used in a variety of gluten-free and vegan recipes, or anywhere you just want to beef up the nutritional quality of a traditional flour-based creation. Nut roasts, breads and flourless brownies are all things that can be prepared with ground sunflower seed meal.
Put them in a dinner pie.
Who knew? This recipe for zucchini and sunflower kernel pie keeps things summery and healthy by adding in a few of the kernels to a more traditional vegetarian dinner casserole. Create your own dinner pie using an affordable homemade baking mix and see what other varieties you can come up with using sunflower seeds. If you really want to get decadent, try Linsey Knerlís pie meals using traditional pastry crust to showcase a variety of dinner ingredients.
Sunflower seed kernels are clearly a versatile and nutritional food item to be taken seriously when it comes to healthy, cheap food shopping. For more information on sunflower seeds, check the National Sunflower Association web site.
Photo Credits: The National Sunflower Association