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Here Comes the Sun: Honey Sunflower Seed Butter

I was born with a tree nut allergy. But I consider myself lucky—and oh so thankful—for peanuts, the misunderstood member of the bean family. Peanut butter is one of those things in life that just makes sense. Why not grind up golden legumes into a creamy salty spread… and consequently put it on everything?

In recent years, that genius idea has been applied to hazelnuts, cashews, and of course, almonds. Almond butter is now the norm when mixed into frozen yogurt and nestled into chocolate cups. It even plays a newly crucial part in the childhood staple, ants on a log.

Those of us with tree nut allergies gaze on longingly with bittersweet emotions about this craze. But no more. I’ve discovered something so intensely flavorful and subtlety sweet that it makes me contemplate throwing out my peanut butter. It's called sun butter.

Honey Sunflower Seed Butter

Ingredients: 2 cups raw unsalted sunflower seeds ½ tsp. fine sea salt 1 tbsp. honey 2 tsp. vegetable/coconut oil

Yield: About 1 ½ cups Serving size: 2 Tbsp.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the sunflower seeds in an even layer on a baking pan, sprinkle with salt and toss. Toast in the oven for 20 minutes or until a light golden color. Let cool.

(Skip the first part if using roasted, salted sunflower seeds. I would advise buying raw seeds because the sun butter was salty enough with the amount I added.)

Puree seeds in a food processor on medium speed, 25 minutes total. Scrape the mixture down every 2 minutes.

At 10 minutes, add the oil. Begin scraping the mixture down every minute, based on how small your processor is.

The mixture will be crumbly at first, but by 20 minutes, the seeds begin to release their natural oils, allowing it to relax into a creamier texture. At this point, drizzle in the honey and puree for the remaining 5 minutes.

With some labor and attention, the delicate little seeds become a creamy, delightfully nutty spread that is oh so comforting. The sun butter has a deeper flavor than peanut butter with less calories and sodium.

Have some fun with the recipe, and add in a dash of cinnamon or cocoa for a sunny alternative on your toast.

I love it on apple slices, but the sun butter would be great in cookie batter, over oatmeal, or shaken into a salad dressing. (Someone even suggested using it as a substitution for tahini!)

Yield: 1 1/2 cups Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons

Calories: 115, Fat: 8g (sat. 1.4g), Protein: 4g, Carb.: 6g, Fiber: 2g, Chol.: 0g, Iron: 1g, Sodium 80g