Healthy Meals for Toddler: Sunflower Butter and Sunflower Seeds Recipes
By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers
It is estimated that as many as one child in 80 is allergic to peanuts. For kids with a peanut allergy, sunflower butter is an excellent substitute for peanut butter. You can find sunflower butter at many natural foods stores. When selecting a brand, make sure to read the label, to ensure the sunflower butter in NOT processed in a plant that processes peanuts.
Even if your children are not allergic to peanuts, you might want to consider switching to sunflower butter because it is healthier than peanut butter. We think it tastes better, too. Try making these sunshine wraps, and let your kids be the judge.
Ingredients for each wrap:
2 tablespoons sunflower butter
1 tablespoon apple, grated
1 tablespoon carrots, grated
1 tablespoon raisins
1 whole wheat tortilla
Spread sunflower butter on the tortilla, Sprinkle the top with apples, carrots and raisins. Roll up and serve.
Variations and optional additions: shredded coconut, chopped dates, banana rounds, drizzle of honey, sliced turkey, chopped celery, chopped onion, mini marshmallows, bacon crumbles, or anything else that sounds good!
Produce Corner: Sunflower Seeds
Sunflowers are one of Mother Nature’s wonderful gifts. This brilliant yellow flower that towers high above other plants in the garden bares seeds that are delicious and nutritious. The sunflower is native to North America. In fact, Native Americans considered sunflower seeds an important, high-energy food source. They introduced them to the Spanish explorers who brought them back Europe where they also became very popular.
Sunflower seeds are called a “nutrient-rich” food, this means that they provide substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals for relatively few calories. With the new 2006 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommending Americans eat fewer calories, these types of foods are quite popular for the obvious reason – you get more of the good stuff with less of the heavy stuff.
Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of “good” fats, both mono and poly unsaturated. Most of the fat in your diet should come from these two types of fat (the most common sources are seeds, nuts, and fish). Sunflower seeds are the best whole food source of vitamin E, an important nutrient needed to prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and dementia. They are also rich in fiber. Most Americans consume only half of the fiber they need each day. A fiber-rich diet will reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Magnesium is another important nutrient that many Americans lack, but is also found in Sunflower seeds. Some research shows that higher intakes of magnesium could reduce your risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
If you are looking for a simple, healthy snack, enjoy a handful of mild nutty tasting sunflower seeds. But don’t stop there, you can also get the healthy benefits of sunflower seeds in buttery smooth sunflower butter, and in sunflower oil.
Age to introduce:
Around 2-3 years old. Both sunflower seeds and sunflower butter are a choking hazard for very little children.
Sunflower seeds for the family
At the market:
Sunflower seeds are sold in the shell or shelled. Because they are high in fat, sunflower seeds are susceptible to becoming rancid; shop at a store where there is a rapid turnover in bulk products and check the expiration date on packaged items. Sunflower butter is sold in many natural products stores and is usually located where you will find peanut butter. Sunflower oil is available in most supermarkets and you’ll find it with other vegetable oils.
Sunflower seeds can spoil easily, because of their high fat content. They are best stored in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator or freezer. For storing sunflower butter and oil, follow the manufacturer directions on the package.
It’s easy to add sunflower seeds to your family’s meals:
- Sprinkle them on yogurt, oatmeal, cold cereal, or ice cream
- Top a salad or pita sandwich with them for lunch
- Toss a handful of seeds in tuna or chicken salad
- Add ½frac12; cup of seeds to muffin, pancake, or cookie batters
Snack on trail mix made with sunflower seeds, granola, and dried blueberries
This colorful salad is a perfect starter or compliment to your Thanksgiving dinner. It has everything you need – color, texture, and taste!
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
9-12 oz baby spinach, washed and dried
½frac12; cup canned beets, drained, sliced or julienned
½frac12; cup mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 cup feta or blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Dressing: Combine all ingredients in an airtight container, cover and shake. Refrigerate until ready to use. (Dressing can be made a day ahead).
Just before serving, shake dressing and pour about ½frac12; the dressing over the spinach. Toss gently until spinach is coated. Taste, and add additional dressing, if needed. Divide spinach onto 4-6 salad plates or spread spinach over a large serving platter for buffet or family-style dining. Arrange beets, oranges, cheese and sunflower seeds on the top of the spinach salad bed.
You can replace peanut butter with sunflower butter in all of your favorite recipes. However, when cooking with sunflower butter, reduce the amount baking powder or baking soda, or add a little lemon juice to the recipe. Otherwise, the sunflower butter will turn a green color.
Sunflower butter dipping sauce
This is a terrific Asian inspired dipping sauce that is perfect to serve with fresh or grilled veggies, grilled meats and tofu, or just toss a few tablespoons with cooked ramen noodles for a simple side dish.
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup minced onion
½frac12; teaspoon fish sauce or soy sauce
1/4 cup water
½frac12; cup sunflower butter
½frac12; cup coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of red pepper flakes
Place ingredients in a bowl and blend together until smooth. Refrigerate. Sauce will thicken in the refrigerator. Serve cold or at room temperature.