Foodie Friday: Day of the Sunbutter

Foodie Friday: Day of the Sunbutter

Way back in 1985, my family made the very long drive from Toronto, Canada to Orlando, Florida for a magical summer vacation together.

To help fight boredom during the drive, dad had picked up several books on tape.

One of these was John Wyndham’s post-apocalyptic novel Day of the Triffids, in which large plants (in my memory I always think “alien” plants, but strictly speaking this is not the case in the novel) take over the world. I actually remember little else about the novel, having been too scared by what I heard to ever pick it up for an actual reading, except that there were giant killer plants and that they were terrifying. Also, lots of people were blind.

Anyhow, while we were in Florida enjoying Disney World or Epcot, at some point, somewhere — the details lost to history — we came across a farming display of some kind that featured giant sunflowers.

To my 9-year old imagination, nothing I had ever seen could possibly have looked more like a giant evil killer plant than a giant sunflower, with it’s looming height and empty, soulless face.

They gave me the creeps.

That was when I made the mistake of saying out loud what, in hindsight, I should have kept to myself. I told my family that “those giant sunflowers creep me out.”

Over the years, my loving family has never let me forget it. The details or my reasoning behind why I said it hasn’t mattered. It went from “giant sunflowers give Chris the creeps” to “Chris is scared of sunflowers” rather quickly. In fact, it’s probably second only to “It’s like I’m afraid of that sandwich!” (a whole other story, there) in the pantheon of Things My Family Won’t Let Me Forget. I’m pretty sure that at some point my sister even got me a birthday card with a sunflower on it just to see my reaction, and I’m glad to say I let her down by not even noticing.

Anyhow, all of this is to say, sunflowers and I have a long and complicated history.

But, I believe it’s healing, now that I realized you could make sunflower butter out of the seeds, and just how cheap, delicious and easy it is to make yourself. It’s also healthier than most nut butters (30% less fat than peanut butter), full of Vitamin E, safe for kids with nut allergies, and by making it yourself you can control the salt and sugar content. Yay!

This stuff works just about anywhere you’d use peanut butter. In cookies, on toast, added to smoothies, or with apple slices. Be creative, and enjoy!

Day of the Sunbutter


  • ~4 cups shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • ~1 tsp salt (or not)
  • ~1 tsp sweetener (sugar, Splenda, honey, stevia, agave, or nothing. Whatever.)
  • ~1 tbsp olive oil or other neutral oil of choice


  1. Toast/roast your sunflower seeds. If your seeds are raw, put them on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or longer, until just browned. If your seeds are not raw, I would still recommend toasting them, but you can just do it in a pot or pan for a few minutes until they start to smell toasty and get slightly brown as they release their oil. Either way, watch them closely.
  2. Put the seeds into your food processor, along with a teaspoon each of salt, if you want to use it. I recommend it, but you can experiment based on your preferences.
    (I haven’t tried it, but you could also do this in your blender, particularly if you have a very powerful one.)
  3. Turn on the food processor and just let it do its thing, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Keep going. As the seeds break down, they will release more of their natural oils, and they will proceed through several stages of consistency. Don’t stop too early, of you may find you have grainy sunbutter. Your patience will be rewarded!
  5. When the mixture is still crumbly but looking more moist, you can optionally add some honey, about a teaspoon would be good. Then let ‘er rip again.
  6. Looking more like peanut butter now? Awesome. Keep the processor running and drizzle in your oil until it reaches the consistency you like. Adjust taste with more salt and sweetener as needed.
  7. Transfer to a jar or container, or use immediately.

1 Comment

  • During the next ribbing by your family, remind them that all your wedding flowers came from a great flower shop called Sunflower Flats!!!


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